All crew to stations for landing?
The high-flying aviation industry and its attendant online travel portals that spun dreams for travellers and jobs for aspirants are busy tightening their belts –and fastening its seat-belts as business comes down to earth, thanks to high fuel costs and a sagging economy.
On the in-flight menu: lay-offs and cut-backs in spending.
“There is a general slowdown in the economy and people are spending less money on travel,” said Ritika Modi, regional president, Uniglobe Travel, a franchise company that caters to small and medium sized companies and leisure travellers.
JetLite, the former Sahara Airlines now under the fold of Jet Airways, is expected to trim its 2,300-employee base by 800, say company sources, though senior officials could not be reached for comment. The parent Jet Airways is immediately not affected. The current base of 2,300 is itself a trimmed version of the original 4,000-plus staff of Sahara Airlines.
Online travel portal Cleartrip has laid off about 42 people recently from its team of about 342 employees. The company says that the move is not aimed at cost cutting but more at ‘optimising’ existing resources—jargon for getting more work out of the same staff.
“Over the last couple of years we had the lowest attrition which led to a bloated staff but we are focussed on recruiting and continue to hire for our core positions,” said Stuart Crighton, chief operating officer, Cleartrip.
Online portal Travelguru is also said to be cutting costs, though company officials could not be reached. The travel and online travel agents business is hit as commission per ticket, after falling from 10 per cent to 5 per cent is now said to be heading further down, say industry watchers.
“Our domestic sales had been hit by about 3-4 per cent during July-August but we introduced new products and our performance during August has increased by 25 per cent in revenue, the best since our inception,” said Crighton, emphasizing on new service lines to boost business.
Officials at Yatra.com said that the portal generates revenue of about Rs 80-90 crore monthly of which the bulk comes from domestic flights.