Singapore Airlines – Time for re-branding?

Singapore Airlines flight attendants
Image via Wikipedia

Note: This is a Guest Post by Kat. She enjoys everything about airlines and works for their worst enemy: an airport.

Great brands have emerged amidst doom and gloom of economic recessions. Is this time for Singapore Airlines (SIA) to reinvent itself?

True enough, all these years, a Singapore Girl and premium class travel image were the selling points of the brand. But this economic crisis appears to have shaken and changed the landscapes of air travel industry quite significantly. More businessmen are taking budget carriers these days, premium class load factors show no signs of stopping decline, SIA business-class-only services had to be cut.

Market experts have been pointing out that even with the economic recovery premium class travel might not recover. After all, these low-cost-carriers (LCCs) get you there for a fraction of a price. At busier airports, LCCs have been snatching up slots, vacated by full-service carriers, which the latter might have a hard time getting back.

SIA appears to have been burning the candle from both ends. During the boom times, SIA had been steadily increasing the proportion of premium-class seats and improving level of service, while raising airfares. When the crisis struck, the airline appeared to be too slow to reduce ticket prices, banking on preservation of its image of a premium product. However, Emirates have been quick to imitate some of the product offerings at a lower price. Take for example first class suites. A Sydney-London return trip on Emirates will cost AUD 19,000, while the same itinerary on SIA will set one back AUD 22,500. So SIA is pricing itself out at a time when price is becoming an increasingly important factor in the choice of airline.

At the same time, there was a steady stream of complaints from the highest tier of frequent flyers (Solitaire PPS Club) because the airline discontinued offering lifetime membership and trimmed down benefits enjoyed by existing members. Travelers have been pointing out reductions in amenities during the flight and falling standards of service. Thus, the airline has not been meeting expectations dictated by the higher price braket.

As the skies are opening up, the carrier is facing tougher competition on more of its routes.

Is it already happening?

Just recently, SIA signed an agreement with Air India allowing bilateral usage of miles on each other’s flights. This will give more passengers an access to premium travel on SIA, further eroding its exclusive image.

Perhaps, Singapore Airlines Group too has realized that old times are gone for good and if it still wants to fly high, it has to review its branding strategy? Are we going to see SIA’s regional brand, Silkair, rise to greater prominence, now that simpler products with fewer frills (and costing fewer dollars) are all the rage? Or does Tiger Airways’ (an LCC) strong expansion already signal a foray into the new territory? I wonder.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco.Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others.Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
Recommended Posts
Showing 7 comments
  • oussama
    Reply

    I am not sure about reinventing but SIA and a few other Legacy airlines need to look at their business models and by extension their brands. The emphasis on First and Business travel and the cost of aircraft configurations to meet the brand requirement has been shaken during this recession. The loyalty to the brand has crumbled under the weight of financial realities. In a nut shell airlines are losing money because what they have been working for decades for, the First and Business passenger, has abandoned them.
    All of these airlines are still in DENIAL. Take for example an Emirates radio ad that goes something like this: Why settle for a midnight snack, fly First and enjoy gourmet food on demand; sure that must be the most expensive meal anyone would have ever had considering the cost of a FC vs.YC ticket, get real guys. They do not want to touch the Brand, so they increase surcharges to increase revenues at the expense of the economy passengers, basically driving them to travel on LCCs.
    Most of the Legacy airlines should look at their bread and butter, their economy passenger, and include him in the new BRAND.

  • oussama
    Reply

    I am not sure about reinventing but SIA and a few other Legacy airlines need to look at their business models and by extension their brands. The emphasis on First and Business travel and the cost of aircraft configurations to meet the brand requirement has been shaken during this recession. The loyalty to the brand has crumbled under the weight of financial realities. In a nut shell airlines are losing money because what they have been working for decades for, the First and Business passenger, has abandoned them.
    All of these airlines are still in DENIAL. Take for example an Emirates radio ad that goes something like this: Why settle for a midnight snack, fly First and enjoy gourmet food on demand; sure that must be the most expensive meal anyone would have ever had considering the cost of a FC vs.YC ticket, get real guys. They do not want to touch the Brand, so they increase surcharges to increase revenues at the expense of the economy passengers, basically driving them to travel on LCCs.
    Most of the Legacy airlines should look at their bread and butter, their economy passenger, and include him in the new BRAND.

  • Reply

    Image via Wikipedia Note: This is a Guest Post by Kat. She enjoys everything about airlines and works for their worst enemy: an airport.

pingbacks / trackbacks

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search

Getting Next Post...