Singapore Airlines Inspired By Air India?

By • Jun 11th, 2008
Category: Business & Tech, Diaspora, Featured, Ideas, San Francisco/Silicon Valley
Play

N. SunderajSingapore Airlines inspired by Air India? Well, it seems that was just the case in the world of aviation not so long ago. Until the 1960s Air India (AI) under JRD Tata was one of the top-notch International airlines and was a role model for Singapore Airlines way back in the 1970s. It is hard to believe that while Air India lost its edge within 20 years and in the same period Singapore Airlines went from a small airlines to a world-class airlines and a trend setter in the aviation industry. How did Singapore Airlines transform itself into a well-recognized brand and airlines? Anyone remember the Singapore Girl advertisement? I had lots of unanswered questions and turned to N. Sunderaj or “Raj”, who was part of the early Singapore Airlines team and and helped expand Singapore Airlines’ footprint around the world.

This is a two-part interview. In Part-1 Raj talks about the connection between Air India and Singapore Airlines, and how with laser sharp focus the airlines emerged as one of the top airlines in the world. How did Singapore Airlines do it? How did they do their branding and marketing? How did Singapore Airlines emerge as a trend setter known for its excellent service, innovation and marketing? Maybe there is a lesson here for India on how it lost out on its early advantage in the aviation industry.

Raj started his career with Air India in Singapore and then joined Singapore Airlines. After spending 25 years at Singapore Airlines Raj retired as VP from the airlines. He had barely settled down to enjoy his retirement days when he was recruited into Naresh Goyal’s Jet Airways, where he was a senior executive and helped raise the profile of Jet Airways. “India to India,” is how Raj describes his stint with Jet Airways and in an ironic twist of fate he brought back to India what he had learned from his first job working for Air India. Raj thinks that his former boss Naresh Goyal has the spirit, motivation and ambition to make Jet Airways into one of the top airlines in the world. After Jet Airways Raj joined Air Sahara from where he retired as senior VP recently.

An aviation buff Raj continues to track the latest developments in the the aviation industry.

Raj lives with his wife Geetha in the San Francisco bay area.

Technorati Tags: ,,,,,,,,,,,,

Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,

6 Responses »

  1. This is fascinating. Who would have ever thought that Air India could be an inspiration for a top-notch airline like SIA. But coming from the horse’s mouth, you have to believe it. I wonder how different Air India would have been today had it remained under JRD Tata all this while.

    I was at a travel fair in Singapore last year, and right next to a huge SIA booth was an even bigger, more posh Jet Airways booth. I was taken a back, and truly impressed that the Indian airline was ‘beating’ SIA right on its turf. Now that Raj mentions it, it all makes sense. Jet Airways couldn’t have chosen a better model for branding themselves. Learning from the best reflects – they just won the Freddies, while SIA didn’t.

    I think the next airline to keep an eye on will be Kingfisher. Mallya’s got the celebrity status of Richard Branson, and the deep pockets of Donald Trump to make it happen. Watch out, Jet, Air India, and even Singapore Airlines.

  2. [...] case you missed Part-1 of the interview with Raj you may want to listen to it. Raj spoke about the evolution of Singapore [...]

  3. Thanks Shasank for your thoughtful comments.

    Yes, Air India was apparently the gold standard for airlines in the 1960s under JRD Tata.

    As Raj points out Naresh Goyal has the vision, the attitude and the persistance to make Jet a global airlines.

    And certainly Vijay Mallaya has the flair, flamboyance and vision to create a global airlines.

    Exciting times ahead from branding perspective…but watch out for that rising oil price.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Kamla

  4. [...] come up with some ideas to save this once well-regarded Maharaja brand. In fact, I know that when Singapore Airlines began operations, they heavily hired the best from Air India! I’m not sure if Air India can return to its former glory anytime soon, but these ideas [...]

  5. [...] come up with some ideas to save this once well-regarded Maharaja brand. In fact, I know that when Singapore Airlines began operations, they heavily hired the best from Air India! I’m not sure if Air India can return to its former glory anytime soon, but these ideas should [...]

  6. what a fascinating story.It only shows what a great airline has lost its place in the sky.Could I get mr sunderraj’s email.I wish to interview him for our website.Present AI staffers will be inspired by his story.

Leave a Reply