Capt Gopinath first launched Air Deccan with a flight from Bangalore to Hubli back in 2003. In many ways, he introduced the concept of value flying to India. Long before airlines had realised that aviation is a difficult business and that profit margins can get as thin and delicate as egg shells. This was before the major airlines introduced their own low cost brand and then we ultimately had a wholly dedicated low cost brand like Indigo in the country.
For many of us who have been flying for years, taking a flight maybe the most mundane and tiring thing one could have ever done. But for the first time flyer, it is a thrill and not a cheap one at that. And Air Deccan captured this emotion beautifully in a TV film called the Old Man in the Sky a long time ago.
When Air Deccan relaunches its flights shortly, it will really bring back that nostalgia of the first time flight for many an Indian. The UDAN scheme ( Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik ) started by the Government for under 60 minute flights, is for creating air traffic between underserviced airports where tickets would cost under Rs 2500/. Air Deccan relaunches it services with flights upwards of Rs 1/. Now, many of us would have thought that was not possible!
China did much the same thing in the 90s. They provided airports in small towns even before they could even build a road network to those towns ( especially in North West China ). Their logic : a person could take a flight to his village airport and then cycle home. Of course this is long before China saw its first millionaire. And when the majority of Chinese were cycling in cycle lanes on the main roads of big cities. Local airports and cellular towers made roads and landlines redundant and accelerated progress for the Chinese.
Capt Gopinath will start with 4 bases in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkatta and Shillong. In many ways it is amazing that the original vision of the company to simplify flying is still valid a good 14 years after it first started.
A Great Brand can make a come back
But what Capt Gopinath may prove might really be that a great brand with a good reputation can always make a come back even after a long absence. Many brands are showing that they can return to make a mark even if it is not perhaps the same as their previous glory. Old Spice some time ago proved to us that if we thought that it was the after shave for older men in Europe, that was not so and it was back to change perceptions about masculinity with the “Smell like a Man ” campaign, with NFL star Isaish Mustafa.
Or Lincoln the premium brand from Ford made a comeback with Matthew McConaughey. Even though Ford unfortunately killed the brand way back in 1990. And those might not be the only examples. After all we have seen both Nokia and Blackberry make a come back. But some of those brands tried to come back after having failed.
With Air Deccan however, we are talking about a brand that everyone loved. At least those who chose to fly Air Deccan. If it got sold to Kingfisher it was only for financial compulsions. So there is every reason to believe that Air Deccan will succeed in its second innings. More than anything, because its brand proposition remains the same. Offering the first time flyer, the experience of a lifetime. And at a low and affordable cost. Their latest campaign makes that intention clear by using RK Laxman’s common man as a mascot!
‘Simplify’ is one of those endearing themes that will never go out of style!
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