SIA must find service gaps that it can fill

SIA could offer flights that get passengers to their destination in the fastest and most direct way possible. Another draw would also be flights that arrive and depart at less unearthly hours.
SIA could offer flights that get passengers to their destination in the fastest and most direct way possible. Another draw would also be flights that arrive and depart at less unearthly hours.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Singapore Airlines seems to have failed to ride the big wave of increased air travel in a booming Asia (SIA has lost market share and needs new strategy; May 26, and How to restore the Singapore Girl's lustre; May 25).

Air travel has been made affordable, especially with the proliferation of low-cost carriers, and SIA's premium appeal has worn thin.

Besides, travellers who want a premium travel experience are spoilt for choice. The Middle Eastern carriers offer new aircraft with fine cabin finishings, seamless in-flight entertainment, exceptional dining options, and a multinational crew.

The perceived value of these carriers is much higher than SIA's.

SIA needs to differentiate itself, not just from other airlines but also from its subsidiaries.

As an avid and frequent traveller, I have some ideas for it.

Many passengers want the shortest and most direct connections to their destination. I would choose to switch carriers if the layover was too long.

Air travel has been made affordable, especially with the proliferation of low-cost carriers, and SIA's premium appeal has worn thin... SIA needs to differentiate itself, not just from other airlines but also from its subsidiaries.

SIA could take advantage of this, perhaps by offering shorter travel times.

Another pet peeve of passengers is the tendency for flights to arrive late at night or depart early in the morning. The ability to break this pattern and offer flights at less unearthly hours would certainly be a business opportunity.

SIA must look beyond being just an airline, and engage passengers continuously. It could develop an app to offer a seamless experience from booking, pre-flight pick-up and check-in, as well as post-flight arrangements, including information on hotels, transport, scenic spots and leisure activities.

Through Big Data, travellers' preferences can be better understood, which helps build client loyalty.

Of course, nothing can replace the human touch. Despite the pressure to automate and cut costs, face-to-face contact is paramount.

Taking pride in service is a differentiator that would make SIA a great way to fly once more.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 'SIA must find service gaps that it can fill'. Print Edition | Subscribe