• ‘It is difficult to harmonise airline services’

    As Star Alliance, a club of 28 global airlines including Air India, celebrates its 20th anniversary, its Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Goh, met global media to outline the Alliance’s plans. Excerpts

    A lot of customer service issues have been raised by various airlines with United being the big one? Has there been any discussion at the Alliance on common standards of customer service?

    We should recognise that certain operational matters remain the prerogative of our members. In terms of cooperation, Star Alliance is not all-encompassing.

    On the issue of more standardised service, it is not easy to achieve because our members are of different size, cultural backgrounds and have different business models… it is very difficult to try and harmonise service standards. In the case of United, there has been a lot of interaction within the Alliance…The resulting new policy for this airline (United) is certainly one of communication and exchange with other members. The discussion was not across the Alliance but among members.

    In a large country like India, is one airline enough for the Alliance, or will you look at another partner?

    India and Brazil are big and fast growing markets. We are constantly assessing to see whether one, two or even a third member will meet our purposes.

    Will that be a low-cost carrier or a full-service airline?

    The Connecting Partner Model gives us the option of working either with a full-service carrier or with, I will not call it a low-cost carrier, a hybrid carrier, on a more local or regional basis. (Launched in December 2015, the Connecting Partner Model allows low-cost and hybrid airlines to connect to the Alliance network.)

    In its 20th year, will you look at advocacy as the Alliance has not really spoken up on issues concerning the industry?

    If it is an industry issue, we think the better people to advocate it will be the International Air Transport Association or the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

    But almost three-fourth of the passengers flown globally are on your partner airlines…

    It will depend on the issues.

    Which are the issues?

    Our voice may add, but it is not going to change, for instance, the electronic devices ban. We have a view on this and we will share it with IATA and ICAO.

    What is your view?

    Our members are concerned. Obviously this impacts operations and customer experience. If this has a negative customer experience, then we should be careful.

    But it is a positive for a number of your airlines (the laptop ban has seen passenger carriage increase on Air India)…

    If you look at the latest coming out of Washington, they are also thinking of extending the ban to Europe.

    We have a member from the US as do the other alliances and they operate to many stations in Europe.

    If this ban happens, it is going to affect them just as much as other airlines.

    In its 20th year, is Star Alliance now targeting 20-year-olds by shifting the focus to a digital experience?

    We have to adapt.

    If we continuously focus on high-value travellers… then we are missing an important segment of the market. Travis Frederick Womens Jersey

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