Finweek English Edition - - Business strategy -

THE AIR­LINE IN­DUS­TRY and on­line trans­ac­tions go hand in glove, which is il­lus­trated in the SA con­text by the suc­cess of Ku­l­, South African Air­ways (SAA), Na­tion­wide and 1time.

Al­though re­vised fig­ures to be re­leased this first quar­ter are likely to show 50% growth, the air­lines be­tween them ac­counted for about R1,8bn in ecom­merce, eas­ily dwarf­ing fig­ures for con­ven­tional on­line re­tail.

Boosted by its ir­rev­er­ent mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, Ku­l­ has been the sin­gle big­gest suc­cess story of e-com­merce in SA. The low-cost car­rier was the first lo­cal air­line to record R1bn in sales in a sin­gle year.

World Wide Worx man­ag­ing ex­ecu- tive Arthur Gold­stuck partly at­tributes the global air­line in­dus­try’s e-com­merce suc­cess to its watch­dog, the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IATA), which has un­wa­ver­ingly cam­paigned to sim­plify air travel.

“IATA’s hard­nosed cam­paign to push the global air­line in­dus­try to com­ply with its ideals of on­line tick­et­ing has largely con­trib­uted to this suc­cess.” He says e-com­merce is ideally suited to this kind of in­dus­try.

The air­lines have only their tick­ets to man­age and don’t have to de­liver a phys­i­cal prod­uct to their cus­tomers. Also, says Gold­stuck, their web­sites are user friendly, pro­vid­ing sim­ple guid­ance on how to log on, make a book­ing and pay for it. That, he says, is cru­cial to gain­ing mass ap­peal. Given the cur­rent trends, air travel will con­tinue to dom­i­nate con­sumer e-com­merce for at least the next five to 10 years, says Gold­stuck. ¤

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