The focus for airline alliances is shifting from recruiting new members to an emphasis on getting the basics right
It seems like only yesterday, but airline alliances have been with us for almost two decades. Much of the past fifteen years were spent on building the roster of carriers. But recently the focus has shifted from recruiting new members (after all, there are fewer candidates out there) toward an emphasis on the basics of the alliance product.
After all, it’s those basics, day in and day out, that go a long way in defining the success of an airline alliance. While all three alliances are laying on ever more lavish perks for their top frequent fliers, there are some underlying fundamentals that still need to be addressed, according to Darryl Jenkins, chairman of the American Aviation Institute.
“I think there are some things they have to do yet,”says Jenkins. One case in point: lost luggage. The aviation consultant believes“if you have a problem right now the airlines tend to point fingers at each other.”He says as alliances integrate operations more fully there needs to“be somebody willing to step up and take the blame”for a problem, and be in a position to provide a ready remedy.
Airlines have a long history of independent thinking, with their own strong cultural identities and internal ways of doing things sometimes going back over decades of operation. Getting them all to play nice in the same sandbox isn’t easy.
Smoothing out the wrinkles in such a global system“is something we have been putting a lot of emphasis on over the last two years,”according to Star Alliance media relations director Markus Ruediger. The idea is to take a look at“where the system failures that still exist are and how we can best sort those out.”