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Sky wars: Dishing out dirt on rivals

A propaganda war using Internet is being fought by private airlines to outwit competitors, reports Nandini R Iyer.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 14:11 IST

With competition comes dirty dealings. That's what's happening with private airlines today. And they've found a handy tool in the Internet.

After slashing fares, increasing flight frequency and doing everything legally possible to draw in the crowds, airlines are now resorting to leaking out — and in some cases even manufacturing - dirt on their rivals. This they do via email.

A popular trick is to create email IDs replicating the name of a competitor/senior official in a rival airline and pass on information that would hurt them.

For instance, Airline 1 sends email about the number of flight cancellations Airline II has had.

Or in an even smarter move, Airline I sends out harmful mail from a fake Airline II address about a third competitor.

While some emails spread disinformation about a rival, others provide authentic data detrimental to the rival.

When the finance ministry recently allowed government officials to travel on private airlines, all airlines devised strategies to cash in on the opportunity.

Airline A managed to get hold of Airline B's internal mail communication detailing its strategy and forwarded a copy of the mail to journalists from a miscellaneous ID.

To all appearances, it looked like the miscellaneous ID owner had received the mail from a senior director in Airline B.

Such aliases are routinely used to leak information about rivals like cancellations, logistics of market share, how it is losing business, even pilot absenteeism details.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 03:16 IST