Why airports and airlines should stay passenger-centric during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The aviation industry is one of the industries most affected by the corona crisis. The number of passengers dropped dramatically, to figures from over a decade ago. Airlines and Airports are forced to switch to survival mode. Although it is still important, to make sure passengers feel no less welcome than before the COVID-19 Pandemic.
As the Corona crisis first hit the aviation industry, airlines immediately cut into their flying schedule. Instead of multiple flights, a day between 2 cities, this was reduced to just one or two a day. At the same time, multiple routes were temporarily or permanently closed. At airports, terminals or parts of terminals were closed to answer the fallen demand in air travel. All measures which do not hurt the relationship between the airport, the airlines, and their passengers.
Most passengers that are flying during the pandemic, are passengers that were flying on a regularly basis, also before the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, frequent flyers, who are often loyal to one or more airlines. These passengers demand high standards and expect to get the pre COVID-19 standards where possible. These passengers constitute a substantial group that will always have the need to fly.
Lowering standards unnecessarily is creating a lot of distrust between the passengers and the airline or airport. That distrust can lead to a decreased passenger loyalty and could cause a drop in passenger numbers for that particular airline or airport, even when the crisis is long over. Saving money on your customers service makes passengers more likely to consider other options. This is true for the occasional traveler, but also especially for frequent flyers who are likely to keep flying. You don’t want these to be taken away by competitors, who keep their standards high. As the saying says: “In times of crisis we find out who our true friends are”.
A crisis not only brings difficulties, but it is also a time full of opportunities. If you manage to exceed passenger expectations, you can bind passengers who were loyal to another airline or airport. A positive review, a comment on social media, can also influence other travelers.
In conclusion, even though in crisis, cuts and savings are inevitable, it is still highly important to stay passenger-centric, as the benefits outweigh the costs on when viewed in the long term. In the aviation sector competition is fierce, even in times of crisis. If an airport or an airline takes the wrong decisions, it will cost them even more in the long run.