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Indigo Airlines’s President & Executive Director, Aditya Ghosh, interviewed at NASSCOM India Leadership Forum 2013, had to say a lot on what he thought of the airline business. I believe that every pilot should read excerpts of what I believe are important, to understand that there may be a boom, but there may be a slump as well, if an airline is not well run.

What is it that Indigo saw?

“In most businesses, what tends to happen is that as businesses become bigger, and as the industry matures, the tendency is to move away from the basics. And we tend to kind of forget what the customer really needs, versus what are all the things the customer really wants.”

But the customer wants to be treated in a glamorous manner

“Customers want a lot of things, the only problem is that they don’t want to pay for it. This issue really is, how do you figure out what the customer needs, what the customer is willing to pay for, and can you do that over and over again really well?”

“Nothing uniquely different about Indigo except the consistency”

On Investment in Technology

“As a low cost airline and as a business that is so focussed on cost, it doesn’t come naturally to go make big investments, because the tendency is to go save cost, in a lot of little places. But the problem with penny pinching is you’re pound foolish, and for us, from day one, because we had the advantage of knowing we’ll get a 100-150 planes, we invested upfront for anything that was scalable, but had a good impact on productivity.”

India’s Southwest Airlines

“It’s a disservice to Southwest. Southwest is an amazing airline, an absolute legend. They’ve been around for 40 years and been successful.”

What is the matter with Indian Aviation?

“Ego comes in the way of wisdom, and people forget that cost is a big driver, and we lose focus of ourselves. We must look within”

Is the problem with the regulations?

“The problem without (external to the airline) is everywhere. A large part of the problem is within, because, many of the businesses don’t run them as businesses.”

Why are there so few airlines in India?

“It doesn’t matter how many airlines there are. There have to be more airplanes. If you have 50 airlines with 1 aircraft each, it’s still 50 aircraft. But if you have 6-7 good, sustainable airlines with a 100 aircraft each, this could be a really, really different industry. Absolutely, there should be more competition.”

Airline Market Outlook

“I think it (outlook on the aviation sector) is going to be better than the last couple of years, lot of demand, not enough supply, huge opportunity for the (airline) businesses to grow. But I think obviously…I’m quite certain that the big growth and the big success stories will happen on the low cost segment”

Consumer Point of View

“(Prices) should absolutely come down. For that, we will need airlines to do their thing, but we will also need the government to do its thing. The ultimate cost of travel for the traveller must come down. That is the only way this industry will grow.”