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Customer Satisfaction in Aviation Industry Reaches New Heights

by amit.uniyal 21. May 2014 09:25

It seems that customers aren’t complaining about the airlines - at least, not as much. As per a recent survey conducted in the North American aviation industry by J.D. Power and Associates stated that travelers have never been more satisfied by the airlines they are flying in.

It may be hard to believe but the fact stays that passengers are happier with their respective airline providers despite innumerable charges and fluctuating ticket prices. The survey judged passenger satisfaction level on the basis of in-flight services; costs and fees; reservations; check-in; boarding, flight crew, aircraft, de-boarding and baggage. The survey was conducted on over 11,000 passengers who flew in the North American region in 2013.

1000 point passenger satisfaction attained 712 points

On a scale of 1000-point passenger satisfaction attained 712 points, an increase of 17 points on y-o-y basis. The most interesting finding of the survey was that passengers were happy with the cost and fees levied by the airline. The scores improved to 642 from last year’s 618. As per a market expert, it is not that passengers are happy with the ongoing price rise of airfares and other services, but just that they have accepted this as a reality of air travel making them a little less dissatisfied.

The survey also reflected that customers are satisfied with some parts of their air travel; however uncomfortable seating was their biggest point of concern. They particularly disliked seats with less leg room, elbow space and seats that are not that comfy.

As far as baggage charges were concerned the satisfaction level rose from 37 to 40 percent in 2013. They know that they do not have a way out as far as baggage fees is concerned hence they have accepted this harsh reality.

Seattle based Alaska Airlines topped the satisfaction score with 737 amongst traditional North American carriers, making it seven in a row for the airline. Its scores increased by 20 points as compared to 2012. Delta Air Lines received second highest satisfaction score of 693 points followed by American Airlines (684), Air Canada (683), United Airlines (658) and US Airways (656).

In the low-cost carrier section JetBlue scored the highest with a score of 789. This was its tenth consecutive victory. By topping the survey, it indicated that passengers preferred an airline that offered live TV on flights, creating an important divergence in their overall flying experience. Southwest Airlines came second with 778 points followed by WestJet with 734, Air Tran Airways with 708 and Frontier Airlines with 676 points.

Alaska got another feather in its cap by receiving first rank in the quality and usability of airline frequent flier programs category with 757 points on a 1,000-point scale. Southwest Airlines followed second (731 points) with its Rapid Rewards program. This was followed by JetBlue’s TrueBlue program (707), United Airlines (686), American Airlines (685) and US Airways (642). Loyalty/rewards survey was based on factors including reward program terms; variety of benefits available; ease of redeeming points or miles; customer service; ease of earning points or miles and account maintenance.

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China Southern, other North Asia carriers to add capacity in 2014

by amit.uniyal 13. January 2014 06:37

Most of the carriers in North Asia have announced that they would be operating more flights in Q1 2014. Media reports said that nearly all of the 13 major airlines in North Asia, except Korean Air, would be increasing their flight services in the first quarter of this year as compared to the same period in 2013. However, a majority of the airlines would not increase their seat and available seats per kilometer (ASK) capacity.

Media reports indicated that on average seats would be increased by 3.7 percent and ASKs 3.4 percent complementing 4.5 percent growth in frequencies. The reports said that for some of the airlines the frequency growth would be much faster than seat/ASK growth allowing the aircrafts to tap new short-haul markets.

Media reports said that prominent North Asian carriers like Hong Kong Airlines, China Southern Airlines, EVA Air and TransAsia are on their way to become the largest growth carriers in the region. According to the reports, carriers in Greater China would be introducing more seats and ASK growth above their frequency growth because of the nature of trunk routes and limited slots. Similar growth profile is also being shown by China Airlines and EVA Air. Travel experts in North Asia have indicated that most of the carriers in the region want to close the gap as much possible, while the incumbent carriers are seeking sustainability.

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Capacity increases on domestic flights providing more options

by amit.uniyal 9. January 2014 08:52

With more and more domestic airlines increasing their capacities, the passengers are finding themselves quite a happier lot these days. However, the increased capacities are giving them more choices than before, but the biggest question in the U.S. domestic markets remain whether this will bring lower fares as well.

A recent study quoting a travel expert has said that greater capacity certainly makes the passengers happier with far more travel options than before, but this does not necessarily translate to lower fares. The travel expert at the same time said that even though airfares aren’t low, but the increased capacity isn’t going to hurt the passengers.

The tourism industry’s peak season has now entered into a significant phase and many domestic airlines in the U.S. are giving a boost in the capacity. One such airline is South Florida International which has increased the total number of seats for the key tourism months of January through March this year.

This has also been widely welcomed by the hospitality and tourism industry in the region. The capacity increase is providing passengers opportunity to broaden their choices for vacations, but the fares are not much cheaper. And, this isn’t hurting them in any way. The travel experts said that with greater choices available now the customers are feeling more than happy as they will now be able to spend their vacations in newer destinations. According to travel experts, the new or returning service and bigger aircrafts are playing a major role in the local capacity increase.

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Asia-Pacific region gets seven new green aviation routes

by amit.uniyal 8. January 2014 07:14

The Asia-Pacific region has now got seven new ‘green’ aviation routes. The new routes have been introduced under the Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE) efforts. The IATA has certified the daily routes and validated them as ASPIRE-Daily City Pairs. The routes were certified for reducing environmental impact and using the best practice procedures towards this.

Airways New Zealand, the air navigation services provider based in New Zealand, have developed these routes owing to its international commitment to significantly lower the environmental footprint in the region. The new ‘green’ routes are San Francisco-Auckland, Los Angeles-Auckland, Christchurch-Singapore and Auckland-Singapore. The first ASPIRE-Daily City Pair to be introduced was Auckland-San Francisco in February 2011.
 
Ed Sims, CEO of Airways New Zealand, said that Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines, the two airline partners of Airways New Zealand, played quite an important role in developing these new ‘green’ routes. He said that it is a matter of great privilege and pride that the environmental best practices have been applied on these routes taking into account fuel savings, emissions reduction and air traffic control. Regarding Airways New Zealand, he said that being a founding member of ASPIRE the Airways works in close association with airlines and its other partners to significantly reduce the environmental impact of a flight. He said that the IATA has awarded a four-star rating to five of the seven new city pairs.

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Novel challenges await U.S. carriers from overseas competitors

by amit.uniyal 23. December 2013 07:30

Leading U.S. carriers are now facing a growing and real threat. The challenge is being thrown by carriers based in the Middle East and Asia. This is making the American carriers jittery as they come to terms with the new challenges. America’s leading airlines US Airways and American Airlines, which have merged finally forming the largest airline in the world, are finding it tough and emerge winners in the face of global competition.

Dough Parker, Chief Executive of American Airlines, recently told mediapersons during an interview that the threat is real. The fact cannot be discounted that it’s a global business and there’s pertinent need to compete globally. He said that the two airlines, which have now merged and will now function under American Airlines Group, are fully aware of this fact and simply can’t turn blind eye to any global threat. Parker however said that there should be a level of playing field and his company cannot be asked or pressurized to compete on different terms. Parker said that the major challenge is coming from carriers mostly based in the Middle East, India, Korea, Turkey and elsewhere.

American Airlines Group is not the only one to face the heat. Even another leading carrier Delta Air Lines is finding the going tough. Delta Air Lines is battling it out in an Italian court asking it to rein in new flights between New York and Milan that was launched by Emirates Airline in October this year. Delta Air Lines has even gone to the extent of seeking a stop on billions of dollars lending by a U.S. bank to foreign airlines at below-market rates. One suit has already been dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals, while a federal court in Washington is yet to consider a pending trial.

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New First Class seat, in-flight products pep up Dragonair fliers

by amit.uniyal 19. December 2013 04:15

The travel experience of customers on Dragonair flights is all set to get a boost with brand new First Class seat and a host of in-flight products. Hong Kong-based Dragonair recently announced the launch of its new First Class cabin along with a range of products to offer great on board experience. The announcement of new in-flight products was made at a recently concluded media event, which was addressed by Patrick Yeung, Chief Executive Officer of Dragonair.

Yeung said that airline wanted to provide modern, upgraded amenities to its customers so that they continue to be attracted and satisfied with Dragonair’s performance on the ground as well as in the air. Yeung said that the customers would even be more attracted to fly with Dragonair with a comprehensive cabin upgrades and new in-flight products. He said that Dragonair flights, apart from new First Class seat, will also offer newly designed seats in both Business Class and Economy Class. The new in-flight products include state-of-the-art StudioKA in-flight entertainment system. The airline will be providing full AVOD system in all its classes.

Yeung further said that Dragonair’s in-flight shopping is another attractive feature that has kept the customers attracted and made their onboard experience even better. The airline said that it will be unveiling a new line-up of products in the first quarter of 2014 that would be offered for in-flight shopping. Yeung said that there will be a complete range of above 350 products, with more than 140 new items, to be up for sale during January-March 2014 flights.

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Study says business travel to grow substantially in 2014

by amit.uniyal 18. December 2013 02:23

Here’s glad tiding for the travel and hospitality industries. Business travel has been growing at a frenetic pace and will keep up the positive momentum in 2014 as well. A new study conducted lately this year by a renowned travel magazine ‘Frequent Business Travel’ has outlined that there will be a substantial increase in business travel next year. The effect of this outcome will help in triggering growth in the hospitality and travel industries.

The study made some startling findings. The survey, which was conducted for the 2nd consecutive year, said that nearly 35.7 percent or one-third of business travelers participating in the survey said that in the next year they would love traveling even more than the present year. However, about 47.2 percent or almost half of the participants in the business travel survey said that they would maintain stability and would travel the same amount as they have done this year.
 
The study also covered different aspects related with the business travel and the emerging trends. These include traveler loyalty to hotel chains, frequent flyer membership, hotel loyalty programs, preferences to eat and work, and airline alliances. Nearly 1,323 frequent business travelers participated in the survey. Frequent Business Travel magazine along with FlyerTalk, the largest online travel community in the world, conducted the survey jointly during the last quarter of 2013. The participants in the survey provided some suggestions as well. According to surveyed business travelers, there is a need for hotels and airlines to do even more for a consistent experience for travelers, which is still lacking.

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Study rates worlds top 10 airlines amongst best and worst

by Richa 17. December 2013 04:42

A recent study conducted by a travel firm ‘Which?’ published the latest findings that rated the top 10 airlines in the world as among the best and worst. The airlines that made it to the top 10 ranks in different categories include Qantas Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Emirates Airline, American Airlines, Thomas Cook, Iberia, Qatar Airways and Ryanair, among others. The study has been good for some, while it has been bad for others.

According to the study, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines were tied in first place among the best performers in the world aviation industry. Emirates Airline achieved the third place in the category of the world’s best airlines. However, the findings were not good for Qantas Airways as it was ranked in 10th place. This was however a consolation for Qantas Airways as it has been facing stiff competition on the trans-Tasman sector with a poor showing in the latest customer satisfaction rankings as against its rivals. The airline was ranked 24th among leading airlines flying on long-haul routes on the trans-Tasman sector. In the latest rankings that placed Qantas Airways at the 10th place, the airline received three stars out of five and was voted negative for its seat comfort and legroom offered to its customers.

Among the worst airlines included Manchester-based carrier Thomas Cook and American Airlines. Iberia was also not up to the mark in terms of its performance and was given only one-star rating. The airline received negative vote for its poor food and drink service and customer service. The airlines received the ratings based on 13 criteria, which included customer service, baggage allowances, in-flight entertainment, food and drink, cleanliness, seat comfort, punctuality and value for money.

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Finally American Airlines and US Airways merger on the cards

by Richa 15. November 2013 05:52

American Airlines and US Airways have finally decided to go ahead with their merger plans and the process is back on track. The two airlines have finally agreed to give up slots and gates at seven airports. Media reports recently said that American Airlines and US Airways have arrived at a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice which has now put an end to the need for a court trial. The U.S. Department of Justice was scheduled to hold a court trail over the merger issue starting from November 25, 2013. The deal has now paved way for the creation of an enlarged American Airlines next month.

The U.S. Department of Justice said that under the terms of the agreement the six U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, American Airlines and US Airways will be relinquishing the slots and gates to low-cost airlines. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, this is necessary to enhance system-wide competition in the airline industry that would ultimately provide more choices and more competitive airfares for the customers.

Media reports indicated that American Airlines and US Airways would be giving up 52 slot pairs at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. and 17 pairs at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The two carriers would also hand over two gates at each of Dallas and Love Field, Los Angeles International Airport, Boston Logan Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Miami International Airport.

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Tags: american airlines, merger, u.s. department of justice, us airways

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New direct flight options soon for British travelers to China

by Richa 8. November 2013 04:16

Britain and China are expected to begin new talks early next year on increasing air connectivity between the two countries. This follows a recent visit by the British Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to Beijing. Both the countries had signed an agreement in 2004 limiting the carriers of the two countries to operate a total of 31 return services every week between six destinations in both the UK and China.

For British travelers the existing nonstop options include flights to Hong Kong with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Cathay Pacific Airways; flights to Beijing from London Heathrow with Air China, British Airways or Virgin Atlantic Airways; flights to Shanghai with British Airways and China Eastern Airlines; and flights to Chengdu from London Heathrow. China Southern Airlines also flies to Guangzhou from London Heathrow.

McLoughlin said that a new agreement is now needed reflecting the changing times that the world is undergoing today. He said that the new bilateral agreement would be looking to increase the number of flights and destinations between the two countries that would benefit the tourists and businesses in both China and Britain. He further stated that business travelers from Britain are already traveling to these growth economies, but presently they are doing so via other hubs and connecting routes.

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