Crash Landing of Air Hostess Training Institutes

5 07 2008

The growth in aviation sector has created a brand new business – air hostess training. These institutes have mushroomed all over the country, more so in North India.

 

These institutes have been luring the youth to get a glamorous job in the fast growing aviation sector. The minimum eligibility for joining these courses is 10+2 and age between 17 to 24 years. With such a low entry criteria and prospect of a glamorous career, no wonder thousands are signing up. More so, in small towns, where job prospects otherwise are few.

 

Most of these institutes offer a one-year diploma in after higher secondary (+2), which prepares the candidates to become join the cabin crew of an airlines. The titles of the course are usually snazzed up to delude the impressionable youth. For example, the course at Frankfinn  is called “Aviation Hospitality and Travel Management.” The course content is a mix of soft skills, some industry specific skills like ticketing and reservation, some domain knowledge about aviation industry, followed by a project. These are typically part-time courses, two hours a days, 5 days a week. The annual fee ranges from Rs 1 to 1.25 lakh per student for the program. The course provides 100% placement assistance. Mark the word –  it is only assistance and not assured placement. But to be fair to them, many of their students have got placed in the various airlines and 5-star hotels. 

 

Frankfinn  is the market leader in India. Promoted by a Supreme Court advocate K.S.Kohli, Frankfinn has no French or Finnish connection.  It is headquartered in Mumbai and has over 115 centres across the length and breadth of the country. I spoke to one centre and I learnt that they have nine batches of 25 students running concurrently. Extrapolating the same, annual output would be probably in the region of 20,000 from across India. No wonder, Frankfinn claims to have a turnover of Rs 250 crore and has expressed an ambition of starting an airline  – Air Frankfinn. It has even leased an Airbus for training purposes.Currently it is a private limited company. It has proposed an IPO sometime soon.

 

Air Hostess Academy  is another national player. Promoted by a husband and wife team. Sapna Gupta is the public face of this institute which  has been in existence for over 10 years. Now it has a network of 35 centres with 8000 students.

 

Flying-Cats, a regional player from North-India, has all-India ambitions. It uses high profile Bollywood stars like Malaika Arora and Kareena Kapoor to promote the course. This institute has tied up with Annamalai University to offer a dual course. A BBA from Annamalai and Air Hostess training from Flying Cats.

 

Aptech, one of the leaders in Computer training also has entered this business recently through its Avalon Aviation Academy. They also offer a variety of diplomas in various aspects of aviation. They have a unique promise, 100 % job guarantee or 50% money back.

 

Kingfisher Training Academy has been promoted by Kingfisher Airlines. This academy started in Mumbai, but has now become operational in all metros. Besides, the one- year program, they offer a six-month program too.

 

A back of the envelope calculations tells me that this business would easily be training 40,000 students annually and generating Rs. 500 crore revenue for the promoters.

 

 

If the Indian aviation industry grows at 25% p.a, like it did till 2007-08 and it implements its aircraft acquisition plans, there will be 40,000 vacancies of cabin-crew jobs by the year 2010. Typically, such jobs pay Rs 15,000-Rs 16000 per month. During last two years alone, over 60,000-70,000 trained students from these institutes have been found waiting for placement. Some may be employed by the hospitality industry, but that is most likely a stop-gap job for most.

 

With the fuel prices going through the roof and the industry reeling under losses, many Indian airlines have cut down their flights. Laying off cabin-crew will follow. If the crude prices come down and the Indian aviation gets back to its growth path, there will be jobs for these aspirants. I do not expect more than one out of three to get an airline cabin-crew job.

 

A  violent shake-out is imminent. Readers may recall what happened to the IT training industry in 2001-02. The entry barriers to these businesses are low, so are exit barriers.

 

– G. Mohan.

 

 

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