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Cebu Pacific taps into Hong Kong monsoon season to promote flights to the Philippines

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This case appears in the June 2014 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and SimpliFlying, which identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

The effectiveness of outdoor advertising is often a result of its originality. Europe’s third largest low-cost carrier Norwegian, for example, has built a reputation when it comes to launching innovative campaigns to persuade Scandinavians to book a flight to a southern, more sunny, destination in Europe.

Earlier this year, the airline asked commuters at Oslo’s central train station to have their picture taken and get their skin tone saturation measured digitally. The contestants’ images then were directly uploaded onto a giant screen, where the audience could follow who was the palest person in the league. The three palest contestants won a trip to sunny Gran Canaria.

On a similar note, last year Norwegian installed a rain gauge on bus shelters that recorded how much rain fell in the city to push people to get out of the country (video here), while in 2011 as part of its ‘Internet Sun Generator campaign’, Norwegian tracked down negative winter-related expressions on Facebook, Twitter and blogs, and converted this information into a digital formula that controlled a big artificial sun places placed in front of Oslo’s central railway station. The more negative the conversation about the winter-darkness, the stronger the sun would shine.

Cebu Pacific
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, which receives just 100 hours of sunshine during its summer monsoon season, Cebu Pacific – the largest low-cost carrier of the Philippines – used the wet weather as an integral part of a campaign to drive bookings to a much sunnier Philippines.

The clever campaign used water repellent spray was used to draw ads onto the ground in high traffic areas throughout the city, making them invisible until wet weather hits, when water droplets roll off the sprayed surface, revealing a brief tagline, “It’s Sunny in the Philippines.” Read full article

India’s low-cost carriers get creative with their buy-on-board food packaging

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Along with basic objectives such as protection, preservation and convenience, attractive and fun packaging appeals to consumers’ emotions and brings a product alive, while clever packaging can also convince consumers to try something new just because of the way it looks.

As airlines are starting to approach the passenger experience in a more holistic way, they are also starting to pay attention to details such as the packaging of meals and drinks as an extension of their brand.

Or as Travel + Leisure magazine put it recently: “From hyper-local delicacies to iconic sweets, the best in-flight snacks deliver a sense of place, express an airline’s personality—and make a tasty souvenir.”

Adds Nikos Loukas of airline food website InflightFeed, “Airline food packaging needs to be fun and engage the customer during the meal service, it gives them something to think about but can also work as inflight entertainment.”

Two great examples of attractive and fun food packaging can be found in India, where low-cost carriers JetKonnect and IndiGo have come up with quirky buy-on-board ranges.

JetKonnect
Mumbai-based JetKonnect, the low-cost subsidiairy of Jet Airways, has hired local ad agency Grandmother to make plane food something passengers might actually want to eat, via fun packaging that features Indian touches.

Each item on the buy-on-board menu tells a different story of the ‘love’ for food. For example, the packaging of the savoury pastry samosas is the tale of ‘Sam’ meeting ‘Hosa’, while a tin of nuts features ‘Dr. Nutman.’ The cookie packet is an ode to a robber, and features the words ‘chor-police’ (robber-cop in Hindi). Stories featuring each of the characters are printed on the colorful packets.

According to Grandmother, JetKonnect approached the agency to reinvent its entire line of on-board perishable and non-perishable products. Since the packaging system involved multiple products in different materials, the agency invented a story that would tie all products into one umbrella story that would engage, educate and inform, all the while making food fun and and enjoyable.

Or as Grandmother puts it: “Value is being surprised and delighted when you least expect it. Why should packaging be static? Why can’t it be a story in itself? Can it make someone read before grabbing a bite?”
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Japan’s Skymark goes Premium Economy-only on new A330s

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Hybrid low-cost carrier Skymark - Japan’s third largest airline – turned heads in early 2011 when it announced an order for six A380 superjumbo’s which will feature only 394 seats in a premium two-class configuration: 114 angled lie-flat Business seatss on the upper deck and 280 ‘shell-style’ Premium Economy seats on the lower deck. Skymark will take delivery of its first A380 in August 2014 and plans to fly between Tokyo and New York as the first destination, possibly followed by London and Frankfurt.

Premium Economy-only A330
As part of Skymark’s ambitious expansion plan, the Tokyo Haneda-based airline also executed leases for seven A330-300 aircraft in July 2012, with delivery scheduled from early 2014 through 2015.

Skymark’s new A330s are outfitted in a 271-seat single-class Premium Economyy configuration with a 38-inch seat pitch and 19.3-inch seat width, called ‘Green Seats’ (after the more spacious seats offered in the ‘Green Car’ on Japan’s high-speed rail), which are comparable to the domestic ‘Class J’ product of Japan Airlines.

Skymark will deploy its Premium Economy-only A330 widebodies on key domestic trunk routes from Tokyo to Fukuoka and Sapporo to win market share among business travellers. The first route is due to be Tokyo Haneda-Fukuoka at the end of March 2014, which is Skymark’s busiest route based on available seats, and Japan’s second and the world’s third busiest air route.

Cabin interior
In mid-December, Skymark reveiled its new A330-300 interior at Airbus in Toulouse and we caught up with Daniel Baron, founder of  Tokyo-based design agency LIFT Strategic Design who have been responsible for cabin styling and seat trim and finish, consulting on layout, seats and galleys. LIFT Design is also working with Skymark on the A380 cabin and seat design.

Skymark’s all-Premium Economy product features a 2 x 3 x 2 seating arrangement (compared with a regular 2 x 4 x 2 configuration for Economy on the A330). Each seat has 38 inches of legroom, which is long-haul standard for premium economy, and the 271 seats also feature leg rests – not just the front row like Cathay Pacific offers – meaning passenger’s legs are supported for the few hours they are onboard. There will be no inflight entertainment, but the airline says it is looking into inflight connectivity.

The cabin has been designed to represent a “casual urban cafe with the embracing freshness of a forest in Spring”. Whilst we can’t fully understand what that is supposed to impart, the finished product is airy, refreshing and light. A light fresh green is predominant here, matched with neutral putty finishes, providing a calm and serene environment. We like the trims of birch wooden veneer, found on the on the seat tables and golden walnut veneer in the lavatory flooring.
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JetBlue’s new transcontinental A321s to feature private suites and a ‘snack station’

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

In order to attract premium yields from business travelers, competition on transcontinental routes between New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco is fierce with all major national carriers on the route trying to find their point of difference and fight for the heavy traffic between the three hubs.

New York-based JetBlue is also joining this transcontinental ‘arms race’ with dedicated sub-fleet of 11 brand new A321s. After a sneak peek of the airline’s new A321 cabin a few weeks back when they launched a first video, the airline has shared more details of its new transcontinental premium product, called Mint.

Starting at a mind-bending USD499 one way, JetBlue has managed to surpass our expectations yet again with the fare being yet another reason to fly with the airline. Said JetBlue Chief Executive Dave Barger in a statement: “Mint is stylish service minus all of the stuffiness often associated with the traditional front-of-the-cabin experience. JetBlue is truly all about serving the underserved, the customer who wants to enjoy first-rate service at an exceptional and affordable fare.”

The Mint seat
JetBlue has invested in both Business and Economy, with the coach section featuring slim-line seats, larger touch-screen TVs, as well as an extra legroom section. The big showpiece though is the ‘Mint’ Business Class product, a first for what is fundamentally a low-cost carrier. The Mint cabin features 16 fully lie-flat beds up to 6′ 8″ (203cm) long with rows 1 and 3 featuring a 2 x 2 seating and rows 2 and 4 having a more private 1 x 1 seating configuration with closing doors.

The private sliding door idea is a nice little touch, especially on the single solitary seats as it makes the 2nd and 4th rows much more appealing and sort after as a solitary traveller, although we feel the sliding doors are more a sales gimmick that practical elements a traveller really actually requires on a 5-6 hour flight.
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JetBlue unveils new ‘transcontinental’ A321 interior featuring private suites

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

JetBlue, New York’s ‘homegrown airline’ has released on their video channel a sneak peek of what we can expect on their new fleet of A321′s coming out in 2014, which will be flying the transcontinental East Coast – West Coast flights, competing with the likes of American, United, Delta and Virgin America who have all lifted the quality of product for the 5 to 6 hour trek.

The airline has invested in both business and economy, featuring slim-line seats, with larger touch-screen TVs, and still maintaining their extra legroom seating. Whilst this is just an artists impression (more images here), the detail seems fairly accurate, and we can see the headrests will be fairly slim too. Perhaps lowering the comfort of their seats, they can up-sell their amenity packages of pillows and blankets.

The big showpiece here though is the new Business Class product. A first for what is fundamentally a low-cost carrier. 16 private suites in 4 rows, rows 1 and 3 featuring a 2 x 2 seating and rows 2 and 4 having a more private 1 x 1 seating configuration. The Thomson Vantage full flat seats are a similar product to that seen on international carriers such as Delta and Brussels Airlines.

The private sliding door idea is a nice little touch, especially on the single solitary seats, however, on the dual seats, you lose out on this feature. Making the 2nd and 4th rows much more appealing and sort after as a solitary traveller. We feel the sliding doors are more a sales gimmick that practical elements a traveller really actually requires on a 5-6 hour flight. The inconsistency of the product in business class may also work against the carrier, as someone who flies in the private suite and then is only offered a regular business class seat may decide to decline the purchase and move to a differing carrier. Only time will tell…

IndiGo lets passengers taste and vote for their favourite buy-on-board sandwich

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In just a few years, low-cost carrier IndiGo has become India’s largest domestic carrier by securing nearly 30 percent of the local market.

IndiGo’s popularity with Indian passengers is based on its ‘no-frills chic’ approach towards flying. According to IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh, the airline’s philosophy is “to make travel as hassle-free as possible — low-cost but high quality — and that’s why we are popular both with budget travellers and high-level corporations.”

IndiGo has worked with agency Wieden + Kennedy building a new, cool airline brand from scratch. Besides quirky advertising, everything from the design of the safety instruction card and sickness bag, to the availability of a boarding ramp instead of a staircase, to the packaging of in-flight snacks were aimed at being more engaging. For example, IndiGo’s triangular paid-for ‘Airwich’ boxes feature interesting stories and fun illustrations to offer passengers something to read when having their meal

IndiGo ‘Food Fight’
In another innovative effort to promote its buy-on-board offering, IndiGo and Wieden + Kennedy in late 2012 organized a food tasting in the sky, dubbed #IndiGoFoodFight.

Held on a single day on IndiGo flights across major routes, over 1,000 passengers were surprised with boxes of free food samples containing the contenders for the airline’s new buy-on-board menu. Passengers were asked to vote for their favourite, with the winner making it on-board as the “Passenger’s Choice.”

Or as the airline putsit more dramatically: “It’s the ultimate showdown at 35,000 feet. From the feather-weight division we have Lemon Chicken Sub vs Curried Chicken Sub vs Chicken Jhatka. And in the veggie-weights, introducing Veg Junglee vs Tomato-hummus vs Paneer-mushroom. May the best sandwich win!”

The Veg Junglee Sandwich and Curried Chicken Sub turned out to be the clear favourites among passengers and are now featured on the IndiGo menu. A video of the event can be found here and images here.

Indonesion low-cost carrier Lion Air launches full-service airline

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

At a time that Asia’s full-service carriers are busy launching low-cost affiliates, the region’s second-largest budget carrier, Indonesia’s Lion Air, is moving in the opposite direction by launching full-service airline Batik Air. Now that Batik Air has been flying for a few weeks, we thought it best to take some time to take a look at this new carrier and what you can expect.

The inside
Firstly, let’s talk interiors. The whole premise of the airline is to fly passengers around the Asia region with a full service offering and even a Business Class cabin with reclining regional ‘First Class’ style seats.

First impressions of the 737-900 cabin are great, neutral colours with a few bright splashes in the form of curtains help provide a smart and contemporary look. The neutral grey patterned carpets are a great choice, hiding a multitude of sins as they get worn in. The leather seating looks great in these images, but time will tell if they start to stretch and buckle with their use. The patterns on the bulkheads and dividers are great too.

This is a big jump from a low-cost’s roots and what you expect to see from a full service carrier. Where bright bold and strong colours are used to stimulate their passengers, therefore keeping them more awake, and in need of beverages, food and entertainment. This helps generate sales. Whereas premium carriers naturally use softer more relaxing colours to try and calm and relax passengers, where they don’t require so much attention, therefore drinking and eating less, thus increasing profits.

The airline offers touchscreen IFE in every seat, Economy class features 32″ seat pitch and the Business class seats offer 45″. The Sky Interior option for Boeing as well will help the cabin seem more spacious and modern. Being a full service carrier all food and drink is included  in the price.
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Japanese LCC Peach lets passengers download free IFE content at the airport

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Airlines around the world are responding to the explosion in passenger use of smartphones, notebooks, tablets and e-readers by introducing onboard Wi-Fi and/or wireless inflight entertainment systems. The result is the emergence of an alternative eco-system to today’s traditional seatback-based IFE systems, which sees tech-savvy passengers bring their own digital devices – or airlines providing them with tablets.

However, the idea behind new IFE offerings such as wireless IFE remains the same. That is passengers are able to access entertainment content only when up in the air (although passengers who purchased movies and TV shows through wireless IFE providers such as Gogo Connect and Lufthansa’s BoardConnect can continue to view the content when they have landed – for 24 (movies) and 72 hours (TV shows) respectively.

Airport downloads
Airport News Japan now reports that Japanese low-cost carrier Peach, a joint venture between All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Hong Kong-based First Eastern Investment Group, has come up with another innovative twist on in-flight entertainment.

With support from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, Peach passengers will soon be able to download movies, TV shows, music, magazines, games or other content to their personal devices through the airport terminal’s Wi-Fi network, which they can enjoy without limitation while in the airport or on their flight.

The service is called ‘high!’ entertainment and is available on domestic flights departing from Kansai Airport’s Terminal 2, which has been specially build to accommodate low-cost carriers.

There will be around 30 titles available during the initial trial period and the new service will be fully up and running in June, when it will offer over 1,000 titles comprising free and pay-to-download content. To access the ‘high!” inflight entertainment content, passengers have to download an Apple iOS or Google Android app (pending for approval at the moment). Compatibility with Windows 8 is planned for a later date.
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New low-cost, high-speed rail service launches in France

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In an effort to boost ridership on its high-speed rail system, French national rail operator SNCF has launched the world’s first low cost high speed rail travel. Called Ouigo (as in “We Go”),  the new cheap, no-frills train service for France will offer ticket prices from just EUR 10, significantly cheaper than tickets for the normal TGV train.

Ouigo is an independently run subsidiary of SNCF and will operate its own trains, modified double-decker TGV Duplex trains, the same trains as SNCF’s regular TGV service. The new service will start running between the outskirts of Paris and the south of France (Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier) in April this year. Three or four return journeys will operate every day.

Low-cost carriers
To allow for such cheap fares, Ouigo shares similarities to no-frills carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet. Trains depart from Marne-la-Vallée (where Euro Disney is located) to the east of the French capital – almost 20 miles away from central Paris, a scenario reminiscent of the budget airlines’ strategy to use airports away from city centres. Ouigo trains will have no premium section, no food or drink service and less free leg space in order to accommodate 1,200 passengers, 20 percent more than a normal TGV service. Tickets can only be bought on-line, not from ticket machines or ticket counters.

It also means adding fees. Passengers can bring only one small bag (about the size of an airplane carry-on) and a purse or backpack. If a traveler waits until boarding time to pay for an extra bag, there’s a EUR40 charge. If done ahead of time, the cost is only EUR5. Seating in a car with outlets costs an extra EUR2; getting information about a reservation via the phone requires another EUR1. Reservations can be changed for EUR10 (EUR20 if done on the phone), but not fully reimbursed.

Each year 400,000 seats will go on sale at just EUR10 with a further one million costing just EUR25. Prices will rise depending on demand until they reach a maximum price of EUR85.

According to calculations published in French newspaper Le Figaro, the average price for a Friday journey from Paris to Marseille booked three months in advance costs EUR72 on the TGV, EUR50 on Air France, EUR34 on Ryanair, and EUR25 on Ouigo.
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New hotel that mirrors plane and airport interior to be launched by Vueling

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By Louise Driscoll, Terminal U

These days you can find a themed hotel to suit any interest – from stylist fashion hotels to Vegas’s mega-resorts that pay homage to world cities.

We’ve seen plane-themed hotels before, but now a budget airline plans to take the idea further by opening hotels based around the flight experience.

Spanish airline Vueling is working with hotel chain Hoteles Catalonia (HC) to open its first themed hotel in downtown Barcelona next year.

But instead of showcasing a few plane models in the lobby for novelty value, the hotel will make guests feel that they’ve just boarded a Vueling flight. Artist impressions of the hotel show a reception area that will recreate an airport check-in counter and a bar-restaurant inside a mock aircraft cabin.

The themed experience doesn’t stop there. A breakfast area will be made to look like it’s inside an airport terminal, with overhead information screens.

Vueling’s yellow and grey brand colours will also play a big part in branding the experience, from the seat back covers in the restaurant area to the throws on the guest beds. The airline even plans to name each room after the destinations it serves.

But Vueling will leave its partner, Hoteles Catalonia (HC) to operate and manage the hotel chain, under the “Vueling by HC” brand. The first hotel, ‘Vueling BCN by HC’ is expected to open in March 2013. (BCN stands for Barcelona airport). More hotels openings are planned in destinations that Vueling serves, the hotel chain said.

Long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X to offer kids-free ‘Quiet Zone’ onboard

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Two recent surveys conducted by TripAdvisor found that 40 percent of U.S. travellers said they would pay extra to sit in a designated quiet section of the plane, while nearly 80 percent of Britons agreed there should be child-free zones on board, and a third of of respondents would pay more for their flight if there were no children on board.

Quiet Zone
Following a controversial decision by Malaysia Airlines to introduce a ‘child-free cabin’ on the upper deck of its new A380 superjumbo (Business and Economy), Malaysia-based long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X has announced it will be launching a so-called ‘Quiet Zone’ on its fleet of Airbus A330s.

Starting in February 2013, the airline will create a “Quiet Zone” in the front section of its widebody aircraft, located between the airline’s Premium Class section and the front galley. Children younger than 12 years old will not be able to book seats in the Quiet Zone, and passengers opting for the zone will be asked to keep noise to a minimum, while there will also be special ambient lighting in the cabin. Passenger will also be among the first to disembark.

The dedicated zone will consist of the first eight rows of the Economy section (rows 7 to 14), and  as the front area already houses the airline’s Premium Class, turning this part of the aircraft into a Quiet Zone will also be appreciated by AirAsia X’s premium passengers.
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Low-cost carrier Volaris offers free tickets to Mexicans who have never flown before

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Despite the fiscal woes in Europe and the recession that is taking place in a large part of the developed world, a new middle class is emerging in rapidly developing economies such as the so-called BRICs and The Next-11. These countries are enjoying significant economic growth, which is resulting in the creation of a middle class who are ‘trading up’ from long-distance buses to travelling by air, often flying for the first time in their life.

Brazil, Kenya
We have reported before how an airline like TAM is targetting the rapidly growing middle class in Brazil in innovative ways, for example by selling tickets via kiosks at low-end retail chains and subway stations. The airline also allows customers to pay their ticket in multiple installments and provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time flyers. Meanwhile in East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have teamed up with mobile payment services like M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets via their mobile phone.

Mexico
To demonstrate that air travel is no longer out of reach for the masses, Mexican low-cost airline Volaris in 2011 joined efforts with EnElAire – a Mexican aviation website and radio program – to realize the dream of 15 people with a passion for flying but who had never taken a flight before.

After asking the general public via radio and various social media, “Do you know anyone who dreams of flying on an airplane yet hasn’t been able to do so?,” Volaris and EnElAire received dozens of stories submitted by people nominating friends or family members to participate in the contest.
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Southwest gives its 737 interiors a ‘green’ makeover

Southwest Airlines in October 2009 turned a B737-700 into a ‘beta-plane’ to test a series of sustainable interior materials, such as environmental-friendly leather and recycable carpet. This so-called ‘Green Plane’ has been operating in regular revenue service, so Southwest could evaluate normal wear and durability. Based on the in-flight test results and feedback from customers onboard the Green Plane, Southwest has just announced its new ‘Evolve’ interior, which will feature refurbished seats, more under-seat space, new carpets and a more stylish colour palette. Southwest says the materials used are “green” and lighter, reducing each aircraft’s weight by several hundred pounds per plane, thereby saving fuel and costs.

Seats, carpet
APEX reports that Southwest is retaining the B/E Aerospace-manufactured ‘Innovator II’ seat frames on its 737-700s, but will add fixed wing head rests, new, thinner, more durable foam fill, and synthetic ‘E-Leather’ seat covers – an eco-friendly, lightweight and scuff resistant alternative to traditional leather. The airline is also removing the under-seat floatation device – and instead adding smaller and lighter life vest pouches – to create weight savings of nearly six pounds per seat. A smart new feature are netted seat pockets, which have so-called ‘crumb catchers’ at the bottom that can be zippered open to allow the crumbs to come out. Furthermore, completely recyclable, carbon-neutral carpet from InterfaceFLOR will be laid in squares, rather than rolls, which eliminates the need for total carpet replacement.

The slimmer refurbished seats will also allow Southwest to reduce seat pitch from 32 to 31 inch and add an additional row on its 737-700s without sacrificing personal space. Southwest, however, emphasizes that “it was never our objective to add a row of seats, and the extra row isn’t the main reason for this redesign. Once we examined how much space would be saved, it was determined we could accommodate the increase, without sacrificing comfort.”

Sky Interior
Southwest will receive its first 737-800 ‘Sky Interior’ aircraft with the new Evolve interior in April 2012 and subsequently will start a retrofit of its fleet of 372 B737-700s. The operation is planned to be completed by the end of 2013 and represents an USD60 million investment. The airline, however, anticipates the new interior – coupled with the gain in seat capacity – will produce savings of about USD250 million annually.
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South African LCC Mango rewards random acts of kindness

By Vivek Mayasandra, Take Flight Project

Social good is on a lot of people’s minds these days. With a turbulent economic climate and more social awareness, nonprofits, charities and businesses have been scaling their presence to give more, and have been doing so with unique models. Over the past year, businesses in particular have been unprecedented in their initiatives ranging from pay-what-you-can schemes to giving free rides to volunteer events. The trend of spreading good is rightfully taking root in the global business community, and more and more airlines have been catching on with their own unique initiatives.

Airpoints, surprises and free wifi
Dutch carrier KLM has been widely recognized in the industry as a highly innovative carrier – a reputation that can also be applied to their involvement in kindness-based campaigns. In late 2010, KLM’s incredibly well-received KLM Surprise initiative, rewarded small gifts to random passengers who left an ‘@KLM’ tweet or checked in at the airline’s Schiphol Airport FourSquare locations. With New Zealand being the world’s first country to designate a national ‘Random Acts of Kindness Day’, it should come as no surprise that Air New Zealand has also been at the forefront of offering kindness to fliers. In addition to its long running gift-granting @AirNZFairy Twitter account, Air New Zealand earlier this year launched a similar campaign as KLM’s at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports.

Mango
Recognizing and rewarding kindness made its way to South Africa this year in the form of Kindness Month. Mango, one of the country’s low cost carriers, and a subsidiary of South African Airways, commemorated its fifth birthday by implementing a new initiative to reward acts of kindness across the country. During ‘Kindness Month’, which started on 15 November and lasts until 15 December, 2011, Mango will be celebrating acts of kindness between South Africans “through hearing how South Africans helped one another.”

Says Mango’s CEO Nico Bezuidenhout, “We want to hear about personal experiences, about individuals who have made a difference; small but significant acts that has impacted someone’s day, week or life. It could be a shop assistant who went out of their way for a customer, a friend in need, someone who gives you a lift when in challenging circumstances. Anything. In the lead up to the December holiday season, we need to share kindness in even larger measures.”
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‘No-frills chic’ carrier IndiGo becomes India’s second largest domestic airline in just five years

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By Vivek Mayasandra, Take Flight Project

There’s no doubt that the low-cost carrier business model has boomed in the past decade. Focusing on innovation and enhanced experiences on top of the traditional low-cost model, ‘no frills chic’ airlines such as Jetblue and Virgin America have created a loyal following. In recent years, this concept has been spreading around the globe, albeit slowly, with start-up carriers such as Virgin Australia, Azul from Brazil and Japan’s Starflyer focusing on the passenger experience in order to differentiate themselves from established players.

IndiGo
In India, a very competitive market that is growing at the world’s second fastest rates, IndiGo has become the second largest domestic carrier by securing nearly 19 percent of the local market in just five years. According to IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh, the airline’s philosophy is “to make travel as hassle-free as possible — low-cost but high quality — and that’s why we are popular both with budget travellers and high-level corporations”.

Since its launch in 2006, IndiGo has been the fastest growing low-cost carrier in the world, while posting profits over the last three years. In the 12 months ending March 2011, the airline achieved a 25 percent profit margin on its operations, generating a profit of USD132 million. Traffic in the 2010-11 fiscal year grew with 39 percent, with average load factors above 80 percent. IndiGo ordered no less than 100 A320 aircraft when it started operations and in 2011 pushed for an additional 150 A320neos (for delivery between 2016 and 2025), as well as 30 more A320s, which besides for domestic growth are intended for international expansion.

Branding the passenger experience
IndiGo’s media campaign has focused more on customer service and less on pricing where it is hard to be competitive, and the airline’s avant-garde branding has been a major differentiator. Collaborating with branding agency Wieden + Kennedy, IndiGo has come out with campaigns focused around the no-frills chic concept. Cheeky print ads promoted IndiGo’s same-day return flights from major Indian cities, extra seat pitch (2 inches more than India’s industry standard) and new aircraft. IndiGo’s check-in counters feature banners saying “India’s Coolest Airline” and check-in queues have “Cut The Red Tape” signs. Read full article