Page 1: Introduction
Premium brands capture the public imagination when they stand out from the rest. Obvious examples are Earl Grey tea which connoisseurs recognise for its distinctive name, flavour and taste, Rolls-Royce for its pedigree of no-expense-spared luxury and Parker pens for their stylishness coupled with functionality.
Another premium brand that is widely respected in this country is Singapore Airlines (SIA) which is particularly well known for the quality of its product offering and excellence of service standards. Singapore Airlines’ customer service standards are symbolised by the distinctive uniform of its flight stewardess, a sarong kebaya in batik material designed by Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain, reflecting its Asian heritage.
In the modern service economy, it is frequently customer service that differentiates one product from another. A prime example is the airline business, where passengers may be travelling for many hours. During these periods people want to relax in comfort, knowing that their individual needs are being catered for. SIA aims to provide the best product for its passengers, plus the best customer service available. This case study highlights how SIA is achieving an advantage in the competitive airline industry.
After operating as Malaysian Airways and then as Malaysia-Singapore Airlines, SIA was officially launched in 1972. Today SIA’s network reaches out to 93 destinations in 42 countries, serving Asia, Europe, North America, the Middle East, the South West Pacific and Africa. Its regional airline subsidiary SilkAir serves 21 destinations in 8 countries. SIA has also created a number of strategic alliances with other major world airlines to serve other markets jointly.
Remarkably for the airline industry SIA owns all its aircraft, unlike many other airlines who lease a substantial part of their fleet. It also has one of the youngest fleets of any major airline, with an average age of just over five years.