24 March 2016 06:42:27 IST

Our job is to offer choice to customers: Jet Wholetime Director

Gaurang Shetty on the airline moving Europe gateway to Amsterdam and partnerships with KLM and Delta

As Jet Airways readies to shift its operations to European Amsterdam from Brussels from March 27 (planned much before Tuesday’s terror attacks in the Belgium capital), Gaurang Shetty, Wholetime Director of the airline, met with a set of mediapersons to explain the partnership with KLM and Delta and enhancing connectivity between India, Europe and North America. Excerpts:

When the airline launched its Europe hub in Brussels there was talk of connecting several destinations in India to the world. What kind of a footprint will you be creating now, with Amsterdam as the gateway?

Whenever we operate to any destination one of the key things is how do you feed traffic into the region. Let me give you example. We operate into Singapore, and that is an important feed, say, for Australia or for the East Asia market.

So, whenever you go into any destination, in addition to building traffic between the end points how do you take it beyond end points?

Brussels has its own strengths in terms… When we started in 2008 we had aspirations to service Europe. And, I think, Brussels Airline had a role to play in it. Obviously, Brussels Airline has its own aspirations to grow. We have to look at it from a commercial perspective and say what makes more commercial sense in terms in trying to extricate maximum value for the route that we operate That is where we saw Amsterdam delivering significant commercial propositions both in terms of connectivity in Europe and US also in terms of a bottomline perspective for both passengers and cargo.

I think cargo makes a very important aspect of our business as well. When you look at the mix of everything on the table it is a stronger proposition than what Brussels offers.

It is not about moving from one to another it is all about delivering greater value.

You have another gateway in Abu Dhabi. How will the gateways in Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam mesh in?

Customers want choice. So our job is to offer choice. Customers in addition to flying direct also fly indirect… Whether it is over Abu Dhabi with Etihad, whether Qantas over Singapore… I work with partners.

For me, bilaterally is the way that this airline has always grown. We work with all the airlines across all three alliances. I have partners in OneWorld, Star and Skyteam.

It is not about conflict, it is about choice.

How much will it help in increasing your international footprint?

KLM and Delta are significant players in the US, Canada and Europe. Very clearly there is an added advantage in terms of the footprint that they deliver. The US is a large country and when you are able to operate into 11 cities direct and are able to do code-share into 30 points in Europe when customers in those location can do code-share into India ….. we do code-share for KLM and Delta within India.

Was the labour issue one of the reasons for shifting out of Brussels?

No. It is commercial business thinking.

Can you explain the difference between a gateway and a hub?

Let us take it from an Indian consumer’s point of view. From my perspective from India, your hubs are in India ….. Mumbai and Delhi. I have the maximum connectivity in Mumbai and Delhi.

Today, I am one of the largest guys who transfers customers and now with T2 in Mumbai integrated we will be funnelling more and more customers between our networks.

We built our networks in Mumbai and Delhi as I am an Indian carrier. My hub is Mumbai and Delhi.

When it comes to an external point that becomes your gateway because that is your gateway to disparate customers, while Mumbai and Delhi are the core hub.

So Mumbai and Delhi will become the hub…..

Yeah. I am here for the Indian consumer. My job is to provide direct and indirect services.

How does this sit in with Etihad, which has an investment in Air Berlin and Alitalia, which are close to Amsterdam?

Our partnership with Etihad is a very strong one. We work closely across all synergy areas. In fact today between Jet and Etihad, we are one of the largest players outbound from India.

One out of every five customers going out is flying between the two of us. The partnership that they have with other carriers that they have invested in is purely that they are growing together with those partners.

I think as far as we are concerned we will always look to the Indian consumer’s point of view.

Given how big an airport Amsterdam’s Schiphol is do you see the need to order more wide-body aircraft?

It is too premature to talk about it when you have not started your services. But if I were to look at forward loads on the Amsterdam service it is very confident and strong. What is going to happen in the future……

The forward loads may require more wide-body aircraft...

It is too premature. The Indian market is a late-booking market.

Do you plan to induct more aircraft into your fleet?

I think the next induction will be the 787-9 some time in 2017.