Jet Konnect flights to have semi-business class segment

Mumbai: Beginning 26 April, India’s largest airline by passengers flown, Jet Airways (India) Ltd will introduce an eight-seater semi-business class cabin on all of its Jet Airways Konnect flights that until now had been all economy planes.

The new seats, branded Konnect Select, will have a 40-inch reclining position compared with 44 inches in regular business class seats in Jet’s full-service flights, and passengers will get hot meals, a welcome drink and in-flight reading material.

The new segment—which will be introduced on all of Konnect’s 195 daily flights on 28 aircraft—will cost 20-25% less than normal business class and is expected to bring the airline 8-10% incremental revenue annually. However, these seats will be priced around two-and-a-half times more than Konnect’s lowest economy fares.

“We converted Jet Airways flights into all-economy Konnect flights on such routes which are quite price-sensitive and (were) experiencing only 40-45% seat occupancy in business class,” said Sudheer Raghavan, chief commercial officer at Jet Airways, adding that it was ideal to introduce Konnect Select instead of bringing back full-service flights.

This is not the first time that a low-fare carrier has experimented with business class seats. Low-fare airline GoAir, which is run by the Wadia group-controlled Go Airlines (India) Pvt. Ltd, had introduced a business class section called GoBusiness in late 2008, as part its effort to reposition itself as a value carrier.

“Konnect Select shows the confidence in the upturn of passenger demand, especially for premium passengers,” said Mahantesh Sabarad, senior vice-president (equity research) at Fortune Equity Brokers (India) Ltd, who estimated that it would bring in at least Rs12-13 lakh a day for the airline. On the downside, though, he said the multiplicity of brand will leave passengers confused.

Apart from Konnect, Jet Airways operates a wholly owned low-fare carrier JetLite India Ltd, that flies 110 flights a day with 25 aircraft, with an all-economy configuration. (*