Monday, September 06, 2010

BA's alliance with Kingfisher looks like it'll help BA more than it'll help Kingfisher

A quick look at fares from India to Europe and vice versa reveals why the recent codesharing alliance between British Airways and Kingfisher Airlines will probably help the former more than the latter.

In summary, the alliance allows:
  1. BA flyers to fly to various Indian cities on Kingfisher's Indian network
  2. Kingfisher flyers to fly to various European cities on BA's European network
When BA flyers arrive at BOM, DEL, etc., Kingfisher will fly them to the smaller Indian cities that BA doesn't serve directly. This will provide these flyers with increased convenience in terms of baggage-transfer, booking, check-in, etc., and thus help both BA and its customers.

When Kingfisher flyers arrive at LHR, BA will fly them to other European cities that Kingfisher doesn't serve directly. At this point, it might appear that Kingfisher (and its customers) will get a benefit similar to that obtained by BA (and its customers). However, a quick look at the fares from BOM, DEL, etc., to LHR and to other European cities reveals that carriers of the Middle East usually offer significantly lower ticket prices for flights from India to various European destinations, compared to prices offered by BA and Kingfisher. BA's and Kingfisher's ticket prices usually tend to be higher than those offered by airlines of the Middle East (this is based on the hundreds of times I've checked ticket prices between different cities of the world).

What, if anything, does Kingfisher stand to gain from this alliance? Why will a price-sensitive Indian flyer - and most Indians are very price-sensitive - fly to a non-LHR European destination on a (probably) costlier Kingfisher+BA plan (with LHR as the hub), when a Middle East carrier is willing to carry him to the same destination for lesser money (with a Middle East destination as the hub)?

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