|Founded||25 August 2003
(as Air Deccan)
|Ceased operations||September 2011|
|Hubs||Bengaluru International Airport|
|Company slogan||The Choice is Simple|
|Parent company||United Breweries Group|
|Key people||G. R. Gopinath, Founder
Vijay Mallya, Chairman
Kingfisher Red, known formerly as Simplifly Deccan and prior to that as Air Deccan, was a low-cost brand run by Kingfisher Airlines headquartered in Mumbai, India. Passengers earned frequent flyer miles (called King Miles) for tickets booked on Kingfisher Red through the King Club loyalty program run by its parent Kingfisher Airlines. In-flight reading material was limited to a special edition of Cine Blitz magazine printed exclusively for Kingfisher Red. On 28 September 2011, Chairman Vijay Mallya announced that the company would soon stop operations of Kingfisher Red as it did not believe in low-cost operations any longer.
Air Deccan was a wholly owned subsidiary of Deccan Aviation. It was started by Captain G. R. Gopinath as India's first low-cost carrier and its first flight took off on 23 August 2003 from Bangalore to Hubli. It was known popularly as the common man's airline, with is logo showing two palms joined together to signify a bird flying. The tagline of the airline was "Simpli-fly," signifying that it was now possible for the common man to fly. The dream of Captain Gopinath was to enable "every Indian to fly at least once in his lifetime." Air Deccan was the first airline in India to fly to second tier cities like Hubballi, Mangalore, Madurai and Visakhapatnam from metropolitan areas like Bangalore and Chennai. Air Deccan's phenomenal growth spurred the entry of more than half a dozen low-cost air carriers in India. Later, as Kingfisher Red, the airline faced stiff competition from SpiceJet, IndiGo Airlines, Jet Lite and GoAir. The growth of these low-cost air carriers has also forced mainstream domestic Indian airlines to lower their fares.
On 25 January 2006, Deccan went public by filing a red herring prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Board of India. Deccan planned to offload 25 percent of its stake in the initial public offering (IPO) that opened on 18 May. However, due to the stock market downturn at that time, Air Deccan's IPO barely managed to scrape through, even after extending the issue closing date and reducing the price band. In a statement to the National Stock Exchange of India, Air Deccan reported a net loss of Rs 3.4 billion ($74 million) for the 15-month period between 1 April 2005 and 30 June 2006. It originally hoped to break even in the current financial year but executives were quoted in the local media saying it now did not expect to post profits until 2008 as a result of intense competition following the launch of several other new airlines. Air Deccan turned profitable on the back of a strong October–December 2006 quarter, posting a profit of Rs. 9.64 crores (a little more than US$ 2 million). On 27 February 2007, Air Deccan switched to US-based airline reservations hosting service provider Radixx International, becoming the second major domestic Indian carrier after GoAir to switch to the Radixx Air Enterprise reservation system. Before moving to the Radixx reservation system, Air Deccan was using a reservation system provided by the Delhi-based InterGlobe Technologies.
Acquisition by Kingfisher and rebranding
The "Less than expected" growth in the Indian aviation sector coupled with overcrowding and the resultant severe competition between airlines resulted in almost all the Indian carriers, including Air Deccan, running into heavy losses. After initially trying to get in fresh capital for running the airline, Captain Gopinath eventually succumbed to pressures for consolidation. On 19 December 2007, it was announced that Air Deccan would merge with Kingfisher Airlines. Since Indian aviation regulations prohibited domestic airlines from flying on international routes until they had operated in the domestic market for five years, it was decided to instead merge Kingfisher Airlines into Deccan Aviation, following which Deccan Aviation would be renamed Kingfisher Airlines. This was because Air Deccan was the older of the two airlines, and therefore would be the first to qualify for flying on international routes. The merger became effective April 2008, with Vijay Mallya becoming the Chairman and CEO of the new company, while G. R. Gopinath became its Vice-Chairman. Kingfisher Airlines' parent company United Breweries Group acquired a 26 percent stake in Air Deccan's parent company Deccan Aviation. The combined fleet of 71 Airbus A320 family and ATR aircraft operated 537 flights to 69 Indian cities taking advantage of synergy benefits arising from a common fleet of aircraft that improved financial prospects for both carriers. Kingfisher Airlines continued to serve the corporate and business travel segment while Air Deccan focused on serving the low-fare segment.
In October 2007, after the acquisition by Kingfisher Airlines, Air Deccan was renamed "Simplifly Deccan" with its new tagline being "The choice is simple". The old logo was replaced by the Kingfisher logo and the same font of Kingfisher Airlines was also used on Simplifly Deccan. The old yellow and blue colors of Air Deccan were replaced by Kingfisher Airlines's red and white, supposedly to give the same premium look and feel to Deccan as well. The check-in counters at airports as well as the crew uniforms now had the same red and white colors as those for Kingfisher Airlines. The new look airline also promised excellent on-time performance, a wider network and "little delights all the way". Check-in staff would no longer be outsourced, but managed by the airline's own employees, to increase accountability and improve service delivery. Mr Mallya announced that the new airline would slowly phase out the ageing ATR 42 and A320 planes and replace them with new aircraft. Changes were also made in the flight schedule of Simplifly Deccan airlines to better align with that of Kingfisher Airlines. According to agencies, the re-branding was expected to cost around Rs 15 crore (approximately $3.8m). After its merger, Air Deccan switched to the Sabre reservation system used by Kingfisher Airlines, thereby replacing the previous solution provided by Radixx. In August 2008, the airline announced further changes in its branding to Kingfisher Red and said that it will begin operating under Kingfisher's IATA code IT.
Kingfisher Red operated to several Indian and a few international destinations.
Accidents and incidents
Air Deccan had an inauspicious start to its operations on 24 September 2003, with its flight from Hyderabad to Vijaywada catching fire on the runway when it was taxiing before take-off. That flight was carrying several dignitaries such as the then BJP president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, the then Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, and Telugu Desam Party leader K. Yerran Naidu. This was operated using an ATR 42 aircraft. Again, on 29 March 2004, another Air Deccan flight from Goa to Bangalore had to return half an hour after take off as smoke filled the cabin. This aircraft was also an ATR 42. On 11 March 2006, an Air Deccan flight travelling from Coimbatore to Bangalore made a heavy landing on the runway at Bangalore's HAL Airport and skidded off the runway. The aircraft was carrying 44 people (40 passengers and 4 crew). Although there were no fatalities, the aircraft, an ATR 72, was severely damaged.
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