Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brand Update : Air Deccan RIP (2003-2008)

On August 30 ,2008, Kingfisher officially announced the rebranding of Simplifly Deccan to Kingfisher Red. It marked the end of a wonderful brand which rewrote the aviation industry in India.

Air Deccan was India's South West Airlines. It made air travel affordable and many Indians had a chance to experience traveling in a plane. Now it is a part of history.

As a marketer , I am upset at the demise of a wonderful brand. As a consumer I worry that I will not be able to have an affordable air travel. Without Air Deccan , air travel will not be the same again. Its back to the earlier days where flying will be restricted to rich and those who travel at their employer's expenses.

When Kingfisher took over this brand followed by rebranding it as Simplifly Deccan, I thought that Air Deccan will emerge as one of the best low cost carrier in India. I did not believe media reports that Kingfisher was only looking at the overseas flying license.

Now I feel these reports were correct. Kingfisher had the following agenda :
Kill the competition
Gain market share
Get the overseas flying licence.
Many new airplanes and routes.

By taking over Deccan, Kingfisher got a larger marketshare to fight Jet Airways. More over Air Deccan was creating huge problems for full service airlines. By taking over and killing this brand,Kingfisher has made life easier for all airlines.

For Captain Gopinath, its life as usual. As an entrepreneur , he has built a business, scaled it and then sold it at a best price.

The problem for Air Deccan was that it went public too early. When the companies become public, its operations are guided by the quarterly reports and stock markets. Stock markets never understand the logic of long term sustainable business models. If the quarterly results are bad, there is media / investor frenzy calling for blood.

For Low cost carriers, one cannot survive by looking at quarterly results. The business may bleed for long before attaining break-even. Especially in Indian aviation industry where there is still confusion in terms of policies.

For a consumer, the death of this brand is a huge loss. Its visible also. All airlines have jacked up prices, cut many routes and scaled down their operations. This has prompted many consumers to depend on Railways again. If Air Deccan was alive, it could have rode this season with lower prices. That's what a low cost airlines will do when every airlines increase their prices.
Kingfisher Red will not play the game of Air Deccan. It will be a flanker brand that will fight Jetlite. But never will you be able to fly at reasonable rates.

Related brand
Air Deccan