Airlines Experiment With Niche Marketing
As the airlines
continue a slow recovery in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the
resulting industry-wide slump, passengers are starting to fly
again. The question for airline executives is, what do they want
and what will they pay for?
The answer is still in the works. Several different airlines are
taking new approaches to the question -- and finding some rather
Take, for instance, the world's largest airline, American.
Business travelers headed from Boston (MA) to Manchester, England,
recently found something missing from their flight: business
It's American's latest experiment in niche marketing. Figuring
that most people on that route at this time of year are tourists
looking for a good time and not willing to pay big fees for it,
American is trying a single-class configuration that might remind
you of a low-cost carrier like Southwest.
Other airlines are going the other way, instituting a single
all-business class of service. The New York Times reports Lufthansa
and Singapore Airlines are doing just that. In fact, Air France has
spun off a new carrier called "Dedicate," aimed specifically at
engineers and executives in the oil industry.
"For the first time, airlines are sitting down and looking at
their assets, and trying to figure out the best way to deploy
them," said Darin Lee, senior managing economist with LECG, in an
interview with the Times. He says the lines between traditional
legacy carriers and low-cost carriers is starting to blur.
Chicago-based ATA plans to add a business class. Ireland's
Ryanair is rerouting its flights in hopes of saving hundreds of
thousands of dollars on each aircraft. Delta's spinoff, Song, is
appealing to women, figuring they plan most family trips and make
up the majority of leisure travelers.
"Once you win the hearts of women, you know they'll talk about
it," said Joanne Smith, vice president for Song's marketing.
"They'll become evangelists for the brand."