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The Silver Lining in The Clouds

Zurien Onn

Travellers can look forward to promotional offers as airlines endeavour to maintain relationships with consumers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely shaken the world, affecting businesses and the global economy. The aviation industry has taken the brunt of it as one of the most affected industries. This forced the airlines to ground the majority of their fleets and even some having to cease their operations entirely.

Airlines are looking at filling in planes any way they can by maintaining relationships with passengers despite travel bans and this may spell good deals for travellers.The aviation analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers, Mark Simpson said in the Wall Street Journal that, “Carriers’ priority has been to drop prices low enough to fill the few planes they are still flying to a level at which they can simply break even.”

Hence, for those who can’t wait to travel abroad again, it pays to follow regular updates by airlines for promotional prices on flights.

Benefits for Passengers

Many airlines have been offering discounted promotional tickets to offset losses incurred due to low passengers numbers. In Asia, low-budget carrier AirAsia had offered “Unlimited Passes” for about USD100 each, allowing travellers to go anywhere that its Thai and Malaysian operations fly to. It has been reported that more than 200,000 passes were snapped up during the promotion period, no doubt helping contribute substantially to AirAsia’s bottom line in 2020.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the continent’s biggest carrier, Ryanair, offered 2-for-1 deals on flight seats and sold off 1 million seats for EUR5 each (about USD5.80) - prices low enough to entice travellers into flying with them during these uncertain times. Interestingly, over in North America, Alaska Air offers a uniquely-decided discount on days when professional football team, Seattle Seahawks are playing in Seattle city, where the airline is based: ticket prices can be discounted up to 40% off based on the number of touchdowns made by their star player Russell Wilson! It’s unconventional but that’s certainly one way to tie consumer emotions to the airline brand.

Ryanair and other airlines are currently offering low ticket prices to encourage travellers to fly with them. (Photo: Facebook @Ryanair)
Building Relationships

For airlines that have temporarily paused flights on some routes, there is a need to keep customers engaged and loyal while waiting for the situation to improve.

To maintain an active relationship with their consumers, Singapore Airlines (SIA) organised the Restaurant A380 @ Changi campaign where they served customers with fine-dining meals aboard their grounded aircraft. The two-day pop-up event was wildly successful that it was extended with additional dinner sessions as well. Meanwhile, their mobile app has been redesigned to enhance the customer experience to be seamless and more personalised. Logging into the app takes customers straight to issues that may be of concern during these times, including COVID-19 restrictions and flight credits for postponed flights. As consumers, this attention to passengers’ immediate concerns shows empathy on SIA’s part, and is likely to increase loyalty to the brand.

Singapore Airlines’ redesigned app immediately addresses passengers most pressing concerns without the need to be searched or prompted.
Redesigning The Flying Experience For Leisure Travellers

Many airlines, especially full-service ones, have depended on business travellers and corporate accounts to bring in the profits. However, now that the global population has become more accustomed to working from home and holding online meetings, business-related travel has decreased significantly. A study by marketing research firm Idea Works determined that while business trips may still be essential for many companies, it won’t be as often as before the pandemic. Thus, it may be prudent for airlines to tailor their services and passenger experience for leisure, rather than corporate travellers.

For lower cost airlines, the infrastructure may already be in place as their targeting has always been towards passengers on holiday. However, when full-service airlines pivot towards courting leisure travellers with their more up-scale facilities, this might prove irresistible for passengers when prices are brought down to be closer to the low-cost carrier ballpark. This could spell a pricing war across airline segments, but at least in the near future, it seems that the scenario will favour travellers who can expect lower prices, better service and attractive incentives from airlines vying for their share of passengers post-COVID.

Travellers might soon enjoy flying on full-service airlines with low-budget prices. (Photo: Facebook @Malaysia Airlines)

For travellers who can’t wait to travel overseas again and already have plans in place, it pays to snap up promotions offered by the airlines. With validity dates that go as far as one year ahead, purchasing low-priced tickets now will be a win-win situation for many parties including the passenger, the airlines and even the community as travel activities help boost the economy and pave the way for a quicker recovery.

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