Ashish Rastogi, IIM Calcutta Understanding the business of flying

While living in the US, I had read and heard a lot about the success story of Southwest Airlines, operating in a highly competitive airlines industry, which is struggling with  rising fuel prices and shrinking passenger capacities. It is probably the same situation worldwide and the story in India isn’t that different either.

Recently, on my way back to New Delhi from Calcutta, I was flying on Indigo Airlines. For the uninitiated, Indigo is one of India’s most successful and innovative airlines. The curious mind would ask, ‘Why are other domestic airlines struggling when Indigo is thriving?’.

Well, the course on operations management has helped me understand it all. When we start looking at operations from a business perspective, suddenly a lot of things that would otherwise appear to be unusual start to make sense. This is definitely one of the most fascinating things I have learned during my MBA.

Future managers like us must realise that it is not only efficiency of service delivery, but also its effectiveness that matters, be it any industry – manufacturing, automotive, aviation, IT, retail etc. One of the major factors that contributes to Indigo’s effective  service delivery is its hub-and-spoke model of operation. Indigo routes its flights from different locations to a central hub and then to different destinations or spokes. The turnaround time for its flights is around 20 minute and it allows Indigo aircraft to fly around 12 hours per day. Isn’t that amazing?

The right operations strategy can help to drive costs down, maximise the quality of service delivery and result in exceeding customer expectations. This is where the operations frameworks come in. They can help the selection of the right operations model, analyse the bottlenecks in the entire value chain and help to minimise delays and operations costs that eventually help the airlines to perform better.

For a current or would-be MBA student, a solid grounding in strategy and operations is a must if they are to build similar success stories in their careers. Understanding a particular business from multiple dimensions is imperative to ensure long-term success.