Air services to/from India have historically focused on addressing the Visiting, Friends and Relatives (VFR) and labour markets. And with Indian carriers having placed less emphasis on international operations until recently, sixth freedom airlines have captured a large proportion of the trac which moves via their hubs.
The market is evolving rapidly, creating significant new route opportunities. International traffic in India has more than doubled over the last decade and would have grown faster were it not for bilateral constraints. And with the growth of the economy and rising income levels, not only is there potential for traffic to accelerate, but the profile of passengers and destinations is also changing fast:
India is establishing business and trading relationships with a wider range of partners, driving corporate traffic in both directions;
Outbound leisure travel is growing rapidly and Indians are become more adventurous in seeking to visit new destinations;
As India’s global profile increases and visa processes are simplified, inbound tourism is also rising;
The Indian overseas student body and diaspora continues to expand, and in new locations;
Meanwhile Indian carriers are now increasingly focused on finding international destinations to serve.
All of this points to tremendous opportunities for foreign airports and airlines in India. However, traditional methodologies for route development tend to be ineffective because the historical data is misleading. Since travellers were presented with limited non-stop options, and hub carriers did not invest heavily in promoting individual destinations, unserved or underserved markets received little traffic. But this was largely a supply-led issue.
Recent experience has shown that the introduction of non-stop services, supported by effective destination marketing, can deliver extraordinary traffic stimulation, the potential for which is not reflected in traffic data alone. Instead, it requires a deep understanding of the dynamics and drivers of the Indian travel market, and this is the value that CAPA India brings.
Our approach includes:
Analysis of route-wise traffic flows, supported by our database on the impact of new services on traffic stimulation
A strategic filtering process
Detailed catchment area analysis to understand the economic drivers of traffic
Consultative primary research amongst travel agents, OTAs, tour operators, travel management companies, tourism boards and hotel companies to understand traveller behaviour, preferences and trends
In-depth engagement with the leading distribution channels to understand price sensitivity, seasonality and booking patterns
Benchmarking of destination attributes in both directions e.g. variety of attractions and activities, cost and quality of accommodation, challenges with food or language, visa policy, safety and security etc.
Assessment of transfer opportunities and the impact of alliances and codeshares
Knowledge of the network and fleet plans of prospective airline operators and their strategic priorities
Understanding of the government’s bilateral policy settings
Prioritisation of potential routes and airline operators and their likely direction
Financial modelling of airline route feasibility
Identification of critical risks and associated mitigation strategies
A key differentiator of how we work is that we provide end-to-end support with the
implementation of route development initiatives. Through our established presence and
extensive relationships in India, we can provide practical support in relation to airline and
airport operators, but also ensure active engagement with all of the relevant stakeholders in
the travel industry. This includes travel agencies, OTAs, travel management companies and
tour operators, which are critical to any business case.
We can help foreign airports and tourism boards navigate through the process of engaging with prospective airline operators to deliver a compelling message in a way that respects local cultural sensitivities and business culture, as well as resonates with their strategic priorities and how they think, to maximises the chances of success.
Examples of our
route development experience
CAPA India has been engaged to develop a 10-year business transformation plan for the national carrier of Mauritius. This included an in-depth review of the airline’s current global network, and a clean sheet approach to recommending the routes that Air Mauritius should operate over the next 10 years based on analysis of the outlook for tourism flows, sixth freedom transfer opportunities, ability to capture feed from interline and codeshare partners, and the performance of new aircraft types.
We were engaged to evaluate the potential of the Canada-India market as whole and the route economics, supported by financial modelling, for direct services from Vancouver. The study was successfully used to support Air Canada’s decision to launch Vancouver-Delhi non-stop services, initially 3x weekly and now operating daily.
CAPA India was appointed to develop customised business cases to present to Indian carriers to launch services to Perth in Western Australia. The business cases comprised extensive qualitative research and quantitative analysis, traffic projections, a route financial model, and an innovative tourism product development and marketing strategy.