40 out of 40 for Oman Air September 2, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Marketing, Oman, Travel.
Tags: Airines, Aviation, National Day, Oman, Oman Air
Launches 40th destination ahead of 40th National Day of Oman.
Pic credit: Christophe Selzere, JetPhotos.Net
Congratulations to Oman Air, the national airline of the Sultanate of Oman, who launched Kathmandu, its 40th destination today. 2010 is of great significance for the Sultanate as it marks the 40th National Day of Oman (the birthday of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said is on 18 November). Every corporate in the country is involved in a marketing activity to do with the #40, so it is great to see Oman Air celebrate in a unique manner by launching their 40th route.
Oman Air commenced operations in 1993. It achieved modest growth as a privately owned regional player till 2007, when the Government of Oman pulled out of Gulf Air, designated Oman Air as national carrier, recapitalized it and focused on developing it as an international airline. In 2007, Oman Air went long-haul by launching Bangkok and London. From then on, there has been no looking backwards for Oman Air, with a penchant of doing business differently from its bigger cousins in the region.
Pic credit: Smit ZhiFei, JetPhotos.Net
2008 saw a slew of changes at Oman Air. In February 2008, Oman Air unveiled its new branding and aircraft livery as a part of its plans to go international. The characteristic Red, White and Green national colors and traditional Khanjar gave way to Turquoise Blue, Silver and Gold along with a Frankincense smoke plume in an effort to project Oman Air as the new wings of Oman and the ambassador of a nation known for its timeless traditions, vibrant heritage and legendary hospitality.
The year also saw the launch of new routes to the Indian Sub-Continent and the unveiling of a new fleet and long-haul route expansion program. In July 2008, industry veteran and former chief executive of Srilankan Airlines, Mr. Peter Hill took over as the new CEO of Oman Air following the untimely demise of CEO Ziad bin Karim Al Haremi, who played a stellar role in initiating the redevelopment and change of image of Oman Air.
2009 was truly a bellwether year for Oman Air. Under the leadership of Mr. Peter Hill and a revitalized management team, Oman Air went all out to dazzle the industry in a year of superlative achievements. The year witnessed in rapid succession the arrival of the first of Oman Air’s brand new A330s, the launch of Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Male and Colombo, the unveiling of new Balenciaga designed uniforms, the launch of industry-leading First, Business and Economy Class cabins on the A330 fleet. A $10 million destination marketing campaign in association with Ministry of Tourism saw both Oman and Oman Air make great inroads into European markets. During the 2009 Dubai Air Show, Oman Air finalized an order for 5 Embraer 175 aircraft with another 5 options.
In 2010, Oman Air became the first airline in the world to offer in-flight mobile and WiFi connectivity through OnAir onboard its long-haul Airbus A330 fleet. It is interesting to note that Oman Air covered impressive strides during a period when the airline industry was weathering a downturn.
Having made significant investments in infrastructure and improving its products and services over the last few years, the future looks robust for Oman Air. The airline has a strategic vision of differentiating itself from its regional competitors by being a niche boutique airline that is focused on driving point-to-point traffic rather than being a hub-and-spoke carrier.
The results of ‘Change is on its way’ and ‘Discover the future of air travel’ are promising. During the first half of 2010, Oman Air saw a 40% increase in available seat-kilometres, a 73% rise in revenue passenger-kilometres and a 14 point improvement in seat factor, over the same period last year with passenger numbers up by 46% and cargo by 44%.
Along with the ongoing development of Muscat International Airport, Oman Air is playing a key role in the development of 4 domestic airports coming up in Sohar, Ras Al Hadd, Adam and Duqm. In October 2010, Oman Air will launch Milan as its 41st route. The airline will take delivery of its 7th A330 in 2011along with the first of Embraer jets that will ply on domestic routes. Plans are on to refurbish the existing B737 fleet to the same standards as the luxurious A330 fleet. Oman Air will take delivery of its first B787 Dreamliner in 2014 (the airline will be acquiring them from ALAFCO). The first of 6 737s on order are expected to arrive in 2014 as well.
The fortunes of Oman Air will be tied to the successful joint promotion of Oman as a must-visit luxury destination by both Oman Air and Oman’s Ministry of Tourism (a point Mr. Hill emphasizes often to fill the birds), development of ancillary services related to hospitality, tourism, ground services etc., and a continual improvement of travel services in a region that offers unparalleled choice to the flying public and intense competition between regional legacy carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways who are truly global in their reach and cut-throat Low Cost Carriers such as Flydubai and Air Arabia.
Mabrook, Oman Air. More power to your wings. Fly higher for Oman!
The best cabin crew uniform in Indian skies August 17, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Aviation, Branding, India, Marketing, Travel.
Tags: Air India, Air India Express, Cabin Crew, GoAir, Indian, IndiGo, Jet Airways, JetLite, Kingfisher Airlines, Kingfisher Red, Livery, Paramount Airways, SpiceJet, Uniform
Close on the heels of JetLite unveiling their new cabin crew uniforms, IndiGo has decided to go for the PanAm designer look and shake up the skies.
Let’s have a fun contest today to find out the best cabin crew uniform in the Indian skies.
Who looks the sizzling best? Feel free to vote for your favorite airline uniform in the poll that follows the pictures. I pick Jet Airways.
* (Apologies for the ‘poor’ GoAir pic! Do share if you find a better one!)
Dubai: The Identity Crisis Next Door March 15, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Branding, Marketing.
Tags: Dubai, Identity Crisis, Marketing
I have been thinking more about Identity Crisis since reading Alexander McNabb’s interesting blog post ‘Couples Kiss. Naturally.’ While his post is about the latest Western Expat PDA-scandal to come out of Dubai, it’s also a brilliant account of how life in Dubai is changing with the times. And certainly not for the best.
A term coined by 20th century developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, an identity crisis occurs when an individual loses a sense of personal sameness and historical continuity. While Erikson used it mostly to apply to the period of transition from teenage to adulthood, it is now thought that an identity crisis may occur at any time of life, especially in periods of great transition.
Today, Dubai seems to be at the crossroads of an identity crisis.
Dubai was envisioned to be the El Dorado where the best of East and West met. A dream destination where the world came to have a good life and a great time. At least that is how it is still marketed as. After enjoying years of supersonic growth as the land of superlatives, a recession almost brought the wheels of progress to a grinding halt. Dubai suddenly became a hotbed of negative PR. When not covering the debt crisis, global media is gleeful than ever to toast scandals such as ‘sex on the beach’ and ‘kiss-gate’. The way Dubai responds to these issues is certainly not helping.
Dubai is changing and is not what it used to be or is meant to be. The universal values of tolerance, openness and multiculturalism are what made Dubai dazzle. They fitted well with Dubai’s vision to be the world’s city. Unfortunately, these are the very values Dubai is trying to control unsuccessfully in an attempt ‘shape’ or ‘preserve’ national identity.
Brands, companies and even individuals can fall prey to the identity crisis that’s hit Dubai. We may be on a journey of meteoric growth. Or we may have just hit a bedrock of stagnation. Somewhere along the line we give up on the compass that’s meant to guide us and lose control of the rudder that’s meant to steer us in the desired direction.
A mismatch between perception and reality is a sure-shot symptom of an identity crisis at work. The one affected will be the last person to see it though.
Going two steps forward and then three steps backward never gets one anywhere. Few questions to reflect on during an identity crisis.
- In our personal and professional avatars, are we saying one thing and doing another?
- Are we really who we think we are and who we want to be?
- Where are we going and how are we getting there?
- Do our actions lead to the result we want to achieve?
- What about our values?
- Are they the same as when we started off on our journey? Are we compromising them somewhere?
These questions make for interesting soul searching during an identity crisis. After all, the bigger we are, the more we risk to lose.
Brand Leadership Lessons from Air New Zealand January 26, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Branding, Conversations, Marketing, Travel.
Tags: Air New Zealand, Airlines, Business, Innovation, Marketing, Skycouch, Travel
At the edge of the world, a small airline is pushing the envelope when it comes to doing the right things. This is a hallmark of a brand that is going places, even in times of adversity. For example: Air New Zealand.
And here’s how they are getting there.
Pic credit: Flickr – source
1. Be bold in your marketing
Air New Zealand is not shy of stirring a little turbulence in your teacup. Bold, edgy and provocative – that’s how I would describe their recent marketing.
Their ‘Nothing to Hide’ campaign was an excellent take on low cost airlines adding hidden fares. Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe even made a cameo appearance in full body-paint as a baggage handler in this campaign. It was extended to airline safety where crewmembers went bare naked in in-flight safety videos.
However, Air New Zealand recently flew into a bit bad weather with their controversial ‘Cougar’ campaign. But there’s really no thing such as bad PR.
In October 2009, Air New Zealand flew probably the first matchmaking flight in the world from Auckland to Los Angeles, complete with its own social media networking site, pre-flight airport party, loads of in-flight merrymaking and a ticket to a gala post-flight mixer attended by 150 single Kiwis.
All these activities fit Air New Zealand’s vision of “putting the fun back in flying”.
Lesson: Let your marketing be bold, unconventional and spoken about.
2. Your product matters
No marketing or promotion can save you if you don’t have a good product or improve your existing product offering.
Today, Air New Zealand is in the news for their newly launched ‘SkyCouch’ flatbed seat in Economy Class.
While it’s too early to predict its success, Air New Zealand can be hailed for bringing innovation to the back of the cabin.
Like an enthusiast commented: “The SkyCouch is up there with EK’s A380 showers and SIA’s double beds. Gotta love the Kiwis!”
Lesson: Never stop working on improving your product/service.
3. Be different to be better
If you are doing something different from the pack, recognition follows you.
The airline industry usually witnesses a “McDonald’s” approach of doing things. If someone is launching a Low-Cost Carrier (LCC), everyone else does the same thing. If you start charging for check-in baggage, everyone else follows suit.
Air New Zealand’s SkyCouch is a daring innovation in terms of product, price and positioning. But this is just one of the many innovations they have been up to in the recent times.
No wonder, the Air Transport World magazine recently named Air New Zealand Airline of the Year.
Lesson: What are you doing differently to be better?
4. Leadership begins from the top
Positive change begins from the top and flows down the ladder. Under the leadership of Rob Fyfe, Air New Zealand seems to have galvanized itself and embraced ‘an authentic Kiwi can-do style’ of getting things done.
“We operate this airline in a New Zealand way – we’re not trying to emulate a Singapore Airlines or emulate a McDonald’s. We’re trying to go out there day in and day out and trying to be authentic Kiwis and give people a real genuine New Zealand experience,” says Fyfe.
Lesson: Are you the Fyfe of your organization?
5. Innovation Quotient
Air New Zealand recently made the world’s first flight using a sustainable biofuel. It also attempted sending a rocket into space. These are innovations at work.
One of the greatest assets in any organization is its people, their knowledge and attitudes. Harness them well and you have a strong culture of innovation.
Air New Zealand has an interesting programme called Test Flight where employees pitch ideas to the executive team. If the idea is chosen, the person suggesting the idea can get to work on the project itself and get a share of the profits.
Air New Zealand also looks outside its own industry for ideas. “We don’t just look at other airlines, at airports. We look at shopping centres, we look at universities, we look pretty much anywhere to get ideas that we could potentially use at Air New Zealand,” says Julia Raue, Chief Information Officer at Air New Zealand.
Lesson: What’s your organization’s innovation quotient?
6. People make the difference
As a company, Air New Zealand is known to create a work environment that values and recognizes people for their enthusiasm and ingenuity.
So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the airline gave its 11,000 staff an extra day off to celebrate their part in winning the Airline of the Year award.
Lesson: How well are your people contributing to your growth? Are there ways to energize them better?
What else can you learn from Air New Zealand? Feel free to add your views and comments.