Ho­gan talks can­didly about their game-chang­ing busi­ness model

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE -

One on One with Eti­had’s James Ho­gan and One on One with Jin Jiang’s Cinn Tan. FAA OKs elec­tronic de­vices gate to gate. Delta adds more transcon­ti­nen­tal fully-flat seats. Qatar joins oneworld. Ritz-Carl­ton bows in In­dia. Conrad en­hances Concierge app. Radis­son de­buts at JFK. Loews Mid­town Man­hat­tan opens in Jan­uary. South­west, Dish lend iPad 2s. All NewYork-Lon­don Amer­i­can flights will lie-flat by March. Boe­ing, SAA team on bio­fuel ini­tia­tive.

BT: So of­ten the trav­eler is called a“pas­sen­ger.”I no­ticed you con­sis­tently re­fer to your cus­tomer as a guest; an in­ten­tional qual­i­fier?

HO­GAN: Our cus­tomers are our guests. Most of the cur­rent lead­er­ship has roots in hos­pi­tal­ity so the gen­uine sense of a guest goes back many years – prior to my ar­rival. Ev­ery per­son who walks onto that air­craft or into one of our lounges or even speaks to our staff on the ground wants to be treated spe­cial, like one of our guests. Not a num­ber but a wel­comed guest as if you were wel­com­ing some­one in your own home. Ser­vice is a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­en­tia­tor for Eti­had and this is just one as­pect of ser­vice where we aim to set our­selves apart.

BT: As an air­line group that has an own­er­ship stake in air­lines in­clud­ing Air Ber­lin, Jet Air­ways, Air Ser­bia,Vir­gin Aus­tralia, Aer Lin­gus, and oth­ers, there is that open no­tion of your po­si­tion and ap­proach to an air­line al­liance.

HO­GAN: There is no ques­tion that there is power in num­bers. Con­nect­ing mar­ket seg­ments, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment or sup­plier lever­age and shared ser­vices, we just ap­proach it dif­fer­ently. We fo­cus on an eq­uity al­liance. If we“both” can’t come to­gether and make money, drive ef­fi­ciency, and grow more rapidly to­gether, then what is the point? If I can or­der more 777 air­craft at a bet­ter rate by or­der­ing col­lec­tively across the eq­uity al­liance, both Boe­ing and the al­liance wins! The same con­sid­er­a­tion goes for the en­tire busi­ness. BT: Fa­vorite air­craft?

HO­GAN: The next gen of the 777 is very ex­cit­ing. The eco­nom­ics, prof­itabil­ity, and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments may yet again ad­vance the busi­ness and fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

BT: The trav­eler’s ex­pe­ri­ence has taken on its own role. Since it is such a per­sonal as­pect of travel, how does Eti­had ap­proach trav­eler be­hav­ior?

HO­GAN: The fo­cus is re­ally across the en­tire re­la­tion­ship with a guest. Our guest ex­pe­ri­ence spans door-todoor, air­port, and of course in-cabin ser­vices. Sev­eral of the lat­est in-cabin ex­am­ples in­clude 600-plus hours of en­ter­tain­ment, Dine on De­mand, fly­ing nan­nies and our new in­di­vid­ual suites. The lounge is another area where we look to de­liver above-and-be­yond ex­pe­ri­ences for our guests.

BT: Cul­ture is some­thing com­pa­nies talk about, but at Eti­had, it’s been noted that the con­cept is em­braced and taught and you even push the en­ve­lope.

HO­GAN: We have over 16,000 em­ploy­ees with more than $6 bil­lion in rev­enue next year.Yes, we are the fastest grow­ing air­line in his­tory but that re­quires an in­vest­ment in peo­ple be­yond bor­ders. Pi­lots, crew and staff all have to have the same mis­sion, and un­der­stand­ing one another is crit­i­cal. To­day we have 1,300 pi­lots from 110 dif­fer­ent coun­tries, 300 Emi­rate pi­lots in train­ing and some­thing very ex­cit­ing – woman emi­rate pi­lots! So many peo­ple would see that as push­ing the en­ve­lope; I would say it is hav­ing some of the most ta­lented pi­lots in com­mer­cial avi­a­tion.

BT: What is your se­cret weapon?

HO­GAN: With­out ques­tion – our peo­ple, prod­uct and ser­vice we of­fer our guests.

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