Monday, June 17, 2013

The History Of Sahara Airlines

The History of Sahara Airlines

Sahara Airlines was a pioneer in India's private airline industry. It survived repeated price wars and ever-changing competition to become one of the country's largest airlines. In 2009, the company is part of Jet Airways, India's third largest carrier. Jet Airways had total sales of more than $1.4 billion in the fiscal year of 2006 to 2007.

Sahara India Pariwar and Deregulation

The Sahara India Pariwar Company was started in 1978 in New Delhi, India. Though the company started out in finance, it quickly grew to become one of India's largest conglomerates, with the company producing everything from housing to films. As the Indian government began to deregulate the country's airline industry in the early 1990s, Sahara India was one of the first companies to enter this new market. They formed Sahara Airlines Limited, and began operation in December 1993.

Sahara Airlines

Sahara Airlines started with just one plane, a Boeing 737. During a training flight in early 1994, the plane crashed, and the company purchased another similar plane. This period, following Indian airline deregulation in the early 1990s, was marked by dozens of small carriers that opened for operations, then quickly closed due to price wars. Sahara Airlines was one of only two companies that were able to stay in business during this period, though profit margins were slim. In the 1997 to 1998 fiscal year, the company earned $1.2 million in profits on $78.7 million in gross sales.


In an effort to increase profits and stay viable, Sahara Airlines began to focus on building the company's brand. In 1999, the company added four helicopters to its fleet of eight airplanes. Helicopter tours and transport were a growing market in India at the time, and Sahara faced little competition. In late 2000, Sahara Airlines changed its name to Air Sahara, and started a loyalty club for frequent fliers called the "Sahara Crown Club." In 2001, Sahara Airlines started a travel website to allow customers to book flights and travel packages. The site was hugely successful and helped increase market share.

The 21st Century

As Indian airlines engaged in repeated price wars throughout the early 21st century, Sahara Airlines focused on marketing. In 2002, the company purchased a hotel in Mumbai to complement its successful website travel packages. Sahara also marketed itself aggressively towards business travelers, and by late 2002, more than 40 percent of the company's customer base was comprised of corporations. In 2004, following further deregulation, Sahara Airlines was the first company in India to operate an international flight from India to Sri Lanka.


From the start of Indian air deregulation in the early 1990s through the early 21st century, only two private airlines, Sahara Airlines and Jet Airways, were able to maintain continuous operations. In April 2007, Jet Airways agreed to purchase Sahara for $338 million. Sahara was renamed "JetLite," and acts as Jet Airways' low-cost carrier. The newly merged company started operations with more than 90 aircraft and 10,000 employees.

Tags: Sahara Airlines, early 1990s, more than, price wars, Sahara India, airline industry, Airlines Sahara