- Kulula and South African Airways are the most used brands but the majority of respondents (62%) say that British Airways is the airline they would be happiest to fly.
- Of the small sample (5%) that has never used domestic airlines, 40% claim cost to be the prohibiting factor and the rest say they have no need to.
- For the 93% of respondents who have used domestic airlines, BA comes out tops for overall experience while SAA ranks last
- An average rating across seven service categories, ranks BA number one and 1Time last
With the Fifa World Cup fast approaching and local airlines all jostling for a share of the international market, Interact RDT, the brand experience research consultancy, has surveyed local consumers on their experiences and perceptions of the domestic airline market.
Of the 93% of respondents who have flown domestically, a combined 70% fly South African Airways and Kulula (each carry 35% of respondents). The reason for these two brands' dominance is directly related to the availability of Voyager Miles for SAA and the low cost of fares on Kulula.
The least used is British Airways with only 5% of the sample flying them, followed by 1Time and Mango with 12% and 13% respectively. The cost of a ticket on BA is the reason for its relatively small piece of the pie.
On assessing actual experiences on the various airlines, SAA is ranked as offering the least favourable experience with its booking and check-in processes and attitude of flight crew pulling down its rankings.
The online survey conducted in mid-March asked respondents to rank their most used airline only on seven categories of service; booking process, check-in process, flight punctuality, food served, attitude of flight crew, flight comfort and overall experience.
On average all airlines' booking and check-in processes were highly rated with British Airways just taking the lead. They also lead on flight punctuality; a category where Kulula lags way behind its competitors. The category in which Kulula leads the pack is the attitude of flight crew.
Across all categories, 1Time and Mango are reported as offering a middle-of-the-road service. When asked why respondents chose to not use a particular brand, a lack of trust was near the top of the list of reasons why 1Time is not an option. The same was not true for Mango which is reportedly not picked because respondent claim never to have had the opportunity to do so.
“It's interesting to note the power of a loyalty programme. Although SAA is so well used, it doesn't appear to be all that well liked,” says Gary Greenfield, managing director of Interact RDT. “We also assessed consumer's perceptions about the various local airline brands and SAA is perceived as being relatively expensive, which indicates that people are using their ‘free' Voyager miles to travel locally.”
In terms of consumer perceptions, British Airways is considered to be the most expensive while Mango the least. However BA is perceived to be the most reliable (38%) and comfortable (48%). When asked which airline would potentially give consumers the most hassles, SAA was the brand named most by 21% of respondents.
When asked which airline respondents would be happy to fly with, BA ranked highest with 62% of the vote followed by SAA (56%), Kulula (44%), Mango (25%) and 1Time (23%). These results correlate almost directly to the power of the grapevine; with respondents saying that they had heard good things about each airline as follows; BA 50%, Kulula 28%, SAA 25%, Mango 12% and 1Time 11%.
“Regardless of whether the perceptions given by our respondents represent the true facts is immaterial,” says Greenfield. “In the competitive world of consumer buying activity, perception is reality. So, if the local airlines are concerned about our consumer panel response, we suggest they look very carefully at what has created these opinions and what will change them.” About Interact RDT
Interact RDT (which stands for Research Design Technology) offers a range of consumer experience research and consulting services designed to develop true loyalty from within a customer base.