India’s top Airlines

Rediff business recently published an article titled – Top Airlines of India. The article goes thru and talks about the top ten Airlines based in India. My first reaction was – India has ten airlines? Trust me, I am not too way off with that question. The number ten airline they list in the article has only four aircraft. Does it deserve to be in a top ten list? Why not just stop at top five? I see this as an over zealous reporter who had to make it top ten, just like the much talked about Time magazine on ‘ten reason to hate airlines‘.

India does have some excellent airlines. Here is my list – the top five, as it should be:

1. Air India

India’s flagship airline. It is (mostly) owned by the government. It has the largest network of domestic and international routes of all of India’s airlines. It’s current claim to fame is its multiple-year (or is it decade) effort to join Star Alliance. It has already been invited into the alliance, in an effort sponsored by it’s close partner Lufthansa. It’s hitch has been it’s inability to bring it’s IT systems upto par with what Star Alliance needs. They are currently targeting a first Quarter of 2011 joining into Star.

2. Jet airways

When India allowed private airlines to start operating on domestic routesin India, Jet airways soon emerged as leader. They brought the quality and standards that government operated Air India lacked. Today they operate flights across a large domestic and international network. They in fact, have a hub in Brussels, Belgium (BRU), catering to fights to USA and Canada on their own planes and to other parts of Europe on Brussels Airlines.

3. Kingfisher

Kingfisher is owned by Alcohol Baron Vijay Malaya, best known for his beer by the same name as the Airline. The irony is that India does not allow serving of Alcohol on domestic routes. On the international front kingfisher got around India’s strict licensing rules by buying low cost carrier Deccan Airways. More on that in a later post. Kingfisher made history recently by becoming the first Indian Airline to join a major Alliance by joining One World, beating out Air India which is still struggling to get on board with Star Alliance.

4. Spice Jet

I enjoyed flying Spice Jet. For a low cost, no frills airline. they were not bad at all. Their planes are all new and on board service was great. My only peeve with them was their lack of allowance of extra baggage for passengers connecting to international flights. I had to pay an arm and a leg for my international weight bags, as I was connecting to a Lufthansa flight.

5. IndiGo

IndiGo is anther major low cost airline in India. Say are not too different from Spice Jet. That are however, developing a reputation as a highly reliable airline with a very gird on-time record and great service. Definitely a rising star in the Indian skies.

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