--By Gaurav Aryal
Group Executive Director
Yeti Airlines was awarded the ‘Best Managed Company of the Year 2013’ by New Business Age on August 2013. Yeti Airlines bagged the award for offering best air services even in remote areas of Nepal. The airline, along with its subsidiary Tara Air, has been flying to 29 destinations across the country both with scheduled and non-scheduled flights.
Vijay Shrestha, Group Executive Director of Yeti Airlines, says the company is the market leader in rural destinations and mountain flights. The company has stood strong as a partner in transportation of local and foreign passengers, goods and transfer of tools, and equipment for development work in remote corners of Nepal. Along with this, the company has a strong foothold in services targeted at city airports.
Shrestha believes that the current range of products and services offered to all three ecological regions would help the company grow. “Both organisational and individual passengers, travel agents and development organisations will eventually come to us as we have services offered to both rural as well as the urban destinations in the hills and plains. These services and clients are critical for our growth,” he explains. The unique blend of services the company provides, the commitment of stakeholders and a strong management has put the company ahead of its competitors.
Unique Management Practices
Shrestha is of the opinion that competition in the airlines industry lies in value offerings rather than product and service offerings. The company has its own unique management practice along with the largest nationwide network of domestic flights that gives it an edge above others. Shrestha explains that clients who have to go to Humla, Pokhara, Darjeeling, Sikkim, Lukla, Lucknow or any other destination, can count on Yeti Airlines as it has flights to these places or to a nearest place.
The company has also made flight safety a top priority. “Compared to other airlines, we have invested heavily in flight safety and flight management system. We are in a leading position when it comes to safety management,” Shrestha says. He further says that the company has put a lot of resources in technologies such as ticket booking systems and management information systems.
The company has made on-time flight its unique selling point. Shrestha says that this initiative has helped the company add value to its services and brand recognition. “We have always prioritised timely flights. We prefer flying few minutes earlier than being late. This is one of the most crucial values we are offering to guarantee convenience to our clients,” he says.
A Synergy of Two Brands
The company claims that the market coverage by both Yeti and Tara Air is probably the widest among domestic players. According to Shrestha, the company has around 35 per cent market share in city airports and around 65 per cent in rural destinations though the market share keeps fluctuating depending on various market situations.
Tara and Yeti have been complementing services and coverage with a fleet size of 14 aircrafts. Shrestha says that the customer base and nature of services has determined the creation of two different brands rather than a single brand operating in both rural and urban destinations. Tara has been operating in rural destinations in hilly and mountainous regions since 2009 with a fleet of six STOL aircrafts.
The weather condition and quality of airports play a crucial role when it comes to making flight decisions in hill airports but airlines can make decisions easier in city airports. Similarly, the nature of passengers and clients is different in the areas where Tara operates. Shrestha adds that the variety in types and needs of customers, services and markets have led to the operation of two airlines under different brands.
The Yeti Group is a large business conglomerate working in the tourism and aviation industry with one and a half dozen companies. The group also owns KK Super Mart Nepal, a chain of convenience stores. The management of each of these companies is highly decentralised and each company functions independently. Hotels, resorts, lodges, trekking and travel companies and airlines operate on their own though strategic unity is maintained among them. “Operation of these businesses is largely decentralised and where possible, we try to synergise the marketing,” says Shrestha. The group has also been promoting its travel companies locally.
The group also decentralises its human resource management. Its aviation companies employ 800 personnel while the entire group employs a total of 1500 people. According to Shrestha, the company has been able to maintain a high rate of staff retention with its policy of prioritising employee welfare, motivation and creating a professional and friendly working environment. While the aviation industry ails from a lack of skilled technical workforce, the Yeti group is known to not face any shortage in technical human resource.
Though the group’s companies are performing well in their respective sectors, the group has not pursued organised branding. Instead, each company and subsidiary has its own brand recognition and is not marketed as a subsidiary of the group. Shrestha hints that organised branding is in the pipeline.
The group is planning to come up with new resorts and lodges in Chitwan and Yeti Airlines plans to consolidate value offerings to its customers. The company is dedicated to take its services to new heights by consolidating services in the urban sector. “Our aim is to develop the tourism and aviation industry for the development of the country. Mountain transport and mountain tourism cannot be imagined in the absence of Tara Air and Yeti Airlines. When the services offered are beneficial to the country and people at large, the company will always prioritise on them and strive to make them better.”
The company has not decided against reviving flights from its former international carrier - Yeti International. The international carrier was closed down after its joint venture partner Air Arabia withdrew support. Shrestha says that as the company is dedicated to move ahead in the aviation business, there is a possibility of its revival, though there are not fresh tie-ups being made at the moment.
The airline has been involved in corporate social responsibilities (CSR) since the establishment of the company. The company has been involved in health, social empowerment and education sectors through financial contributions and direct involvement in social works.
As a part of CSR, Yeti Airlines donates Rs 4 per flight ticket to four social organisations namely United Mission to Nepal, Save the Children, Habitat for Humanity and Care Nepal. The company has also provided financial support to various social organisations such as Tewa, OCCED, Maiti Nepal, Nepal Leprosy Relief, Nepal Glaucoma Eye Clinic (Tilganga), Sewa Kendra Leprosy, Helpless Children Welfare Mission, Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre, Women for Human Rights, CWIN Nepal and the Centre for Victims of Torture (CVICT).
The airline has also launched the ‘Green Far West Project’ Kailali, Doti, Rajpur and Kanchapur districts for plantation of appropriate tree saplings in chosen community forests.
Recently, the company took 18 orphans of Bal Mandir to a mountain flight on the occasion of National Children’s Day and the airlines’ 15th anniversary.