Etihad Airlines is the national airlines of United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are many people travelling to the Middle East from different parts of the world and vice versa (O’Connell, 2011). Oil is exported from the Middle Eastern countries to various part of the world. All this income has been used by these countries to build infrastructure. These countries are now becoming major commercial centres and hotel and tourism industry has prospered in this region. These countries have learnt the art of business and engineering from the west and other Asian countries like India. These countries have started many business ventures including airlines like Etihad Airways which was formed in 2003 (Etihad.com, 2017).
An airline company basically is a service provider (Zimmerman and Blythe, 2013). It provides its customers with the facility of carrying them and their luggage from one place to another. Nowadays wealthy people and those belonging to the middle class travel by air. The customers from Europe, United States of America and Australia have greater amount of money to spend on travelling expenses. Etihad Airlines has also focused on these customers. A large proportion of people from these countries travel by business class. The passengers in the business class are willing to pay more for better services. But the question is why a passenger from a rich European country travel by Etihad Airways and not from a bigger and more advanced airline like British Airways. This is where it is a challenge for airlines like Etihad which are smaller in size to provide world class services.
Any business organization has to take decisions regarding the marketing mix it would offer to its customers (Mindtools.com, 2017). Marketing mix is a combination of seven P’s including product, price, physical distribution, promotion, people, process and physical environment. Etihad Airlines also offers unique basket of services to its customers. It has divided its seat offered on the airplanes into different classes, namely, residence, first class, business class and economy. The standard of service and amenities offered by the airline are best in the class known as the residence in which a three room suite is provided to the passengers (Etihad.com, 2017). There is a living room, separate bedroom and shower room provided to this class of passengers. There are high quality meals provided. A separate butler is also provided. In the first class an armchair and a bed is provided. All this helps to make the journey a very comfortable one.
In the business class of Etihad Airlines seats with more space are provided and also seats which are converted into flat beds at the push of some buttons. Moreover, they provide pillows and food and beverages managers are there to help the passengers decide what they should eat on the airplane.
Etihad Airlines provide on their airplanes touch screen televisions and wi fi connectivity for internet. Thus while on the plane the passengers need not feel bored and also do their business work. The economy class also has comfortable seats with sufficient leg space for the passengers. They can order their meals on the times they want. The seats can be reclined and pillows and blankets are also provided.
As far as places or destinations are concerned Etihad Airways operates flights to Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North and South Americas. There are several countries in each continent and several cities in each country where the Etihad Airlines plane fly to. A person can book a ticket by coming to the above destination airports or can also book a ticket making use of the internet at Etihad.com.
The tickets are priced by Etihad Airline for travelling on their planes on the basis of the destinations and also different classes like economy, business or the residence. The costing for these tickets is done on the basis of a number of factors like the services provided to each class of passengers (Zimmerman and Blythe, 2013). The airline earned a net profit of over hundred million US dollars in 2015. The number of passengers have been increasing year on year for several years. As the airline is increasing the number of destinations and also the capacity to each of the destination, it is earning more revenues and also is now having more cost synergies which mean better profit margins possibility (Gaggero and Piga, 2011).
Etihad Airlines have been advertising in the print media. It also has a website and has been publishing a detailed annual report. There are advertisements about the airline on television in several countries of the world.
The management of the airline consists of people from United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia, Switzerland and also the middle eastern countries. More and more people from the middle east are forming part of its managerial and technical staff. The airline flies a young fleet of aircrafts which are from Airbus Industries and Boeing company. The environment in which the airline operates is modern and sophisticated and technologically driven.
At the Abu Dhabi airport, the handling of the baggage of the passengers is done completely by Etihad Airlines (Fu, Homsombat and Oum, 2011). The airline promises efficient handling of the customer luggage by its staff but there have been instances with the airline where the customer baggage has been delayed or lost and the airline has even refused to compensate the customer who complained that checked in baggage has been lost by the airline. The Etihad.com gives the information that if any passenger of Etihad Airlines does not get any information about such lost baggage for twenty one days, the claim would be processed but in reality such a claim sometimes does not get positive response (Etihad.com, 2017).
The major airlines of the world more or less follow the same process where the customer brings the luggage the individual wants to travel with to the airport. The baggage is then weighed and customer is charged for the baggage according to the airline rates. The luggage has to pass through the security check also (Ringle, Sarstedt and Zimmermann, 2011). Then the luggage is deposited with the airline. A luggage handler of the airline then carries the luggage and another employee puts the luggage in the aircraft. If any of the employee is corrupt the luggage can be stolen away. The record of the luggage is made in the computer of the airline which can also be manipulated. This has been happening to some extent at the facilities of the airline, there have been complaints of such sort.
The services of the airline are not what it shows at its website or in the media (Clow and Baack, 2012). There is need for improvement on the part of the airline which has installed sophisticated machinery at Abu Dhabi Airport for passengers baggage handling. But the problem is that at many other airports around the world the baggage of the passengers travelling by the airline is not handled completely by the airline employees. Some other companies are looking after the passenger baggage handling operations due to which customer baggage has been lost completely or has got delayed.
Etihad Airlines has been training its pilots well and most of its airplanes are new and in good condition. But not all of its airplanes are in perfect condition that is why some of them had to undergo major maintenance in 2013 as given in the annual report of the company. some of them got cabin replacements and making arrangement for wi fi connections for the passengers. Thus this refutes the claims of the airline in its website that all its airplanes are new and in perfect condition (Clow and Baack, 2012). There have been complaints by some passengers of the airline that their flight was horrible and there was lot of turbulence and the aircraft did not seem to be in the top condition. Otherwise, the pilots were not efficient enough (Ji et al., 2011).
It has been given in the publications by Etihad Airline that it has been recruiting lot of pilots from top airlines of the world many of them directly appointed as captains. The airline has made adequate arrangements for continuous training of its pilots and has also installed six flight simulators at its Abu Dhabi training facility. Pilots are also humans some turbulence in the aircraft does not mean that the pilots are indeed inefficient. But if a flight was consistently, disturbing, any complaint from the passengers needs to be looked into by the management of the airline with all seriousness (Martin, 2010).
The airline claim to offer food to its passenger which is of five star quality. This is true to a great extent in case of the business or residence class of its passengers. In the case of economy class of the passengers this does not seem to be true. The food is of poor quality according to some passengers and is also inadequate (Clow and Baack, 2012). The airline wants to be world’s leading airline and if this is true the airline would lose many points so far as popularity with the masses is concerned.
There are thousands of passengers who travel from Asian countries to UAE. Many of them travel by the economy class. They provide business in bulk to the airline. If they are left unsatisfied this would harm the business of the airline a great deal. All the advertisements in the print media and on the internet and television would fail if the realities on the ground are not good. The advertisements would appear hollow to consumers if such complaints increase and they know in reality Etihad airline is not as good as it claims (Murel and O'Connell, 2011). The rise in number of its passengers could also be due to the fact that incomes of the people are increasing and more of them also travel by air also due to the increase in other business activities in the region. Nowadays information travels fast and bad publicity for any organization is not good for its business (Zimmerman and Blythe, 2013). Just as good advertising brings more business, bad publicity results in lost business. Moreover there are other airlines like the Emirates Airways which are stiff competitors of Etihad Airlines and which would benefit from the lowering service standards of the latter.
Etihad Airlines is offering international class services with Arabian hospitality. This has made the airline acquire a unique place in the market. It has employees from different countries and its top management is from people who have been educated in Europe and the United States of America.
The airline has aircrafts and equipment from leading companies of the world. Its employees are trained well (Martin, 2010). The company advertises these facts aggressively. This has helped it to win customers in Australia and the Americas. Passengers feel they are in safe hands and safety is of prime importance in the airline business (Ji et al., 2011). The advertising slogan of Etihad Airline ‘The world is our home. You are our guest’ aptly describes the airline which flies to different continents and on the whole treats its customers as its guests. But there is scope for improvement the customer service of the airline can improve. The complaints of the customer should be promptly looked into. The food in the economy class should also improve in many cases. There is always scope for improving the training of staff and safety measures.
There are also a lot of passengers of Etihad Airways from the Indian subcontinent. They feel more at home with the airline because the airline provides Indian food and the culture of the Middle East is very similar to that of the people from the Indian subcontinent. The staff of Etihad Airlines is also composed of many people from the Middle East and there is affinity between people from Asia. This factor has also made Etihad win over more passengers. People from Asia feel that it is their own airline.
It is not easy to run an airline. There are lot of expenses like fuel costs, salaries and maintenance charges. The consumers have become more demanding, new technology driven services are costly, but have to be provided. Etihad Airlines has been making profits. An airline from the Middle East country doing so well against the older airlines from advanced countries is commendable (O'Connell and Bueno, 2016). This has been made possible by the efforts of the well trained staff who have preserved the Arabian identity and made a respectable distinct place for the airline in the market.
Clow, K. And Baack, D. (2012) Cases In Marketing Management. UK: SAGE.
Etihad. Com (2017) Corporate Profile. Available at: https://www.etihad.com/en-in/about-us/corporate-profile/
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Etihad.com (2017) The Residence. Available at: https://www.etihad.com/en-in/experience-etihad/flying-reimagined/the-residence/
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O’Connell, J. (2011) The Rise Of The Arabian Gulf Carriers: An Insight Into The Business Model Of Emirates Airline, Journal of Air Transport Management, vol 17(6), pp.339-346. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969699711000160
O'Connell, J. and Bueno, O. (2016) A Study Into The Hub Performance Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways And Their Competitive Position Against The Major European Hubbing Airlines, Journal of Air Transport Management. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969699716300849
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