Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, April 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
COMMENT: What”s In a Name?
It is seven years since a Douglas DC-9 crashed in the Florida Everglades killing all 110 people on board and highlighting serious deficiencies with the carrier concerned, ValuJet, one of the first of the now numerous, so called, low cost or budget airlines.
It could only happen in America, but what was the remedy? Re-brand the airline forget about the past, and take off under a new image. Bring in experienced management and phase out the old aircraft and senior executives. Today a new generation of travelling public will have hardly heard of ValuJet and the investigation that followed the tragedy. What it revealed, and the litigation, has for the most part been forgotten. Whether that is fair on those who were hurt emotionally because of the crash, or damaged in their pockets, is another matter.
AirTran is seen now as one of the best of the new breed of no frills carriers, making a profit for the fifth consecutive quarter and placing an order that is quite frankly a life blood for Boeing. The airline last month placed an order for 50 new Boeing 737s and an option for 50 more and ordered up to 10 Boeing 717s for which it was the launch customer. Unlike most of its kind it also offers a business class.
Hubbing out of Atlanta AirTran now offers 492 flights a day to 45 cities and plans to launch into three to five new cities each year. In 2003 the airline began flying to Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and will add Ronald Reagan Washington National and San Francisco to its schedule later in the year. AirTran officials say they plan to expand into new markets, most likely the West Coast and Midwest.
It could be argued that crashes destroyed Pan Am, TWA and some years earlier Air Florida, for those who have forgotten, the airline whose 737 crashed into the wintry Potomac in Washington DC.
The point is does re-branding work, or would ValueJet have continued given the same set of marketing conditions and the same change of management?
Could it happen this side of the water?
Would Dan Air be here today if its shipping orientated senior management (and the ”company doctor” who followed) had the courage to rename the airline ”FlyDan” or perhaps ”Dan.com”. FLyBe has been Spacegrand, Jersey European, JEA and British European with the same ownership. It seems to be flourishing under the current label. British Midland has become BMi; Sabena, SN Brussels and of course Swissair controversially SWISS. Air Southwest decided not to use the Brymon name after declining an offer from BA. It has somehow to make an impact. And outside Devon and Cornwall too!
Which brings us to British Airways. Does it require an update? It”s had some difficult recent times. The Chatham tail fin still looks good and bright. BA is as fine a pair of two letters that one can think of (and is easy to type on a computer ” other companies please note ” so is ABTN). Coca Cola is as it ever was and Ford stays with the same blue product logo in spite of some very modern cars.
Perhaps the answer is sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. In truth the success of an airline is not the name. It”s the people behind the name.