Star Alliance confident that SAA will pull through
Sydney – Although South African Airways (SAA) has challenges in terms of its turnaround, its global airline partner alliance Star Alliance is confident that the airline will manage to pull through.
SAA plays a very important role for Star Alliance, Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance told Fin24 at the recent 74th annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) in Sydney.
"SAA is a long standing member of Star Alliance, with its 28 airline members across the world. Yes, SAA has challenges in terms of its turnaround, but I am confident that under its new leadership, SAA will succeed."
Goh said Star Alliance always looks at ways to support SAA in its attempts to meet challenges.
"SAA’s new leadership also seems focused on the customer experience, which aligns with the Star Alliance strategy," said Goh.
He said digitisation was a big focus for Star Alliance, and the airline alliance is looking into how to leverage technology to enhance the customer experience, including regarding loyalty programmes.
He said currently Star Alliance is putting the emphasis more on customer experience than on expanding the membership of the alliance even more.
"Generally, Star Alliance has grown to a certain size, and our executive board feels our membership provides sufficient coverage to provide global service. At the moment there really are no more airlines we feel we should add to our alliance which could add more value. That is why we are not just chasing more airline membership," said Goh.
The airport experience of passengers is an important area of focus. This includes the experience of customers when on their way to the airport.
Another way digitisation could be used to enhance the passenger experience would be the introduction of a virtual digital assistant to help passengers get from one flight to the next, or to check in on any of the member airlines using the member airline’s website or app of choice.
Star Alliance wants to think long-term, while delivering short-term.
Some aspects to enhance the customer experience include the ability to track baggage even among different Star Alliance member airlines and throughout the whole journey. Star Alliance is also aiming to develop the ability to reserve seats among its various members at the booking stage, despite some challenges in making this a reality.
"We are continuously looking at how we can upgrade the customer experience," said Goh.
* Fin24 was a guest of Iata at its AGM.
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