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BUSINESS - KINGFISHER AIRLINES FIRST FLIGHT - VIJAY MALLYA PHOTOS

 

Kingfisher flies high!

Kingfisher takes to skies, ending long months of anticipation. No low-budget pretensions here, Kingfisher is pure style!

 

BY SANJEEV NAIR

May 8, 2005: True to its image as the `King of  Good Times', Kingfisher Airlines has heralded a new era of flying, that too in comfort and style and at prices that lower are than existing fares in the country. Kingfisher  Airlines' first flight took off from Mumbai on Monday, May 8 with first light of the dawn.

One of the most important selling points of  Kingfisher Airlines is its prices, that are lower at around 35 to 40 per cent, compared  with other carriers operating in the country. But don't confuse Kingfisher with a low-budget  airline; the services on board are pegged as the best available in the country.

The lowest ticket fare for Kingfisher Airlines is Rs 3,900 for the Bangalore-Mumbai sector and the one above is Rs 4,900. The highest comes  for is Rs 5,900. On the Bangalore-Delhi sector, Kingfisher Airlines has priced the first slab at Rs 6,900, the next at Rs 8,900 and the highest at Rs 10,900.

"It is one of the most important projects in my career," the UB group Chairman, Vijay Mallya, said during the pre-launch flight of the carrier.

Beauty flies high, literally. The highly-trained and 'beautiful' cabin crew have been termed "walking models in the air" by none other than the flamboyant Mallya. The crew
onboard Kingfisher Funliner -- as Mallya terms his planes -- have been handpicked by the UB  Group chairman himself, who had also approved of the training programme they underwent.

Mallya also says he has instructed the Kingfisher Airlines crew to treat every guest "in the same way as if they have visited my home."

The Kingfisher stewardess' uniforms - a combination of red and white, which falls in harmony with the red and white insignia of the carrier - were designed by none other than Manoviraj Khosla, one of the top designers in the country.

Kingfisher, in spite of being a class-in-itself  airline, makes no differences between business and economy class. Putting it simply, Mallya  says that "Unlike other domestic carriers,  Kingfisher Airlines will have only one class, Kingfisher Class".

The carrier's in-flight entertainment is the expected to be the biggest crowd-puller, as it
would be the only one airliner ferrying in the  domestic sector having an in-cabin  entertainment system.

All Kingfisher aircraft have been equipped with  a personal video screen for every seat, with 10  channels of audio and five channels of video in  every seat screen, that too with personalised  headphones. Even though in-flight entertainment  is the norm in international flights, this is  the first time an Indian airline servicing only on domestic sectors provided this kind of  entertainment.

Kingfisher Airlines has chosen a spacious  layout for its A320-200 aircraft with a wider  30-inch seat pitch and larger overhead bins,  allowing maximum passenger comfort. It also claims to have the widest seat among airlines in the Indian sky.

A bit of surprise and glamour is the last thing  a passenger expects on a domestic flight. Kingfisher Airlines has roped in celebrities  including Yana Gupta, Vidisha Pavate and Atul  Kasbekar, who would hop onto any one of the carrier's filghts, mingle with the guests and pick one of them for a special gift.

The lucky passenger will be crowned as the `High Flyer of the Month'. The chosen passenger also receives a free makeover from stylist Cory Walia, a portfolio shoot by ace lensman Atul Kasbekar and a wardrobe from Manoviraj Khosla.

"I am often referred to as the ‘King of Good Times’ and I truly believe that you should share this experience with me. On a more  serious note, I log many air miles myself in
pursuit of my goals and I am sure that you do too," Mallya says in a message.

"It is my passion to deliver the best of good times. After all, work and play can go hand in hand. I am sure that you have several pressing  commitments and stressful work obligations. Like me, you also need some time to chill with the King of Good Times," he adds.

King of Good Times was a catchline written for UB Group's largest beer brand, Kingfisher.

Kingfisher is the first private Indian airline to commence operations with a brand new aircraft, A 320, which is recognised among the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family and is the preferred choice of full-service carriers.

The A 320 family is quieter and more environmentally friendly than older generation engines and provide outstanding range and  payload performance.

A total of 33 brand new Airbus aircraft are on order by Kingfisher Airlines - 10 A320s and  three A319s are on firm order, with options for buying a further 20 aircraft. In addition to  the first aircraft being introduced in May 2005, Kingfisher Airlines will introduce a new A320-232 aircraft every month during the remainder of 2005. By January 2006, Kingfisher Airlines' fleet will comprise 12 aircraft.

All aircraft are powered by International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500-A5, which are slated to be  silent and more efficient, apart from being fuel savers.

Kingfisher Airlines fleet would feature an advanced Airborne Communications Addressing and Reporting System - ACCARS - that will continuously monitor and keep watch over every aircraft, even while it is in flight.

This is the first private carrier in the  country to be equipped with ACCARS. This system, combined with centralised flight dispatch, would enable better all round management. The airlines would also enjoy a technical edge on account of its unique fleet specifications, and combined with new-plane  reliability, guests can expect unparalleled on-time performance.

All Kingfisher aircraft will be equipped with an automated external defibrillator, a simple
device used to treat sudden cardiac arrest and all aircraft would also feature a paperless cockpit, a first of its kind in the sector.

Kingfisher Airlines is a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Breweries Holdings Ltd, UB Group's investments holding company. The UB Group is one of India's largest conglomerates with a turnover of $2 billion and is the largest Indian manufacturer of beverages and alcohol.

"Leave the stress of daily life behind and enjoy the good times with Kingfisher Airlines. I have tried very hard to build an airline that meets your expectations," Mallya says.

However, if you have a grievance of if you  think Mallya has missed something, or if he  "falls short of your expectations" mail him directly at chairman@flykingfisher.com.

To quote Mallya again, "when you are happy, fly  Kingfisher Airlines".

BY SANJEEV NAIR

 

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