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Monday, June 09, 2008

Mallya plans single brand, to shelve Air Deccan

What will be the fate of India's first low-cost carrier Deccan (erstwhile Air Deccan)? UB's think tanks are now strongly considering operating under one brand, Kingfisher Airlines and doing away with the low-cost Deccan model altogether.

This idea was mooted by one of the agencies that have been hired to look at the integration of the two brands. "There is a strong attempt to bring Deccan under the Kingfisher brand name. That way, international operations — which has been Vijay Mallya's focus from the word go — will be smooth-sailing," said company sources. Mallya's UB took over Deccan last year from its original promoter Capt G R Gopinath. An airline can fly international routes only after completing five years of operation, and Deccan becomes eligible for that this year. But Mallya would like to use the Kingfisher brand for these routes, which regulators may find easier to agree on if the Deccan name is changed to Kingfisher.

Previously, there was a move to rebrand Deccan, but retain the low-cost model. In the past two months there have been numerous probables of what would be the new name to replace Deccan — King Lite, King Easy, Deccan King and Kingfisher Express. The model then would have been to use the low cost carrier on short haul routes and the premium service on the other routes.

"The decision to kill the Deccan brand altogether, which is extremely strong in smaller cities, is a tough call, as people in these cities relate flying to Air Deccan," said an aviation analyst.

But low cost as model itself seems to increasingly be an unviable option with the increase in fuel prices. In the US, several low-cost airlines like ATA, Aloha and Skybus have shut operations in recent months.

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