“The industry is not customer focused” says Air New Zealand CEO

Recent research reveals that airlines need to pay more attention to customer experience, in order to re-gain a more positive status.

The primary concern for most travellers when boarding their flight is to make it to their destination without too many hiccups along the way. No one wants to experience the obvious safety hazards, or  the crisis of loss luggage, however if all of this can be avoided – it was a successful flight, right? Well, according to the CEO of KLM,  Alexandre de Juniac, flying needs to be so much more than this; ‘The experience of travel is from “home to home.” We need to do better.’

The verdict on airline customer airline experience might come as a shock to those who have witnessed recent developments by first class airlines. Etihad Airways, for example, recently raised the bar of luxury air travel, by launching a design that could almost be mistaken for a first class hotel.

However, top airline executives have argued that only a small minority will be able to experience this type of flight, as Christopher Luxton, CEO, of Air New Zealand explains; ‘The industry is not customer-focused, we’re too fixated on operations. We do have things to mitigate long-haul travel, like our skycouches, but we do have (as an industry) a pretty low innovation rate. Many of the in-flight innovations are of the variety that make headlines and feed into the aspirational nature of flying, such as new first class cabins. But these are a long way from what the majority of fliers will experience.’

Juniac believes that every little detail of the passenger’s experience needs to be addressed in order to improve commercial airline’s image. His views have been ignited by recent research conducted by U.S. PR firm Ketchum which revealed that the public’s positive perception of the airline industry in the US was only just above banking, the government and the tobacco business. Statistics revealed that 42 per cent of people had a negative outlook on airlines.

The question that will now need answering is how exactly will the airline industry do this?

[Picture: Archives New Zealand] 

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