Come Fly With Us . . . If You Are Allowed

We are now in the middle of winter, start of January 2021. Along with many other industries, businesses and markets the Coronavirus pandemic has affected the air travel sector gravely. Successively, the shutdown of the flying segment dispersed many undesirable effects onto other domains like hospitality, retail, transport and tourism touching them mercilessly with devastating effects.

In a way, circumstances are slightly different over the past few weeks with the availability of vaccinations. With this in mind, aviation is now in a resurrection mode about to restart the ‘conveyor’. Nevertheless, after so much vagueness how can we persuade passengers to fly again.  In my opinion, airlines must focus their energy on two marketing challenges. First, airlines (although airports must play a proactive role too) have to regain people’s trust and to convince them about safety standards and accessibility. Second, operators must adopt courageous and attractive ticketing strategies.

As industry observer, I suggest that in the current socio-economic conditions it is important to induce consumers with striking deals and prices. Otherwise, I suspect that unless companies make interesting offers to travellers, the anticipated slow recovery could become a long-drawn affair!

Crucially, Airport Bureau supports those firms and organizations who challenge the UK Treasury’s recent proclamation to end VAT rebates for international visitors (BBC NEWS, 20 September 2020, bbc.co.uk/news/business-54228889).  This plan could have a detrimental impact on air travel during the recovery phase, affecting retailers and disadvantages UK airports and many consumer groups.

Over the past few months, we encountered high-ticket prices vindicated by airlines in the name of the “pandemic”. Supposedly, we want to entice consumers to fly again then tactics like overcharging have to revert immediately. At the same time, the industry has to be careful on the approach to kick-start operations and to bring passengers back on flights. Antagonistic talk and hostile rhetoric such as this by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce on his interview to SBS News (24/11/2020) “… asking people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft” could possibly backfire in terms of using a stimulus to influence passenger choice. For now, aviation must appear as safe, attractive, competitive and inexpensive for people to consider a prompt return to air transport.    

The air travel sector more than ever before must regard passengers as the most valuable asset. During this difficult era operators should ‘go out of their way’ to motivate and inspire people to travel. Return business and loyalty are features earned with tremendous effort and excellence in quality of service. Airlines, airports, retailers, travel companies must work ingeniously together to lure passengers back quickly.

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