What makes airBaltic’s “hybrid” airline model so successful? Interview with CCO Tero Taskila

Once in a while, I come across an innovative airline which is lead by executives who love to think out of the box. Last year, it was AirAsia that left me stunned. Now, it’s airBaltic. During my recent trip to Athens, Greece, I met up with Tero Taskila, the Chief Commercial Officer of the airline who was previously leading Strategy at Gulf Air.

I had been looking forward to interacting with him for some time now, and upon meeting him face to face, I can only confirm that he seems to be a very intelligent executive who’s not afraid to try new things to bring profitability to his airline.

For example, traditionally a point-to-point carier, and now a “hybrid”, Latvia’s national airline airBaltic launched an Internet shop in December 2009 – airBalticOutlet.com. Customers can purchase leading branded goods for lower prices, with delivery on board an airplane. The products include perfumery, cosmetics, accessories, sweets, and airBaltic and Latvian souvenirs. How’s that for innovation?

In my conversation with Tero, he spoke at length about the following issues and revaled what makes airBaltic so successful. (Click here if you’re unable to watch the video interview)

  • What is the “hybrid” airline model? (0:45)
  • How costs are kept low despite legacy airline facilities? (1:05)
  • Why a hub in Riga, Lativia naturally helps the airline? (1:47)
  • How airBaltic achieved 450% growth in online sales in Finland (2:17)
  • How brand awareness was translated into ticket sales (3:14)
  • How airBaltic has leveraged social media branding successfully for sales (4:54)
  • How airBaltic deals with negative sentiments on social media (5:52)
  • How airBaltic is looking to re-invent loyalty programs in 2010 (6:52)

So, what do you think about airBaltic’s success? Is it repeatable? Isn’t it refreshing to learn about such a visionary effort in gloomy times? Let’s discuss in the comments or over on Twitter (@simpliflying)

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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.
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Showing 22 comments
  • SKG flyer
    Reply

    Is it possible to write down what is being stated by the CCO T. Taskila concerning the known and unknown brands? I am working on my thesis on social media and the airline industry and this is very interesting material that I would like (provided I have your permission) to include as my citations in the paper. I am specifically looking for what is being stated by the airBaltic CCO at 4:00 to 4:10 concerning the value of the brand. Thank you for your help in advance and happy flying 😉

    • rovins
      Reply

      hello thre!
      could u please give me some idea whethr the social media has been cost-effective than call centre or othr traditional modes.. n is it efficient enough applicable 2 al mass customers? do LCC folow this?

  • Marius Bernatonis
    Reply

    Thanks, Shashank, that's an interesting interview. Let's try to repeat the airBaltic's achievment!
    Anyway if the airBaltic brings more travelers to our reagion it's good for us, local tour operators in the Baltic countries 🙂
    By the way our company will be exhibiting at the MATKA travel fair in Helsinki January 21 – 24th. I kindly invite all Finish and foreign travel specialists and travelers that are interested in our travel services in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to meet me at the fair at our stand.
    Marius Bernatonis, 101 TURAS.

  • Andrzej Kawalek
    Reply

    Great job on the video, I liked his comment about the University town and how they got help from students to promote the airline through social media.

    Keep up the good work!

    -JJ
    Postcard Films
    http://www.PostcardFilms.com

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    Nice video.
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  • dolce and gabbana perfume
    Reply

    Very interesting article. I like the things AirBaltic has implemented, other airlines should follow their lead!

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    like the things AirBaltic has implemented

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