Now that the peak travel season in India is over SpiceJet has begun removing the business class seats from their acquired former Jet Airways aircraft.
When India’s full-service airline Jet Airways stopped flying back in April due to financial problems, SpiceJet and fellow Indian airline Vistara took the opportunity to acquire some of the troubled airline’s planes.
Not only was this good news for Jet Airways lessors, it could not have come at a better time for SpiceJet. With the peak travel month just around the corner, SpiceJet had just lost the use of 13 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft following the worldwide grounding of the type. What the no-frills airline did was immediately procure 30 of Jet Airways’ leased Boeing 737NGs.
When speaking with the Financial Express back in May about the former Jet Airways planes SpiceJet’s CFO Kiran Koteshwar said:
“The deals we have got are very exceptional because the situation was more opportunistic. It was a win-win for both lessors and us. Their aircraft was stranded in India and it would have taken them a long time to rationalize the asset. We asked them to get the aircraft airworthy and did short-term leases of 1-2 years.”
SpiceJet temporarily decided to keep Jet Airways’ business class seats
Another smart move on SpiceJet’s part was not to try and remove Jet Airways business class seats to conform to their fleet but to fly the jets as they were until the peak travel season was over.
All this, of course, meant that the planes had business class seats that SpiceJet sold for half the price of what Vistara was charging for their business class product.
The consequences of this move, if you can call it that, is that SpiceJet now has a fleet of aircraft that are all configured differently.
The aircraft and seating configurations are as follows:
- Four 737-700s with 8 business class seats and 126 economy class seats.
- Three 737-700s with 149 economy class seats.
- 28 737-800s with 189 economy class seats, 23 737-800s with 12 business class seats and 156 economy class seats.
- One 737-900 with 28 business class seats and 139 economy class seats.
- Four 737-900ERs with 212 economy class seats.
- 13 737-8 MAX with 189 economy class seat.
SpiceJet is now starting to remove the business class seats
SpiceJet’s foray into the full-service airline world with its forced upon business class seating appears to be coming to an end, with the old Jet Airways planes all being converted to 100% economy class seating.
SpiceJet’s CFO Kiran Koteshwar pointed out during the Financial Express interview that SpiceBiz was only ever going to be temporary, saying,
“We are very clear that SpiceJet’s is a low-cost model. We have not launched any business class product. It was just that we had seats, which we inherited with the aircraft. We didn’t want to ground the aircraft during a peak season to reconfigure the seats. In August, when the lean season starts, we will see the results if we want to continue it or not. Our plan is to bring back (the aircraft) to 189 seats. In fact, we have started ordering seats because we don’t want to re-look and then decide to order seats as another two months will go into it.”
SpiceJet’s boss is a man of his word
It would now appear that SpiceJet’s boss is a man of his word with aviation website Live from a Lounge reporting that one of SpiceJet’s Boeing 737-800s just returned to service following MRO.
The former Jet Airways 737-800 was given the registration VT-JGW in June and then disappeared into the shop for reconfiguration.
Before entering the workshop the aircraft had 12 business class seats and 156 economy class seats. Now back in service from the 26th of September 2019 the plane has 186 all-economy class seats.
From SpiceJet’s point of view the SpiceBiz offering was always going to be short-lived until such a time the airline was able to reconfigure the aircraft. This now appears to be underway with the Indian low-cost carrier sticking to their business plan.
What do you think, is SpiceJet right to go back to their business plan and reconfigure the aircraft or should they continue to offer their version of business class?