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CUSTOMER ACQUISITION: Fixing Startup Problems

You are therefore the eighth domestic airline, not counting the regional ones. The number of seats for sale in the market is still 1.6 million below the pre-pandemic level. Number one has an overwhelming market share of more than 50%. On the other hand, jet fuel prices are now more than 10% lower than the peak in June 2022. Even better, the government has removed the airfare price cap imposed due to Covid-19 in 2020 .

A good time to take off.

Akasa Air, whose first flight took place on August 7, currently holds just 0.39% of the market, but says it will expand rapidly, with a B737 MAX to be delivered every two weeks, an ambitious plan to all points of view. “Travel in India is a bit transactional at this point, and it can be daunting,” says Belson Coutinho, co-founder, chief marketing and experience officer at Akasa Air, the ultra-low-cost airline looking to to deliver an “inclusive and humane travel experience”. “India needs an affordable, warm and reliable airline, an airline that creates an inclusive environment for every customer, be it a first trip or a great traveler”, he adds.

To begin with, Akasa Air has undertaken quite a few initiatives to stand out, such as its crew uniform or its in-flight meal packs made of sustainable materials. To claim to be a pet-friendly service, the airline will allow pet dogs and cats on board with passengers from November 1. “Experience tells us that the younger generation is very passionate about sustainability. As an airline that relies on one of the core values ​​of sustainability, we hope we will be able to connect much more deeply with them,” he says.

Every airline offers in-flight catering, but for Akasa Cafe, it’s all about creating an experience. The onboard cafe offers a wide range – from cakes, hot chocolate and sweet corn to bagels, burgers, salads and hummus. The price is competitive. The menu will be renewed every three to four months.

Samit Sinha, managing partner of Alchemist Brand Consulting, said that if Akasa Café performs on the quality front, it will help differentiate Akasa Air from other airlines.
But will all of this cut the ice with the new-age flier?

To be human

According to Sinha, as an airline brand trying to break into a market with established players, Akasa Air needs to keep three things in mind: its capabilities, the relevance of its offering to the target segment, and creating differentiation by addressing an unmet problem or partially met consumer needs. What is essential is first to ensure that hygiene factors are met with 100% competence and consistency. These include ticket prices, flight schedules, punctuality, safety and convenience, without which no differentiation can help.

Coutinho says the brand promises to deliver warm, efficient and affordable service throughout the consumer journey. “It starts with how we hire our employees, from how we designed our website to our mobile app experience and payments. The overall theme is to keep it simple but to the point. The goal is to provide an environment where consumers can comfortably interact with the brand,” he says.

The airline brand has a customer listening, response and engagement center, the Akasa Care Center, which has online, email and voice reputation management support. This allows it to listen to consumer feedback on digital channels and social platforms. “Any airline usually generates tons of data; it’s about how you use the data,” Coutinho adds. “Brands that leverage and use data effectively will always stand out.”

The airline will expand its network across the country gradually with a plan to connect Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities with 300 weekly flights by the end of the month. It hopes to have a fleet of 18 aircraft by the end of March 2023. Over the next four years, the airline will add another 54 aircraft, bringing the size of its fleet to 72 aircraft.

Also read: After Hours: Arnold Su, Business Head – Consumer & Gaming PC, System Business Group, ASUS India

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