As part of a strategic rebranding and restructuring exercise announced last July, Jet Airways, on Monday, said, effective March 25, its low-cost arm JetLite would cease to operate, after being merged with the other no-frills brand JetKonnect.
“Effective March 25, JetLite will cease to operate separately, but will come under the JetKonnect brand, enabling guests to avail themselves of a single superior in-flight product in the full service (Jet Airways) and low-fare categories,” group Chief Commercial Officer Sudheer Raghavan said in a statement.
JetLite was created in 2007, following the takeover of Air Sahara in April, 2007, and used to contribute nearly three-quarters of the group's domestic revenue, with the rest coming in from JetKonnect. It used to operate with 19 Boeing 737s, connecting 31 domestic destinations, apart from Kathmandu, with 123 flights a day.
JetKonnect was launched in May, 2009, as competition increased in the no-frills category.
Jet had revealed the merger plan last July. Announcing the first quarter earnings, group Vice-President (commercial strategy and investor relations), K. G. Vishwanath, had said, “The management is clear that there will be only one brand in the low-fare arena and that is something, which will emerge very clearly in the next one or two months.”
Jet Airways and JetLite would continue as distinct business entities operating under their own airline operating permits, Mr. Raghavan said, adding that “to achieve brand consistency, JetKonnect will be the dedicated low-fare service with a mixed fleet of Boeings and ATRs to operate on the metro, tier II and III routes.”
Explaining the rationale behind the merger, Mr. Raghavan said, “The launch of JetKonnect is the culmination of a well-coordinated effort and arises from the fact that since its inception in May 2009, JetKonnect has proved to be a successful model. We thought it best to consolidate our product in the low-fare segment with a single brand JetKonnect, for enhanced brand recall.”
Mr. Raghavan further said, the merger was aimed at streamlining the product portfolio of the group and to offer the guests a single superior in-flight product in the full-service and low-fare categories respectively, drawing synergies from the other brand.
The airline was also looking at opportunities to optimally deploy and cross-utilise common resources of Jet and JetLite wherever possible and this rebranding exercise will help further in synergising our collective operations, he added.
Though low-cost, JetKonnect, he said, would offer premiere services on certain routes, where guests may enjoy service, identical to that enjoyed by the full-service parent Jet. This would be further expanded in a phased manner. The cockpit and cabin crew would don the same uniform, as their counterparts from Jet.
Mr. Raghavan further said, some JetKonnect flights would operate under the S2 code, while others would have flight numbers prefixed by the 9W code.
The Jet group now operates around 620 flights a day, with a fleet of 120 aircraft, with Jet operating 101 aircraft connecting 76 destinations both domestic and international, and JetKonnect, connecting seven key domestic routes — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kolkata, with around 290 flights daily.