The ‘plane truth’ is that the merger of American and US Airways will be the biggest airline in the world. Problem is not its size but its ability to gather information, find uses for existing resources, and retain passenger loyalty.
American and US Airways must look at everything-from management to flight attendants, routes to schedules, and most of all to make passengers feel that their input is critical. Most airlines still believe that thinking outside the box will solve problems. The box symbolizes conventional wisdom and predictable boundaries. And that’s where the problems lie. To think outside the box, step back into it-analyzing your strengths and weaknesses. The combined employees are one of their best resources, to tap their hidden talents and opinions that could create a company wide problem solving team.
Unlike prior mergers the new American should break problems into components to see where the root causes lie. Once they know what they are dealing with they can step ‘outside the box’ and solve problems with an eye toward market trends and opportunities.
Their competition is not just United/Continental or Northwest/Delta it is Spirit and Southwest. These are airlines that have discovered a new way of pricing…competitively.
Here’s a recent example. From Chicago to Dallas on March 3 and returning on March 6, 2013. Coach class $438 on AA, $398 on US Airways, and $168 on Spirit (Spirit does charge for both carryon and checked luggage). Same route. Same fuel costs. Different prices? Why? With the internet and large travel booking services the passenger will learn the wide range of ticket prices. No matter their loyalty, price will have a strong influence if all the services, comforts, and baggage fees are similar.
Airlines must offer passenger choices, price breaks, pay for what-you-want services, and reduce the decisions to price/value. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines, says that domestic airlines are not comfortable, baggage fees should be waived, and snacks and soft drinks offered at no charge. Why does he get it and the domestics can’t seem to hear passenger discord? Aren’t the passengers, the media, investors, all yelling loudly?
With so many flight options the consolidated airline must view their combined services in a new way.
When innovation meets expertise unrivaled solutions will result in ‘something special in the air.’
The new American should..
- Address the challenges associated with the new consolidation
- Identify critical priorities
- Make incremental improvements in passenger satisfaction
- Utilize technology applications more effectively
- Manage organizational growth and new business opportunities
- Reduce resistance and barriers created by change
- Capitalize on ‘shifts’ that make change successful
- Create a well-orchestrated, “flight crew” to capture today’s opportunities.
If American doesn’t meet a need, all the marketing in the world can’t fill the planes.