Friday, October 15, 2010

Understanding LCC business model from a customer's perspective

Low Cost Carriers (LCC)have brought in a revolution in the global skies.Infact during the trying times that the aviation sector is currently witnessing, most of the LCC are giving the Full Service Airlines(FSA)a hard run for their money.Yours truly witnessed quite a few of these LCC and FSA first hand as a customer with a background of understanding Business and Management.The latest one which was experienced in the last couple of days was Fly Dubai while flying on Muscat-Dubai-Muscat route for a weekend visit to the Emirate.On expected lines Fly Dubai had a good customer service experience to cater with a wide range of merchandise being sold on board at compelling prices, akin to many other Gulf based carriers.The diversified background of the cabin crew, along with their friendly and warm hospitality would make even the most jaded passenger to feel fresh and happy.However, a complete and truly satisfying service was not to be as there were some lacunae that created creased customer foreheads. Two such instances were-There wasn't any mention about the departure terminal in the e-ticket especially while boarding from a big airport like that of Dubai International Airport, which is always there in case of all FSA airlines like that of Oman Air, Emirates and Etihad.The second instance was in fact more appalling as it led to customer inconvenience and harassment. On landing in Dubai, the immigration and customs official told, as per the new amendments in the entry and exit rules of all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)residents, a passenger having their visa expiry date less than six months from the date of travel are not allowed to enter the Emirate.This resulted in many passengers travelling into Dubai via Fly Dubai from destinations like Muscat, Kuwait and Doha had to face inconvenience at the airport.Thanks to a friendly immigration and custom official at Dubai International Airport, who helped in routing the cases through a known travel agent so as to complete the visa proceedings apropos the new rules in vogue.Imagine what may have gone through with those passengers who are travelling in the sector for the first and without any contact in Dubai, leave aside knowing a travel agent!However, even the best of his efforts(customs and immigration) couldn't stop the passengers from wasting their precious 4-5 hours by being stranded at the airport.As a responsible service provider Fly Dubai would have sought all details about the passenger, his passport and visa status while he booked his ticket online and also during checking-in so as to avoid such inconveniences at the last minute.Although the other aspect of the service are truly world class, Fly Dubai need to pull up socks with players like Air Arabia fast catching up with the international best LCC practices.Indian LCC can definitely pick a lesson or two from the Middle East based LCC and their FSA counterparts.These players have strong business sense and coupled with fast reaction players like Emirates, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Etihad to name a few are giving a tough fight to all the European carriers.Gulf based carriers are smart enough to leverage the export credit benefit, along with smart services to the passengers. The European hub is being fast taken over by the gulf based carriers owing to their opportunistic approach based on strong customer service.In such a scenario can the two instances of Fly Dubai be classified as an abberation?

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