Great airplanes do not make a great airline brand

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

22 March 2011

Why can’t airlines make improvement like Boeing does?

This past weekend, Boeing successfully performed a test flight of its 747-8 Intercontinental. Being someone who spends much of their time using air travel for transportation, I have to wonder why is it that airplanes seem to progressively get more and more advanced, and each airline brand follows an exponential slope in the other direction.

The Boeing 747-8I offers airlines the lowest operating costs and best economics while also catering to increased environmental performance. When quantified, these adjustments equate to 16 percent better fuel economy, 12 percent lower costs, 16 percent less carbon emissions per passenger, and noise reduction of 30 percent over the 747-400.

“If only the airlines’ business-to-consumer models could learn a bit from the manufacturers’ business-to-business models.”

airline brand

I shift my attention to each airline brand, with all taking steps in the opposite direction and refusing to make any improvements whatsoever. We now have to pay to check a bag, we have to fly airlines that constantly overbooks their flights, never taxis out on time, and from personal experience charge more to take a flight that leaves from Charlotte than one that departs from Greensboro and connects through Charlotte.

If only the airlines’ business-to-consumer models could learn a bit from the manufacturers’ business-to-business models.

Brand is a fragile thing. Attempting to resurrect a brand is much more difficult then launching one. In the case of each airline brand, they all went the route of making price their differentiator and this has inevitably led to a market where price is the only qualifier for the consumer and no one single carrier has created preference through it. Even Southwest, which positions itself against bag fees, doesn’t deliver an emotional message of why as a consumer you should identify with a company that takes that position, they always make it about a dollars and cents saved proposition.

Brand has the power to transcend table stakes likes price. If the airlines do not change their focus they will continue to flounder and the quality and craftsmanship of the aircraft will matter little.

See more posts in the following related categories: 747-8I airline brand Boeing Delta Southwest Airlines United Airlines US Airways

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