Regional airlines Vs National Carriers: Contrasts in US and Indian Aviation

There was a recent announcement from the Indian government that it is seriously considering making it mandatory for the private scheduled carriers to provide connectivity to smaller cities by providing regional flights as well. This move could well mean that the scheduled operators will have to keep smaller turbo planes in their fleet as well, besides the regular planes. This is expected to dawn a new era in the field of Indian aviation and give impetus to the growth of tier II and III cities by providing better connectivity options to the people. This is being done for speeding up economic growth in those regions and to meet high demand for flight booking originating from these cities.

Now consider the situation in the US where a number of national and regional carriers operate flights throughout the country, covering the smaller cities as well. The major airlines usually have partnership agreements with the regional players and provide the flight booking facility to passengers. It has recently been reported that a number of regional carriers which were dependent on the major airlines for providing the passenger traffic to them are now shutting down and filing for bankruptcy. The major airlines are finding it unprofitable to ply on those routes which cover the smaller cities and are therefore, not providing the cheap air tickets facility to the passengers on those routes putting an end to their partnerships with smaller regional airlines which were used to provide the last leg connectivity.

Thus, the contrast is quite evident. The markets in US are mature as compared to those of India and the airlines which are not competitive or lose money find the exit route through bankruptcy filing. What is being initiated in India, is seeing the culmination in US though the results could be different for India in the end. While in the US, the passengers would have to drive for longer durations and make use of the highways to reach the airports which provide the flights, the passengers in India are going to be more at ease and find air travel more convenient. The extent of profitability that the regional airlines or the regional operations of the major airlines in India will be able to garner remains to be seen.

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