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Strategic Departure For Air Australia’s New Arrival

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Strategic Airlines re-Brands Itself As Air Australia But Fails In Changing From Charter To Schedule

Strategic Departure for Air Australia's ArrivalEarlier this month I had the pleasure (or rather displeasure) of flying away for a short break with fledgling airline company Strategic Airlines but returned home a few days later courtesy of the brand new outfit known as Air Australia.

The two flights were like Chalk and Cheese - they may as well have been two different airlines!

The media hype has all been about Strategic re-branding itself with a new name and a new livery and giving Australians another option when choosing an airline…, thing is, no one seemed to notice that Strategic has been operating as a Charter Airline for years and now with the re-branding wants to switch to being a Low Cost Carrier (LCC) doing scheduled flights etc!

The two market segments are poles apart – and it showed in their inaugural flight!

Strategic began as a freight broker back in 1991, shifting cargo around Australia. Easy number as freight doesn’t have an opinion nor does it talk back and most importantly, the freight hasn’t paid for the ticket – someone else has.

Then Strategic landed a lucky break in 2005 and began shifting Australian Defence Force freight and personnel to and from the Middle East. Again easy number, guaranteed payer in the government, freight as usual and military personnel that don’t talk back nor have they personally paid for the seat.

With the coffers full of easy money from the government, in 2009 Strategic decides to try its hand at fare paying passengers viz-a-vie package holiday punters (or charter) flights. The big thing here is that the flights have not been sourced separately but rather as part of the whole package. This allows the service provider (Strategic) a certain amount of leeway in their mode of delivery.

Now the big step forward.

Come last week, November 15th to be precise, Strategic closes its doors and immediately reopens as Air Australia BUT with one big difference – they are no longer a freight and charter concern, now they’re doing scheduled flights with individual fare paying passengers.

So how did they fare?

Dismally! Forget teething issues, forget first day faux pas – all that I can and do accept.

Air Australia is missing ONE vital ingredient – CUSTOMER SERVICE.

This is the one element of their business model that Strategic never had to deal with, having never really had ‘customers’ in the past. They never had to be polite to freight, they never had to deal with opinionated individuals (soldiers just do what they are told), they never had to repeat themselves 180 times (once for every passenger) and retain a certain level of civility. Basically Air Australia is out of its depth and liable to go under if something is not done quick.

Air Australia thinks that their singular Point of Difference (one free piece of baggage) will set them apart from the other LCC like Virgin and JetStar (although they claim not to be in competition with them). Air Australia also thinks that the ’100% Aussie Owned’ slogan will endear them to the Australian public.

Non of that will matter nor will it count for anything without Air Australia having a modicum of Customer Service.

I just hope that in all this re-branding and fanfare, someone has remembered to add a bit of customer service training into the budget otherwise it’ll all be for nothing. Strategic has lost it’s Defence Force contract and now wholly relies on this new Air Australia scheduled adventure for revenues. Without customer service, Air Australia will be going the same way as Tiger Air and making an early departure from Australia’s skies.

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One Response

  1. Well, well, well… what just happened to Air Australia..? 90 days and it’s all gone belly up! Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself, I could see the writing on the wall right from the get go, ‘no service – no business’ and sure enough they’ve gone belly up after only being in business for 3 months. When will everybody learn… business today is about selling service first and your product second!

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