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Imperative of partnership, customer satisfaction to airline success

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Until local airlines scale-up their services, put the customer first and value partnership in operations, they may continue to have slim chances of success and longer lifespan.

The Executive Vice President, Flight Operations and Captain B737 of Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), Vincent van Hooff, who disclosed this, said the air travel business is tough globally, and the reason operators must be strategic and dynamic in their business plans.

Hooff told The Guardian recently in Lagos that KLM, which marks it centenary this month, had profited from partnerships and alliances to grow the business.

He said the most important for aviation success is to put the customer first and be where the customers are.

He noted that in the case of KLM, the national carrier of Netherlands, “the goal was to take the country – a small nation in the middle of bigger ones – to the world and bring the world to Netherlands through quality service.”

The second is the importance of partnerships “because an airline cannot operate alone.”

“So, in 1997, we started partnering and later consolidated with Air France. By establishing and expanding our network, we connect the world, right from our home base in Amsterdam, with more than 160 destinations today.

“In the past century, the world has changed drastically, and change will remain a constant factor. We have turned 100 years old by seizing opportunities, taking up challenges, connecting with partners, and embracing new technologies.

“Aviation provides an important contribution to the Dutch economy. As the third largest private employer in the Netherlands, KLM is closely linked to its surroundings. That is something to be both proud of and prudent with,” Hooff said.

The success notwithstanding, the Vice President added that plans had commenced for another 100 years, with business sustainability anchored on the fly responsibly campaign and investment in environment-friendly biofuel.

The airline was setup by Albert Plesman on October 7, 1919 and started operations on May 19, 1920. It is the world’s first airline still operating under its original name 100 years on. KLM, with 168 aircraft, serves two domestic and 133 international destinations in 66 countries. The airline operates daily into Lagos.

General Manager of AirFrance-KLM, Nigeria and West Africa, Michel Colleau, said the goal of operation in Nigeria was to accompany the economic growth of the country.

Colleau observed that KLM added Lagos to its route network in 1961, and had been providing service between Nigeria and the Netherlands since then, recording about 400,000 passengers yearly.

He added with the stable traffic and increasing by two per cent, “we want to increase our capacity on Lagos-Amsterdam and Paris routes.

KLM President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Pieter Elbers, said further that the landmark achievement represents a century of successful enterprise, innovation, commerce, and also to the faith that customers and partners have in KLM.

“We were the first airline to successfully pursue partnerships and alliances, after which many other countries and airlines followed our example. This has brought together hundreds of millions of people around the globe. As Albert Plesman put it: ‘the ocean of the air unites all people.’

“We may take pride in our long list of achievements and efforts over the past 100 years. And so we stand – energetic and confident – on the threshold of a new century. Filled with the same pioneering and enterprising spirit, we look forward, with optimism, to taking on the challenges of sustainability and innovation,” he said.


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