Ankush Nijhawan, Managing Director, Nijhawan Group, is upbeat about various measures formulated at TBO for the benefit of the stakeholders in the industry and optimistic for the aviation sector in 2020. Ankush shares his views with TTJ.
Looking back at the year 2019, Ankush takes stock of the market sentiment, “The industry had a lot of hiccups, especially in H1 as Jet Airways went down, followed by many other large companies which unfortunately folded owing to a variety of reasons and the recent economic slowdown. The brighter side though remains is that every airline you fly, be it domestic or international, there is no seat. I don’t know who’s flying, but the reality is, irrespective of the slowdown, airlines are always full.
Speaking for our company, 2019 has been the best year for TBO. With the market growth at 2 per cent in the domestic, we posted a growth of 52 per cent, which I strongly believe is due to the trust of our partners and stakeholders across the travel system coupled with our services and technology. It is our ethics towards conducting business that is being demonstrated by the super growth that we witnessed in 2019.”
Looking at 2020, Ankush would like to urge the government to look into a few things, one being the TCS reconciliation with airlines since this is something which affects a lot of cash flow. The other thing is the GST is getting there, it’s very good now. There is some room left for 100 per cent seamless reconciliation with the GST.
Sharing views on aviation sector Ankush states, “I think Jet is past now. I keep hearing about Air India privatisation. Whether it eventuates or doesn’t, I must mention that it is of utmost pride to have Air India as our national carrier. When it comes to in-flight, it is by far a very good product, the new Dreamliner 787, but I think just on the commercial side, certain things need to be looked into and rectified. Air India is an outstanding airline, especially the in-flight service, and going by current feedback and my personal opinion I would like to conclude that irrespective of the airline being privatised or not, Air India possesses the capability and potential to do far better and beyond known limits.”
Elaborating on the impact of budget, Ankush opines that with some personal income tax going down, there definitely will be some disposable income coming back to the market, enabling travellers to indulge in taking more holidays and spending on travel with family and friends. “Otherwise, I don’t see any significant change happening when it comes to GST towards travel, though cutting taxes will definitely help”, says Ankush.
It is indeed welcoming to learn that IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir are adding more than 100 aircrafts this year. With more airlines and aircrafts, connectivity to tier II, tier III and tier IV cities will be enhanced, more international routes will open up thus balancing the demand and supply equation.
Stepping into 2020 has initiated active promotion of the three invaluable products launched in late 2019 by TBO.
TBO will be one of the first few companies in the world to have Hajj in Umrah visas online which means that the company is one of the GDS approved by the Ministry of Hajj for processing hotels, packages and visas for Hajj in Umrah from India.
TBO has launched its own corporate self-booking tool, called Paxes. This tool will enable travel agents to service their corporates which will give them facilities like lot of compliances or some travel requirements which corporates require. The company believes that this is something that may be immensely beneficial and help the small and medium travel agents in India.
Another is the TBO Academy. “I strongly believe, 70 per cent of the bookers working in the travel agencies have never been abroad. The academy has been introduced to impart education and enhance learning amongst this segment of workers”, explains Ankush. TBO Academy is a virtual academy having 110 capsules of various tourism boards, hotels and theme parks which will help the booker to learn about these destinations and hotels, further enabling them to serve the customer better. This is absolutely free for every travel agent who works with TBO.
Ankush sums up on a positive note mentioning that the company intends on further strengthening their Asia Pacific market. “As it is, we are making more in-roads into Europe and any worldly acquisition which we strongly believe will complement TBO is something we are very open to look at, within India and overseas,” concludes Ankush.