Competition among airlines is levelling

THERE was a time when I was particular about my choice of airlines. Yet it was not a difficult decision then as there was a wide material and reputation gap among them. So I was a loyal customer, flying mostly the same one or two airlines for the premium I placed on safety, comfort and service. I believe it was the case with most regular travellers.

However, the scenario seems to be shifting ever since the global economic crisis levels the playing field, with many erstwhile competitors in their preoccupation with cutting costs offering almost similar products. While the premium players shift downward, some others smartly shift upwards to close the gap. Besides, with more airlines forming alliances, you may not necessarily fly the airline you are booked with, and this can turn out to be either a bonus or a disappointment.

Last week, I flew with All Nippon Airways (ANA) from Singapore to Tokyo (Narita). To be precise, it was operated by Air Japan – a subsidiary of ANA, and it is also code-shared with Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. So does it matter which airline exactly you identify with?

But credit to ANA (for that was the airline I booked with) for a very pleasant flight. The crew was excellent and the in-flight programme had enough movies to keep me entertained for the 6-hour or so flight. No complaint about the meals – the attendants came round with different beverages during the flight (apple juice, green tea cold, green tea hot, English tea hot and water). If there was one thing I would wish for, it would be more recline for the seat, which was however reasonably comfortable.

I would consider flying ANA again. Hopefully that was not the only occasion that its good service prevailed. And perhaps I would try out others as well if they suit my schedules and needs, and as I become encouraged to reassess their improved image against my erstwhile expectations.

The competition is levelling. If every airline offers almost the same product to satisfy the basic purpose of getting from one destination to another, then the name of the airline may become irrelevant in the choice of which airline to fly with.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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