Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : October 2009 Contents 47
OCTOBER 2009 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
Barbarians at the gates different airline to the one that first faced
Ansett New Zealand in 1987, having being
privatised in 1989 and then reborn under
majority government ownership after the
collapse of Ansett in September 2001.
The airline now has 16 737-300s mostly
dedicated to domestic routes, while 11
ATR 72-500s operated by Mount Cook,
23 Q300s operated by Air Nelson, and 18
Beech 1900Ds with Eagle Airways cover
27 regional destinations under the Air New
Zealand Link brand.
By December it is expected to an-
nounced a replacement for its 737-300
fleet, with the 737NG and A320 under
Air New Z ealand argues with plenty of
conviction and credibility that it has the
wor ld ’s best domestic airline offering with a
host of firsts.
The airline has also reinvented the web ex-
perience with its ‘grab-a -seat ’ website which
averages 100,000 hits a day, has designed a
loyalty scheme based around any seat and
at any time which has now been copied by
Virgin and Qantas, and set a world standard
for the airport check-in experience.
“ We have created a product and journey
for our domestic customers that is unri-
valled in the market,” says Whittaker.
Air New Z ealand has made use of the
latest technologies to streamline the board-
ing process with options such as email,
mobile phone or a permanent unique
For instance, pa ssengers travelling
without a bag have check-in performed
at the completion of the booking. Th ese
custom ers now only need to ensure that
they arrive at the aircraft gate as little as
six minutes prior to departure, where gate
sca nners ena ble to them to gate che ck-in
with a swipe of their personalised RFID
chip or ba rcode and boa rd the aircraft.
Kiosk, we b check and SMS check a re all
superseded in one leap.
But all the technology in the world can’t
help if the price isn’t right and the low fare
market perception generated by the Virgin/
Pacific Blue and Jetstar PR machines is
arguably some of the best in the world.
NOThINg TO hIde
Air New Z ealand has hit back with what
are possibly the most watched airline TV
advertising campaigns on YouTube called
‘Nothing to Hide’ and ‘Bare Essentials’.
The first campaign highlighted that
Air Ne w Zealand ’s fares were inclusive
with no added extras, and to demonstrate
this a number of staff stripped down to
g-strings and were body painted in their
uniforms with CEO Rob Fyfe joining in
as a baggage handler – a job he and his
management team do once a month in real
life, rotating with flight attendant, check-in
agent and maintenance engineer roles.
That c ampaign was followed by Air
New Z ealand ’s ‘Bare Essential’ inflight
sa fety video with staff again wea ring little
more than body-paint. Combined, both
cam paigns and the bloopers have b een
seen by more than 10 million viewers on
At the other end or the PR scale was
Jetstar ’s less than auspicious launch of
NZ domestic services. In the first week of
operation in June Jetstar ’s flights were in
disarray with more than half over an hour
late, requiring a rejigging of the schedule.
Air New Zealand, in some cheeky
showmanship, offered NZ$50 fares to
disgr untled Jetstar passengers and those
who had missed a Jetstar flight because of
its strict 30 minute check-in condition. “Air
New Zealand Steps in as Jetstar Customers
Continue to Suffer,” read the title of Air
New Zealand’s June 23 press release.
Jetstar’s Buchanan accused Air New Zea-
land of staging a “dirty tricks” campaign by
circulating unsubstantiated rumours about
the airline ’s pilots and its aircraft.
“ We’ve experienced some tough compe-
tition before but we’ve never experienced
someone trying to sabotage our business, or
specifically go after us to try and discredit
us,” the Jetstar CEO told media.
Air NZ ’s short haul airline group
general manager, Bruce Parton, rejected
Buchanan’s claims. “Surely, Mr Buchanan
doesn’t expect Kiwis to believe that we
are responsible for his airline’s woes? We
didn’t dream up his draconian check-in
rules, his schedule that often cannot be
met, his endless schedule changes and his
decision to operate ill-equipped aircraft to
Queenstown that cannot achieve the same
punctuality as Air NZ ’s fleet.”
Part of Jetstar’s problem was its opera-
tion into the tourist jewel of Ne w Zealand
– Q ueenstown. The airline’s A320s are not
yet RNP equipped and its daily Auckland-
Auckland ser vice has sometimes run foul of
Queenstown’s fickle weather.
Air New Zealand’s 737-300s and
A320s and Qantas’s 737-800s are all RNP
equipped for Queenstown ops.
The net work fiasco prompted Jetsta r
on July 9 to apologise to customers.
Buchana n told media , “ We’ve definitely
had our share of woes and there are some
customers who haven’t had the be st Jetstar
experie nce, and for that we are apologetic,”
Buchanan also noted that “Australians
want a good onboard experience, while
Kiwis want a good airport experience.”
The airline issued its Jetstar Customer
Service Guarantee on July 9, effective
through to October 9, that promised a
NZ$50 voucher for any flight over an hour
late to be used on the passenger ’s next
Despite those difficulties, Jetstar says
its New Zealand domestic services were
profitable in July, the first full month of
operations, whereas Qantas was losing
NZ$750,000 a month on NZ routes. Load
factor for July was over 80 per cent.
Still, it is evident that Jetstar and Pa-
cific Blue face a big challenge in trying
to dislodge Air New Zealand. In a recent
TNS Conversa survey 25 per cent of New
Zealanders said that they would only fly Air
New Zealand, while 54 per cent said the air-
line was their preferred brand. Pacific Blue
scored three and 16 per cent respectively and
Jetstar a paltry one and 10 per cent.
A born-again Air New Zealand is well
placed to continue its dominance in the land
of the long white cloud, but the barbarians
– with their bigger aircraft and claimed
lower operating costs – are at the gate.
NOThINg TO hIde? Air NZ CEO Rob Fyfe (rear left) and baggage handlers in bodypaint for the airline’s
‘Nothing to Hide’ advertising campaign. (Air New Zealand)
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