India has quickly become one of the largest civil aviation markets, opening the doors to domestic air travel with an estimated 800 aircraft in 2020. Star Air, launched in 2019, is known for its outstanding passenger experience and safety efforts. The airline continues to expand its network across the country.
Connected Aviation Today had the opportunity to connect with Star Air CEO Captain Simran Singh Tiwana about his career path, the joy of aviation, and his future outlook on domestic travel in India. Tiwana told us he was “born with aviation in my blood,” and has been fascinated with machines that could fly since he was a little boy. He took after his father, who was an Air Force pilot. That passion led him on a civil aviation journey where he earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering before becoming a helicopter pilot.
“My father used to say that aviation takes discipline, a sharp eye for detail, and a strong commitment to safety,” Tiwana commented. Yet, in his 12 years in the field, Tiwana has found another pillar of success in the industry. “I learned customer happiness is also equally important,” he said. “We want our customers to feel that we care.”
Tiwana joined Sanjay Ghodawat Group, a fast-growing conglomerate of companies from high-value business verticals ranging from the development of agriculture to aviation in India. Only a few years after joining as a helicopter pilot, Tiwana was entrusted with starting Star Air. “Setting up an airline and running it smoothly with high customer satisfaction has been my most significant accomplishment,” said Tiwana, reflecting on his career successes to-date. He was honored to be tapped by the Group Chairman, Mr. Sanjay Ghodawat, to execute the aviation vision for the organization.
With Ghodawat’s faith and conviction behind him, Tiwana has led Star Air to become “exceptionally successful in the business and growing fast.”
Despite the challenges that are facing the aviation industry globally, Tiwana is still fascinated by the “joy of flight” and thinks that it is “the most significant invention for mankind.” This fascination fuels his passion for the industry and drives his success. Even in the face of significant obstacles, Tiwana finds new, creative ways of solving the problem. “I think I am good at dividing a big problem into smaller ones and then just work to solve them each day,” he said. “I believe in out-of-the-box thinking and feel there is always an opportunity for business, you’ve just got to do it better or different.”
Today’s challenge is boosting passenger confidence in domestic air travel with comprehensive safety, security, and health measures in place. With doctors, researchers, and other COVID-19 warriors doing their job to develop and distribute a vaccine to bring relief to this global pandemic, Tiwana sees a light at the end of the tunnel. “Travelling is an inevitable part of human life,” he said. “The current situation is a challenge for everyone but with robust safety and security measures in place, we can boost confidence amongst travelers.”
Star Air is taking the steps to do just that. Tiwana told us that the airline has “implemented various safety measures as per the recommendations of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry to help our passengers reach their destinations safely and comfortably.” This includes mandatory web check-in, thermal screening at the airport, sanitization of aircraft, providing face shields, face masks and sanitizers to passengers, and PPE kits for the crew to ensure the safety of passengers.
“With strong support from our technology partners like Collins Aerospace, we are trying to make travel contactless,” Tiwana concluded.
In addition to enabling a contactless passenger journey for customers, Star Air is also transforming passenger processing by moving to a cloud-based system. Star Air now manages reservations, inventory, distribution, and departure control with one integrated system. This solves yet another business issue, reducing both time and costs associated with managing multiple systems.
Adopting and implementing innovative technologies like these are imperative to the efforts around boosting passenger confidence and rebuilding the aviation industry to adapt to the new normal.