They say the customer is always right. But 'they' have probably never flown on a budget airline. Air New Zealand is lauded for its customer service and, as a result, has legions of loyal fans. But other airlines focus on price at the expense of almost everything else and have legions of loyal haters. And in the world of aviation, it's a strategy that seems to work.
In New Zealand, Jetstar has had a number of high-profile PR lapses—from not allowing shark attack victim Adam Strange's mother to change her booking to telling a non-pregnant woman pregnant women can't fly—and has gained a reputation for being unreliable (it's even become a verb). But, despite this, it has flown five million domestic customers since its 2009 launch and its latest figures show it has increased its domestic market share from just under 20 percent to 22 percent during the past year.
Chief executive of Australia and New Zealand David Hall wouldn't disclose whether the airline is profitable in New Zealand, but he has stated it's on a mission to improve customer service. Stuff that. Put simply, you're either cheap or you're good and it's unlikely you're both in this industry. So perhaps the airline could take a leaf out of this brutally honest and rather confrontational (fictional) campaign for Ryanair that won gold at the student awards at Clio this year (but, unless a disgruntled marketer decides to sabotage the business, is unlikely to ever run).