Posts from the ‘Alliances’ Category
July 19th, 2013
A senior executive at one of SkyTeam’s member carriers expressed admiration for these new, smaller partnerships. “Alliances are a thing of the past,” he told me. “It’s a bad solution to a problem which is basically about to disappear: that consolidation is impossible. The barriers [to consolidation] are going to fall sooner or later.” He added that, out of the three main alliances, Star has made the most progress towards unlocking merger-style benefits, for example by cutting costs through shared procurement. But such advances still fall short of true consolidation. “What Etihad is doing: hats off to them,” he concluded. “It’s a much better way.”
This one paragraph sums up the true worth of alliances in 2013.
It’s not simply just about partnering under a single brand — but also the ability to maximise the relationship through the generation of scaling economies, whether it be (shared) cost reductions or maximising process efficiencies between the involved carriers.
Etihad’s efforts, specifically in forming partnerships with selective carriers, could probably be called “the renewed way” of achieving the aforementioned. Theoretically, the direction of all the carriers involved should be in unity. But with more members gained, the scenario becomes increasingly similar to how it is with the current airline alliances — give or take.
February 19th, 2013
“oneworld is the best alliance for on-time flights. Its members collectively maintained a more punctual operation in 2012 than their counterparts in the other global airline groups, according to the independent FlightStats organisation, which today presented oneworld with Airline Alliance On-Time Performance Award for 2012 – which is believed to be the first time a punctuality award has been presented to any global airline alliance…”
So what took them so long in bringing out an award for on-time-performance?
Disclaimer: Just like any “independent” organisation handing out awards, your mileage may vary.
February 13th, 2013
“Finnair will install new full flat seats in most of its existing long haul aircraft beginning in January 2014. Once the installation program is completed by autumn 2014, all of Finnair’s long haul Airbus fleet will have full flat seats in Business Class, with the exception of three older aircraft. These three aircraft will be the first to be removed from the fleet with the arrival of A350 XWBs in 2015. The total investment, including replacement investments, is approximately 29 million [E]uros.”
Those Zodiac seats are currently on four of Finnair’s newest Airbus A330s, which is something — but not as broadly available as their flyers would expect.
Some brief specifics:
“The seats are designed to provide a fully-flat bed of up to 200 cm (79”), while shoulder room measures 58 cm (23”). The fully adjustable seats also come with an individual reading light, adjustable head rest, mood lights and a range of inflight entertainment options.”
This announcement can only be good news, especially for an airline that now flies to a broad list of destinations throughout not just Europe, but also North America and (especially) throughout Asia — with the latter having somewhat-higher expectations come passenger experience (i.e. both hard and soft product).
I’ve been to Helsinki Airport, being Finnair’s home base, and do agree that it is a preferable European gateway of choice — compared to the likes of Frankfurt, London-Heathrow, and Paris Charles-de-Gaulle (*ugh!*).
The next couple of years will be an interesting ride for Finnair, especially with the introduction of the Airbus A350 into their fleet. Being the first European operator of this new aircraft type, this should give the airline a unique upside in the area of #PaxEx.
May 8th, 2012
The experience of flying can be absolutely fun for some, while others will dread it with a passion!
Scandinavian-based airline, Finnair, with its continual efforts to improve the overall passenger experience, have led to the creation of ‘Service Angels’ — a group of young and passionate individuals, hand-picked from a list of hundreds of applicants, assigned with the grand (but seemingly simple) task of assisting passengers in need.
A brief description of what’s involved, straight from the Finnair Blog, by Ilmari Salminen, one of the original Service Angels:
“A typical day of the angels included guiding passengers to the right places, helping with the check-in machines, advising where to find different places at the airport, guiding passengers with connecting flights efficiently to their next flight, handing out sweets to cheer people up and, in special cases, ice cream coupons and compensation vouchers, if everything had not gone perfectly sometimes, namely, due to delays or other issues.”
“Right, it’s all about helping those needy passengers. Sounds simple enough.”
Considering how there were only twelve service angels at Helsinki Airport (Helsinki-Vantaa, or HEL) at the beginning of summer last year, these still-green-but-ready-to-serve airport guides were to cover the airport terminals — both air- and land-side — along with all the necessities to make it all work:
“With scooters, the angels were nearly flying through the airport, where the distance from one end to the other is two kilometres. Naturally, their equipment included an angel mobile and a crystal ball for telling the future, that is, a tablet PC, which enabled them to search for information as well as passengers’ email reservation confirmations. The Angel mobile rang often, as urgent errands arose, including, for example, looking for certain people on the plane or taking boarding passes to departure gates.”
Not even some of the best airports around, like HKIA (Hong Kong) or Singapore’s Changi Airport, come close in offering a similar level of personal attention and care. Granted that HKG and SIN are very well-equipped, and have selected people employed to deal with certain problems and issues. Yet, that’s very different to the situation which Finnair is addressing with head-on.
Oh, did I mention that the Service Angels help everyone — and not just those travelling on Finnair metal?
In the very beginning, patrons at Helsinki Airport were unaccustomed to their presence:
“The angels could feel the first gazes of people at the airport when the escalators finally reached the top. These gazes revealed that the vision was out of the ordinary: who were these youngsters? Tourists? Freaks dressed as Finnair fans? Or did they really work in this place?”
But it didn’t take long for the Angels’ presence to become truly appreciated, and not just by those in need:
“Passengers liked the title Service Angel and thought it was different. Often, the angels were asked to help by calling out “Hey angel, can you help us”, or someone asked them to be their own personal angel, with a twinkle in their eye.”
For each of the Service Angels, every day was a unique experience. This is what true customer service is all about, especially in an environment like Helsinki-Vantaa, which is also Finnair’s home base and hub, where countless dynamics fuel all kinds of unimaginable possibilities:
“Passengers learned fairly quickly that the young guides were available. And it was not particularly exceptional that one angel received many questions and requests for help at the same time from many different directions. Sometimes it was difficult to divide oneself into so many parts, but generally, by dealing with the passengers’ problems one at a time, these situations could be handled well.”
I would’ve found it most inspiring to simply observe just how it all works out on the different days, and in the various scenarios presented.
Spanning their wings in Berlin and Düsseldorf
After that three-month stint in Helsinki-Vantaa last year, Finnair has casted its Service Angels to Deutschland where they served at Berlin-Tegel (during the first two weeks of April) and Düsseldorf airports (throughout the month of May).
Because both Berlin-Tegel and Düsseldorf are not exactly Finnair territory (back in Finland, Finnair obviously had an agreement with Helsinki-Vantaa to make this work, as the exercise covered the entire airport), the Angels in Germany needed to make do with a much smaller area to work with, plus the limited time made available to them on a daily basis.
Having said that, expect nothing less from these new Angels, as they will be following closely in the footsteps of their predecessors (Finnair noted that the original service concept remains, sans environmental restrictions at the different foreign airports).
Finally, tales of the Angels’ helpings are already coming in:
“One of the most memorable experiences of the Berlin Angels was when a little boy was crying inconsolably as his parents checked their bags in to reach their destination. An Angel took a Finnair play set from her bag and gave it to the boy, whose tears were quickly replaced with a smile.”
Once again, “the Angels are there to help”, whatever the situation may be.
The future for The Angels
I’ve managed to get in touch with our friends at Finnair, and got hold of Noora Verronen (Planner, Marketing Communications at Finnair) to share some of her thoughts on the Service Angel project as a whole:
“The Service Angels project has been really fun and has generated a lot of positive feedback from our customers. It’s actually a great manifestation of our service design and customer promise of delivering “Peace of mind”. The Service Angels they are there to provide assistance with just about anything and they are also there to create a good, relaxed spirit among passengers. Small deeds of kindness, that’s what angels do. That is our way of delivering peace of mind to not only our customers but anyone who’s in touch with the service angels (and thus the Finnair brand).”
Noora also raised the possibility that the Airline already have plans to send the Angels to other airports, with those locations currently still under wraps.
Kudos to Finnair for making the typical traveller’s passenger experience a far-less-strenuous one. While we may all wish for them to be there for the entirety of our journeys, starting off with a positive outlook — at the airport — can do wonders to our state of mind (and emotions) for what’s to come.