Air NZ liberating customers, becomes top profit performer

Within the airline industry, Air New Zealand has plenty of admirers, and is now the most profitable in Australasia with expectations of a full-year pre-tax profit of at least $300 million in August, which compares with analysts’ forecasts for a pre-tax loss of $731 million at its once-stronger rival Qantas.

Dominic Walsh, the managing director of brand consulting firm Landor Australia, has worked for Qantas and Jetstar. He says Air New Zealand’s focus on innovation is much more exciting for customers and employees than Qantas’s cost cutting.

“You have seen Air New Zealand taken a lead [on Qantas],” Walsh says.

“You get a sense Air New Zealand has a clear vision for the future and where future growth is going to come from.”

Over the past decade, Air New Zealand has beaten Qantas with innovations such as a business class seat that can be reclined for take-off and landing, a premium economy cabin, a Skycouch in economy that can become a lie-flat seat, kiosk-based check-in for international flights and a travel debit card linked to its frequent flyer scheme. Soon it will offer a TripAdvisor app on the in-flight entertainment system.

There are also its famous safety videos featuring celebrities such as Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, Bear Grylls, Betty White and Richard Simmons. They have helped to promote the brand worldwide.

“I think the marketing has done a fabulous job in the last four or five years,” Air New Zealand chief financial officer Rob McDonald says.

Carrie Hurihanganui, Air New Zealand’s general manager for customer experience, says the airline’s brand promise is about “liberating from the ordinary”, whether that means amusing wallpaper in its bathrooms or providing striped purple socks rather than plain black ones in its amenity kits.

“For us, it is about how do we create an experience that customers might tell their friends about?” Hurihanganui says.

Original article by: Jamie Freed, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 14, 2014

Photo by: Jordan Stead, via AP

Tags: Air New Zealand  Auckland  Bear Grylls  Betty White  Carrie Hurihanganui  Dominic Walsh  Jetstar  Landor Australia  Qantas  Richard Simmons  Rob McDonald  SkyCouch  Sports Illustrated  Sydney Morning Herald (The)  Tripadvisor  

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