IT'S A crucial day today for Kingfisher Airlines as its lenders, suppliers, and government representatives are again meeting the management of the airline to recover losses. They will also try to work out a working plan to re-operationalise Kingfisher so that debts can be paid through partially functional operations. If, over time, a plan with mutual consensus of all stakeholders is agreed upon, and tough measures are taken - especially when there are still many takers for the airline - Kingfisher Airlines can again hope to 'fly the skies'.
Shashwat Chaturvedi, who is Editor-in-Chief of Sustainuance, India's first corporate sustainability magazine and executive director at Saaga, a new media startup, says that the time has come for Kingfisher and its promoter Vijay Mallya to look in the mirror and get their hands dirty to tidy the mess they have created. "Well, I do think that as a business it must be rescued for the greater good of travelers and for the aviation industry. But under no circumstances should it be at the cost of the public. Why should the tax payer bear the brunt for the excesses of Dr. Mallya? Kingfisher was a for-profit enterprise, and if it is making losses, it is because of the mismanagement and misjudgments of the board that it sank. Hence, UB Group needs to shoulder the responsibility and the losses," adding that a bit of moral public confession is required on part of Kingfisher.
"Somehow, I feel that rather than half-hearted apologies and sentimental mails that blame the policy, the authorities, and the tax guys, Mallya must come clean and say, 'Patrons, am sorry, I f**** up. Give me another chance'," Chaturvedi told this citizen journalist.
Will lenders and creditors take into consideration the respect that Kingfisher had gained in the past and build a fresh strategy around it? One might say this is sentimental reasoning but it is based on experience of many. "I have flown Kingfisher more than 15 times, and very many times I used to pay a premium to fly it even though I would have the option of buying cheaper tickets or getting on board non-stop flights. Put simply, I liked Kingfisher because of the way they made me feel special - especially with the way they used social media to be engaged with me. I am sad that Kingfisher is going through a terrible phase. But those who are meeting today or will meet in the future to seek a way out for the airline must not forget that it was once given a five-star rating by Skytrax - a stunning achievement by an Indian company in the fiercely competitive global aviation industry," says Arun Rajagopal, a social media manager at a Dubai-based company, who is a compulsive traveler, and loves airplanes.
Purba Dutt, a journalist based out of Mumbai say that Kingfisher knows how to deliver top-class service and there's no reason why it can't promise and execute the same. "I loved the service, the air-hostesses, the in-flight services, and the punctuality. Even now I think that Kingfisher hostesses are the best, and the red colour is charming on them."
Apart from reasons related to proficiency in professional customer care, the strategic reason to salvage Kingfisher fits well with the present competitive imbalance in the Indian aviation industry. "One can't ignore the fact that the slow disintegration of Kingfisher has had a negative impact on the airline industry. The ticket prices have gone up though at the same time one has to say that fuel prices have also risen. But the stakeholders can correct this by not allowing Kingfisher to collapse, and see it as counter balancing measure within the industry," says Tekchandani.
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