Simplifly Deccan

Simplifly Deccan
Simplifly Deccan logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
DN[1] DKN[1] DECCAN[2]
Commenced operations25 August 2003
Ceased operations29 August 2008
Operating bases
Fleet size40 (in September 2007)
Parent companyUnited Breweries Group
HeadquartersBengaluru, Karnataka, India
Key peopleG. R. Gopinath, founder

Simplifly Deccan, formerly known as Air Deccan, was the first Indian low-cost carrier. Headquartered in Bengaluru, it operated domestic flights from seven base airports using a fleet of Airbus A320, ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft. The airline appealed to middle class travellers with low fares and a large route network. It employed several innovative methods to ensure the profitability of its business model. Nevertheless, Simplifly Deccan merged with Kingfisher Airlines in April 2008. Kingfisher replaced the Deccan brand with Kingfisher Red in August 2008.


Air Deccan (2003–2007)

Air Deccan used ATR aircraft for regional destinations.

Simplifly Deccan was founded as Air Deccan by G. R. Gopinath, a retired Indian Army captain who had gained experience in the aviation industry through his Deccan Aviation venture.[3] Air Deccan became a wholly owned subsidiary of Deccan Aviation.[4] The airline launched operations on 25 August 2003 with a flight from Bengaluru to Hubbali.[5][6] At that time, its fleet consisted of two ATR 42-320 aircraft.[7] In order to increase capacity on its trunk routes, Air Deccan purchased two Airbus A320-200s and leased five in 2004.[8] In December of that year, the airline purchased an additional 30 A320s in a US$1.8 billion order.[9] It ordered 30 ATR 72-500s in February 2005.[10]

The airline underwent rapid growth, witnessing 30% growth in its passenger numbers in 2005–2006.[11] In 2006 it was the third largest airline in India with a 19% market share, flying to 55 destinations with 30 aircraft.[12] It placed an order for 30 more Airbus A320s in December 2006.[13] The airline experienced 42% growth in passenger traffic in 2006–2007, becoming the nation's second largest carrier in 2007. As it grew, other low-cost carriers emerged in the Indian market; SpiceJet, GoAir, IndiGo and JetLite were all launched between 2005 and 2007.[11]

Low-cost strategy

An Air Deccan Airbus A320 with NDTV advertising
Interior of a Simplifly Deccan Airbus A320

Air Deccan was the first low-cost carrier in India.[7] Launched amid a booming Indian economy and a growing middle class, the airline targeted middle class travellers with its low fares and extensive route network.[14] Tickets cost around 30% less than those of full-service airlines and cost about the same as or less than first class rail tickets.[12] Air Deccan focused on providing air service to underserved airports across the country, where competition was low and the airline could acquire a loyal customer base.[11] G. R. Gopinath claimed he wanted to make air travel accessible to every Indian.[15]

It is not the elite that I consider as my customers. It is the humble cleaning women of my office, the auto-rickshaw driver and other such people that we would like to cater to. We want them to dream that they too can fly, and we want to make that dream happen.

— G. R. Gopinath[16]

The airline operated a single cabin class, economy, allowing it to pack more seats into its aircraft. Following its no-frills approach, it charged for all food and beverages served on board.[17] Payment was also required for cancellations,[18] and no refunds or accommodations were provided to passengers who had missed their flights.[15]

Air Deccan operated a point-to-point route network from seven base airports.[15] It maintained low turnaround times and often outsourced work to local airport employees, especially at airports that saw few Air Deccan flights and did not require dedicated employees throughout the day. Air Deccan also gained advertising revenue by allowing advertisements both inside and outside its aircraft.[19] For reservations, the airline utilised multiple channels. Passengers could book tickets through travel agents, on the Internet or through call centres.[20] Each of these channels was connected to a fully web-enabled reservation system, making Air Deccan the first in India to use such a system.[21] Air Deccan also avoided the cost of printing tickets; passengers or travel agents were required to do so off the Internet.[20]

Simplifly Deccan (2007–2008)

In early May 2007, rumours began to circulate that Vijay Mallya, founder of Kingfisher Airlines, was interested in buying Air Deccan.[22] dispelled the rumours, claiming "[Mallya and I] are from different planets; he is from Venus, I am from Mars".[23] Gopinath believed it was impossible to merge the airlines' separate business models; Kingfisher was a full-service carrier.[24] Nevertheless, negotiations began at the end of the month, and Kingfisher parent United Breweries Group purchased a controlling 26% stake in Deccan Aviation on 31 May.[25] Gopinath had changed his mind upon understanding that the two airlines would continue to function independently.[24][26] In addition, he needed to raise funds;[27] Air Deccan had lost 213 crore (US$30 million) during the quarter ending 31 March 2007.[26] Air Deccan was rebranded Simplifly Deccan in October 2007 and adopted Kingfisher's livery and flight attendant uniform.[28]

In December 2007, the airlines announced that they would merge into a single corporate entity while maintaining separate brands.[29] The airline business of Kingfisher Airlines Ltd was merged into Deccan Aviation Ltd on 1 April 2008.[a] The charter business of Deccan Aviation Ltd was spun off into a separate company known as Deccan Charters Ltd.[31] The combined company utilised Simplifly Deccan's operating permit, allowing it to launch international flights in 2008; Simplifly Deccan would complete five years of operation that year.[b][33] Mallya introduced major changes to the Simplifly Deccan brand in order to reduce losses and improve the airline's reputation, which had declined because of poor on-time performance. He also wanted to give the airline a premium touch while it remained a low-cost carrier. Simplifly Deccan ended the practice of outsourcing check-in staff, lengthened turnaround times and stopped selling tickets at promotional fares.[34][35]

Simplifly Deccan and Kingfisher continued to operate domestically with their own airline codes. Unless the airlines consolidated under a single set of codes, the Ministry of Civil Aviation required Kingfisher to use Deccan's codes on international routes; Mallya, on the other hand, wanted to use Kingfisher's codes.[36] On 29 August 2008, both airlines started using Kingfisher's codes. Simplifly Deccan also migrated to Kingfisher's reservation system and was renamed Kingfisher Red.[36][37]

Corporate affairs and identity

Former logo

Through the merger with Kingfisher Airlines, Simplifly Deccan became a subsidiary of United Breweries Group.[27] Headquarters were located on Cunningham Road in Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka.[38]


Simplifly Deccan adopted the livery of Kingfisher Airlines following the merger. The tail, engines and underside were painted red, and the kingfisher bird logo was applied to the tail. The former livery consisted of a fading blue cheatline and, on the tail, a blue circle with two yellow hands joined at the thumb like the wings of a bird.[39] The airline's mascot, R. K. Laxman's The Common Man, was often incorporated into the old livery. It was chosen in May 2005 to emphasise Simplifly Deccan's goal of making air travel more accessible.[40]


At the time it ceased operations, Simplifly Deccan flew to 52 destinations across India. It had bases at seven Indian cities: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai.[41] The airline opened a base at Thiruvananthapuram in April 2006;[42] however, it ended flights to the airport in early 2008.[c]


A Simplifly Deccan Airbus A320 taxiing at the Mumbai airport in March 2008

Simplifly Deccan operated a fleet of ATR 42, ATR 72 and Airbus A320 aircraft. For routes of higher demand between major cities, Simplifly Deccan used its larger Airbus A320s.[45]

Simplifly Deccan was operating the following aircraft in September 2007:[46][47]

Simplifly Deccan fleet
Aircraft In service Passengers
Airbus A320 22 180
ATR 42 10 48
ATR 72 8 72
Total 40


In 2003, on the planned launch flight from Begumpet airport, Hyderabad to Vijayawada, having onboard guests including Pratap Reddy, M Venkaiah Naidu and other political leaders, one of the engines caught fire while taxiing for takeoff and the flight was aborted. All passengers survived the incident.[1]

On 11 March 2006, Air Deccan Flight 108 made a hard landing and skidded off runway 27 at HAL Airport in Bengaluru. The aircraft was an ATR 72-500 registered VT-DKC flying between Coimbatore and Bengaluru.[48] Five passengers received minor injuries, and the aircraft suffered major damage to its undercarriage.[49] The airport was closed for almost five hours following the incident.[50] In the end, the aircraft was sold to be used for spares.[48]

Popular culture

The Tamil-language movie of Surya- Soorarai Pottru which was released on Amazon Prime Video, was inspired by the initial events of Air Deccan and its founder G. R. Gopinath.[51]


  1. ^ Kingfisher Airlines Ltd also operated a training and ground services business, which did not merge with Deccan Aviation Ltd.[30]
  2. ^ At the time, Indian civil aviation policy required an airline to complete five years of operation and maintain a fleet of at least 20 aircraft before beginning international routes.[32]
  3. ^ Thiruvananthapuram was listed in Simplifly Deccan's flight schedule effective 28 October 2007 to 29 March 2008,[43] but it was not listed in the final schedule effective 30 March to 25 October 2008.[44]


  1. ^ a b "Air Deccan". ch-aviation. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Change 3 of Order 7340.1Z, Contractions" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. 15 March 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 January 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  3. ^ Kazmi 2008, p. 535.
  4. ^ Rao, Girish (17 April 2003). "Air Deccan to take off in Aug with ATR-42s". The Economic Times. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Air Deccan to launch country's first low-cost flight on Aug 25". The Economic Times. 17 August 2003. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Air Deccan services to be launched today". The Hindu. 25 August 2003. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  7. ^ a b Kazmi 2008, p. 531.
  8. ^ "Airbus lands $130 million Deccan sale". Flightglobal. 26 February 2004. Archived from the original on 13 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Air Deccan to acquire 30 aircraft from Airbus". The Hindu. 21 December 2004. Archived from the original on 21 March 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Air Deccan gets its first new aircraft". The Economic Times. 16 June 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Gross & Lück 2016.
  12. ^ a b Sampler 2006, p. 1.
  13. ^ "Air Deccan orders 30 more Airbus A320s". Airbus (Press release). 3 January 2006. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  14. ^ Swaminathan 2009, p. 144.
  15. ^ a b c Mahadevan 2007, p. 26.
  16. ^ Kazmi 2008, p. 539.
  17. ^ Kazmi 2008, pp. 539–540.
  18. ^ Sampler 2006, p. 9.
  19. ^ Kazmi 2008, p. 540.
  20. ^ a b Sampler 2006, pp. 10–11.
  21. ^ "Air Deccan migrates to Radixx Reservation System". Oneindia. 17 March 2007. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  22. ^ "Air Deccan denies bid by rival Kingfisher". Daily News and Analysis. 4 May 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Biz is art of the possible: Gopinath". The Economic Times. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  24. ^ a b Shukla, Tarun; Raghu, K. (1 June 2007). "Kingfisher deal to buy 26% of Deccan spells consolidation". Livemint. Archived from the original on 21 June 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  25. ^ "Kingfisher buys control of Air Deccan". The Times of India. 1 June 2007. Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Vijay Mallya lands 26% stake in Deccan Aviation". The Hindu Business Line. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  27. ^ a b "Deccan Aviation to merge with Kingfisher Airlines". 20 December 2007. Archived from the original on 8 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  28. ^ Kapoor, Chetan. "Simplifly Deccan from October 20". The Financial Express. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  29. ^ Somasundaram, Narayanan; Mukherjee, Arpan (20 December 2007). "Deccan-Kingfisher combine to look at share sale". Reuters. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  30. ^ "Kingfisher, Air Deccan boards okay swap ratio". The Economic Times. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  31. ^ Kingfisher Annual Report 2007–08 (PDF) (Report). United Breweries Group. 15 October 2008. p. 2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 January 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  32. ^ "Govt scraps 5/20 rule for carriers". Deccan Herald. 17 June 2016. Archived from the original on 18 June 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  33. ^ Balasubramanyam, K. R. (27 January 2008). "Can this marriage work?". Business Today. Archived from the original on 22 June 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  34. ^ "Mallya touch: Deccan to fly red & white all the way". The Economic Times. 4 September 2007. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  35. ^ Giriprakash 2014.
  36. ^ a b Kumar, Nirbhay; Chauhan, Chanchal (27 August 2008). "Call-sign hitch may delay Kingfisher's global dream". The Economic Times. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  37. ^ Singhal, Manisha (29 August 2008). "Deccan to be rebranded Kingfisher Red". Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  38. ^ Verma, Varuna (16 September 2007). "In four years we have become bigger than Indian Airlines. We have created a revolution'". The Telegraph. Kolkata. Archived from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  39. ^ Sinha, Saurabh (15 August 2007). "Kingfisher, Air Deccan push for foreign ticket". The Economic Times. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  40. ^ "Air Deccan unveils new mascot". The Hindu. 5 May 2005. Archived from the original on 21 March 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  41. ^ "Air Deccan to open Ahmedabad's first ever aircraft base". 2 September 2006. Archived from the original on 8 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  42. ^ "Thiruvananthapuram to be seventh base for Air Deccan". Oneindia. 25 March 2006. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  43. ^ "Schedules". Simplifly Deccan. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  44. ^ "Summer Schedules from 30th March 2008 to 25th October 2008". Simplifly Deccan. Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  45. ^ Sampler 2006, p. 8.
  46. ^ Krishnan, Rishikesha (2008). The Indian Airline Industry in 2008 (PDF) (Report). Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. p. 6. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  47. ^ Balasubramanian 2007, p. 240.
  48. ^ a b "ASN Aircraft accident ATR-72-212A (ATR-72-500) VT-DKC Bangalore-Hindustan Airport (BLR)". Aviation Safety Network. 18 June 2016. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  49. ^ "Air Deccan aircraft skids off runway". The Hindu Business Line. 11 March 2006. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  50. ^ "Landing accident sets off weekend chaos at Bangalore airport". The Hindu. 12 March 2006. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  51. ^ Janani K. (13 November 2020). "Captain GR Gopinath praises Soorarai Pottru, says it's heavily dramatised, but captures true essence". India Today. Retrieved 13 November 2020.


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