The Covid-19 pandemic is an infectious illness caused by a coronavirus. With the pandemic’s effects globally, governments are focused on suggesting ways of curbing and mitigating the virus’s spread. Social distancing and quarantine seem to be the significant measures adopted by many countries. The cost of living has also risen with people being forced to add other expenses in their regular budgets; for instance, face masks and hand sanitizers are mandatory and must be included in the budget.
A reduced number of passengers have been experienced because of the containment measures introduced by relevant authorities. Due to the rapid spread of the virus, most governments have ordered flight bans and reduced international flights (Chinazzi et al., 2020). The implication is decreased revenues across the various economic sectors, leading to loss of jobs. Despite the establishment of post-Covid-19 strategies for the aviation industry, it has been impacted dramatically by the pandemic, which caused significant losses. The airline sector’s recovery requires assessing the appropriate strategies, documentation of plans and goals, and implementing the proper approach to extend market share and attract customers.
Emirates is the largest airline in the United Arab Emirates. Its operations have been suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic since the airline has endured challenges, ranging from competition from rival industries to operation difficulties. Successes and challenges related to the Emirates airline are attributed to specific internal or external factors, including the working environment.
SWOT Analysis of Emirates Airline
The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threat (SWOT) is a tool used to account for factors impacting a particular company, as well as risks and favourable aspects (Gurel, 2017). A SWOT analysis on the Emirates airline shows that while the airline’s position and logistics are aligned, it may be struggling with internal challenges. The following study investigates Emirates’ internal strengths and weaknesses and the external opportunities and threats affecting its strategies, decisions, and operations.
Strategic Positioning of Emirates Airlines
Location is crucial in business, especially when it involves direct contact with clients. Corporation’s position impacts operations, as well as customer base, considering the implications of demography to market segmentation. An enterprise should be situated where customers can conveniently access it. The Emirates airline headquarters or strategic operation zone is located at a central point, connecting the east and the west, hence the convenience regarding air travel. Additionally, the developing economies are strategically extending operations from the Middle East to South East Asia and Africa. The airline’s immediate success can be attributed to its ambitious strategy coupled with its geographical facilitators, which allow it to seize opportunities and offer customers quick access to services.
Continuous Improvement of Services
Emirates airline is well known for its market trends and new revolutionary ideas. For instance, there are fixed entertainment systems in every passenger’s seat, which have evolved over the years. Previously, entertainment was in the form of drinks and foodstuff but later replaced by projector movie videos. Sooner, audio players and headphones were installed to enhance the customer experience. Recently, private screens were created for each passenger to personalize entertainment activities. The airline has also introduced mobile gadgets on board, enabling communication between passengers and the outside world. The continued improvement of services in the air allows Emirates to outdo competitors.
Better Customer Service
Most of the satisfied customers become loyal to the company and its brand. Emirates Airlines has distinguished customer service, which has helped the company gain a competitive advantage. The agents working in the airport or call centres maintain professional conduct while in handling customers. The support team ensures that they address baggage concerns, reservation of flights, scheduling changes, and customer program questions.
Too Much Focus on Service Renewals
The airline focuses on its high-end diversification, leading to confusion among its staff and customers. The continuous renewal of services means continuously training to familiarize themselves with the new processes and updates (Al Redha, n.d.). On the other hand, clients prefer steady and conversant procedures, as well as processes. However, continuous renewal of services in short terms affect the customer experience as they may be required to adjust to a new system in a short period. Some may even opt for competitor services as they are supposed to learn using new tools, procedures, and services, making the travelling cumbersome.
Use of Technology in the Airline
Technological advancement is one of the opportunities that the company should utilize. Applications range from check-in to entertainment, such as installing access points in the plane and technologically enhanced methods for check-in. Passengers are entitled to be updated regarding flights rescheduling, as well as having access to online self-service platforms, where they can book, reschedule, or process payments. Technological innovation can also enable express bag drops and self-bag labelling. Such applications of technology can be enacted to increase the operational efficiency at Emirates.
Growing New Markets
Emirates Airlines can penetrate new markets due to its operational capacity, facilities, and convenient routes. Expanding is a significant opportunity for the Emirates, given its global presence and popularity. Additionally, the carrier is one of the most dependable and established globally, hence more reliable due to the transit’s flexibility aspects. Since the corporation is already accepted and has an award for having the best in-flight entertainment, penetrating new markets is easier than for most other airlines.
Competition from Rival Airlines
The fragmentation of the market by other airlines has increased competition to Emirates airlines. British Airways and Qatar Airways are major airlines competing with the Emirates, taking into account the countries’ proximity from which the flights are routed. The failure of Emirates to actively participate in innovations and extension to new regions implies reduced competitive advantage and decreased revenue.
The Environment of Their Countries of Operation
Local and regional political settings may pose significant threats to airline operations (Al Redha, n.d.). Therefore, Emirates must examine the political landscape, considering the unstable regions in the Middle East. Operations in such countries may be subject to air space restrictions, travel advisories, or sanctions. Evaluating these operational areas assists in addressing the corresponding challenges, as well as developing a framework for operation in case of legal and political barriers.
Emirate’s Response to Covid-19 Pandemic
Emirates airlines should recognize the operational areas, scope, and market that enable the company to have a competitive advantage over the rest of the airlines. SWOT analysis aids in the identification of opportunities that would add value to the airline operations, as well as implement a differentiation strategy (“Emirates Step Up,” 2020). Given the travel measures associated with Covid-19, the airline created a comprehensive operational plan based on logistical modelling for air travel. The corporation implemented adaptive measures in alignment with travelling trends as influenced by Covid-19 containment measures.
Emirates amended its operating schedule. Such amendments include cancelling flights to different destinations and reducing frequencies of travel. The pandemic outbreak caused most countries to enact travel restrictions and ban entry of foreigners to their countries. Consequently, the air travel industry player had to adjust their operations, as well as schedules (Al Redha, n.d.). Reduced travels implied low demand for travel services; hence the organization had to introduce unique leaves for their employees. A negative growth has been recorded by the Emirates, despite the strategic response to the outbreak.
Emirates Airlines implemented protocols to safeguard its customers during the global pandemic. Service providers’ associated Emirates terminals across the world suffer losses whenever the number of clients is reduced. Subsequently, the focus is to work together with partners who support the airline operation and ensure sustainability amid the pandemic. Since passengers are the backbone of these businesses, they must be safeguarded with the appropriate Covid-19 containment measures as they travel using the carrier. On the same note, aircraft cleaning and disinfection of cabins have been incorporated into the standard airline practices. The Emirates implements guidelines as recommended by the World Health Organisation to maintain hygiene, as well as minimize the spread of coronavirus. Additionally, tangible items, such as magazines and print materials, have been withdrawn from the carrier. Cabin baggage has also been minimized on flights, reducing allowed items to a baby briefcase, laptop, or handbags.
Protective barriers have also been installed to reduce unnecessary contact among the passengers (Gurel, 2017). At the check desks, employees, as well as customers, are required to maintain social distance to minimize the coronavirus transmission. Emirates has also adjusted its inflight facilities as required by the established safety standards for air travel. Similarly, foodstuff and beverages are packaged in bento-style boxes, which prevent physical contact between passengers and the crew, hence reducing infection risk. (“Emirates Steps Up,” 2020). All customers must wear hand gloves and face masks and maintain the required social distance at all times. On arrival, the aircraft must be cleaned and disinfected before the next passenger’s board.
The inboard seats are pre-allocated with unoccupied seats between individual passengers, hence maintaining a one-meter distance between them. The same is observed in queues, as well as other boarding protocols, including in the waiting bay to ensure passengers keep social distance during check-in and boarding (Chinnazi et al., 2020). Thermal scanners are also used to measure the temperature of the passengers and crews.
Reactivation of Emirates Fleet
Following the continued reopening of traveller flights globally, the Emirates and Fly Dubai, Dubai-based airlines, have reinforced their partnership. It will provide customers with improved connectivity to their destinations, much convenience, and travel flexibility (“Emirates and FlyDubai,” 2020). The health, as well as the safety of employees and passengers, are among the airline’s top priorities in serving customers (“Emirates Steps Up,” 2020). Training of staff is ongoing as they require refresher lessons on how to interact with customers safely.
The A380 is a fleet designed for private suits, flatbed seats, and in-flight Wi-Fi, among other features. According to Imat (2020), before the pandemic, the A380 passenger plane’s manufacturing had been initiated. However, Airbus announced that there would be a permanent halt in the fleet’s production due to a lack of orders from the target airlines. It is unclear whether the manufacturing of this fleet will occur, given the low demand for travel services, as well as losses accrued by airlines across the world. Nevertheless, its production is associated with travelling convenience, as well as its environmental friendliness.
AirAsia X Airline
The AirAsia X Airline is based in Malaysia and started operating in November 2007. It was created to offer cheaper alternatives to flight from Malaysia to Australia. It is classified under the long haul low-cost airline. AirAsia X charges lower fares, but it is less comfortable, thus lowering its operation cost. Long haul low-cost carriers have to operate in significant monetary risk because of minimal profit margin. Globally AirAsia X is considered to have the lowest operation price compared with major airlines (Tariq, n.d.). Long haul and low-cost flights traced their origin to 1977 when Laker Airways produced the kind’s first service. Unfortunately, it did not last long due to inefficiency in fuel consumption, weak business models, and a lack of significant technologies.
The idea of long haul low cost has gained popularity because of its association with operation costs. The drawbacks of the previous model have been eradicated over time as technology advances (Bahari, 2019). For instance, most of the operations are automatic, and modern business models’ application increases operational efficiency. AirAsia X airline offers low ticket fees since it does not have extra services, such as beverages or entertainment. There is a growing market for Asia’s service following rapid increase in the agriculture, technology, and manufacturing sectors. Most flight operators have begun offering long haul flights due to the demand, hence a greater competitive market. Due to this industry’s growth, it is emerging, implying that AirAsia X airline will have to upgrade its services to cope with the market forces.
Current Activities in AirAsia X Airline
AirAsia X airline has been partially dormant in offering flight services due to Covid-19 effects on air travel. Its reservations systems remain closed until 31 October 2020 (Tariq, n.d.). However, competition among long-haul flight service providers prompted the company to develop strategic plans for finance and operations. The strategy’s success will ensure that the organization retains its position as a top long-haul flight service provider.
Currently, the airline is offering alternatives to customers whose flights were cancelled. It is returning the funds to the booking agents, who are then supposed to refer their customers. Passengers who booked flights at the airline can choose their preferred travel dates without additional costs (Tariq, n.d.). Alternatively, the passenger may opt to retain the ticket in the member account and use it to redeem a flight later within two years of the calendar since the date of the issue.
Another action established by AirAsia X concerns interacting with its customers. The airline has maintained links with its customers, a strategy for strong returns (Sukati, Ban Khiang and Isnurhadi, 2015). The company has websites for communicating with passengers, informing them about their latest travel policies, as well as those of the government. With their client support systems, the airline can receive customer requests and respond to them.
Steps towards Successful Resumption of the AirAsia X Airline
Open More Route Options
Although AirAsia X has the largest fleet in Asia, it should introduce news routes. For instance, the Middle East and Europe air travel could be suitable for long-haul flights. Plans are underway to start a direct route from Kuala Lumpur to Kazakhstan (Bahari, 2019). In the past, the airline faced some financial challenges and stiff competition to the extent of withdrawal from some routes, including London, Mumbai, and New Delhi. Such downfalls should not influence the creation of new routers negatively.
Make Use of the First-Mover Advantage
AirAsia X can be deemed a role model in the long-haul flight, having survived financial and operational challenges. The company utilizes a dynamic business model that is highly efficient and flexible, which enables it to yield more profits. On the contrary, most airlines have remained unsuccessful in retaining and managing long-haul flights for a long time (Bahari, 2019). AirAsia X should utilize its broad customer base to use the old reservations as the stepping stone to resume operations.
Reducing Prices to Customers
The airline operates under very minimal costs, considering it does not offer luxurious services such as entertainment or snacks. This cost-efficient model is paramount to gaining competitive advantage, as well as extending market share. Suppose the airline reduces air tickets to be lower than its competitors. It would be better placed to attract many customers, a critical step for post-pandemic recovery.
Create Crisis Management Protocols
In response to the pandemic’s challenges, the airline should create a crisis management team to control levels of hygiene and safety (Chinnazi et al., 2020). Cleaning and sanitization of the crafts should be ongoing procedures. A crisis management team should be consolidated with developing a communication plan, accessing crisis preparedness techniques, and addressing health and safety steps.
AirAsia X Airline Priorities as Operations Resume
A significant number of businesses have been closed while social life is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Airlines globally are struggling to survive in the aviation industry. Furthermore, revenue will have decreased tremendously by the time flights resume. Considering this situation, AirAsia X airline should enact 4-C tactics.
Communication is a fundamental technique that should be prioritized in ensuring success in the running of operations. The stakeholders and management teams should ensure communication among themselves. This component is relevant since the airline’s objectives have to be communicated regularly to ensure informed decision making, collaboration, as well as cooperation (Benz, 2020). For crisis management and high chances for success, all stakeholders must be involved at every stage.
To better deal with customer relationships, as well as loyalty, it is imperative to note the priority areas, which are fundamental to maintaining relevant relationships. According to Sukati Ban Khiang and Isnurhadi (2015), customers share their experiences, which influence their attachment to a particular brand. Since verbal communication as well as referrals are considered critical for influencing consumers, it is imperative to prevent occurrences that would result in negative utterances regarding the airline.
Currently, most AirAsia X employees are on leave due to the disruption of air travel by the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the fundamental components for increasing capacity entails purchasing the relevant tools, as well as the repair and maintenance of machines, including planes. Reassessment of customers’ needs is essential to the comprehension and adjustments required to create the enhanced capacity to serve customers. As the airline improve its facilities, considerations for employees’ capacities enhancement should be established (Sukati Ban Khiang and Isnurhadi,, 2015). Training is one of the basic components from which personnel capacity can be enhanced to ensure advanced skills for handling customers, as well as other activities.
Benz (2020) advises managers in the aviation industry to run airports in skeleton mode. Managers should use the opportunities to draft a start-over plan to be used in the resumption of operations. Operational procedures should be well documented to support the return for air travel seamlessly. Such practices guarantee post-pandemic vital functions and guided leadership to facilitate the achievement of AirAsia X goals. Thus, the return to regular air travel operations requires planning, as well as documentation of the relevant procedures.
Covid-19 pandemic has adversely impacted the global economy, with the aviation facing dire consequences. Containment measures to control the virus from spreading further are underway. The epidemic has also led to poor economic performance due to the disruption of critical activities. Post-Covid recovery for aviation requires the assessment of the industry players’ capabilities, as well as the framework for a return to normal operations. Industry players, such as AirAsia X and Emirates, should implement strategic plans for extending their operational capabilities and market share. Besides, the airport procedures and processes should be documented to ensure seemly operations.
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Bahari, B. (2019) Airasia X plans for direct flights into Kazakhstan. Web.
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Chinazzi, M. et al.. (2020) ‘The effect of travel restrictions on the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’, Science, 368(6489), pp. 395–400.
Gurel, E. (2017) SWOT analysis: a theoretical review. Journal of International Social Research, 10(51), pp. 994–1006.
Imat, B. (2020) Emirates president says the airline will revive its airbus A380 Fleet Web.
Sukati, I., Ban Khiang, T. and Isnurhadi, D. (2015) ‘Customer satisfaction level provided by Air Asia’, Asian Social Science, 11(13).
Tariq, N. (no date) Long haul low cost carrier (LHLC) – example of Air Asia X. Web.