I always find it a little suspect when people try to do novelty airlines, maybe because I’m one of those paranoid people who, even after years of flying and hundreds of flights, still routinely thinks “We’re all going to die!” at least two or three times on any given flight. Thus, I will never fly the now-grounded “Hooters Air,” even if it does come back. (Guys, keep your eyes on the… cockpit? please?)
Kingfisher Airlines might end up as a better bet, but as might be proper in an airline that emerged out of a beer company, if I do ever fly with them I’ll still probably feel compelled to smell the pilot’s breath before I take my seat. Apparently, Kingfisher Airlines, one of India’s newer domestic carriers, has signed a deal with Airbus to buy several jumbo and superjumbo planes, with an eye to entering the international market. The move is part of a general boom in international travel to India (which has been up by about 40% this year alone).
The New York Times article about the event spends as much time talking about the lifestyle of Kingfisher’s flamboyant CEO Vijay Mallya, as it does considering the economic viability of the venture (they do note that Kingfisher Airlines has yet to turn a profit as a domestic carrier in India):
Mr. Mallya personally is the sort of unfettered corporate czar that many American boardrooms have not seen in at least half a century. He surrounds himself with a close group of longtime advisers, wears copious diamonds, holds business meetings at his house until 5 in the morning, winks at female journalists and flaunts the â€œgood timesâ€ corporate motif in most aspects of his life.
At home, a Mercedes, a Ferrari and a Bentley are parked in his driveway. His ornate living room is filled with silver gilded furniture and art objects like a marble statue of a nymph-like woman, as well as a Picasso sketch. His CD collection includes dance, lounge and party music.
A group of largely silent young women clad in white deliver drinks, answer phones and clean up ashtrays. (link)
Kya baat hai. Vijay Mallya seems to be a mix of new-school Indian self-confidence and ambition (this is a huge endeavour), and a kind of old-school, “ladies’ man” absurdity that seems to have come out of some 70s Bollywood movie. Even the attractive female flight attendants are a big part of the company’s marketing campaign, which seems like an obvious Vijay Mallya touch (see this article).
In general, I have to say that Kingfisher’s “keep the good times rolling” marketing campaign simply isn’t appealing to me. From an airline I really want the boring things — professionalism, competence, and yeah, safety — not so much “party time.”
But is he perhaps appealing to a real demographic, one that’s a bit less stodgy and paranoid than me? Are people really going to fly Kingfisher “Good Times” Airlines to go to and from the Desh?