SAA management improvement points

Old Dec 14, 15, 3:27 pm
  #1  
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SAA management improvement points

Few things I noticed that SAA can fix right away (low lying fruit)

1. Introduce more codeshares and fares that partner with carriers. For example, when one searches a flight from TPE-JNB, nothing comes up. Instead, there is a connecting flight on Cathay Pacific that comes up. Search another date and there is a 15 hour connection with EVA Air. Why? SAA should partner with EVA Air (Star Alliance) to get a proper fare going. SAA can really increase ridership and sales by establishing proper fares to connecting destinations and codeshare flights with their Star Alliance partners.

2. Introduce more flights to destinations that do not require a visa - for South Africans and for the foreign national of the destination. It baffles me how SAA flies to destinations where visa is required for both countries (e.g. Beijing, Abu Dhabi). It's much easier to sell a ticket to people where there are no visa restrictions for both outbound passengers and inbound passengers.

3. Get a better grip on sales and revenue management - It always appears to me that SAA is losing the war on revenue management against other airlines. For example, flew LHR-JNB last week on SAA - it was not full. Yet SAA is always priced high. They need to ramp this up and increase ridership. The game isn't about providing the best service, but about providing the best ticket option.

4. Get premium economy class - It baffles me why there are so many business class seats but no premium economy. Most SAA foreign destinations are long-haul and there would be a market for premium economy.
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Old Dec 15, 15, 1:22 am
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Originally Posted by cooleddie View Post
Few things I noticed that SAA can fix right away (low lying fruit)

1. Introduce more codeshares and fares that partner with carriers. For example, when one searches a flight from TPE-JNB, nothing comes up. Instead, there is a connecting flight on Cathay Pacific that comes up. Search another date and there is a 15 hour connection with EVA Air. Why? SAA should partner with EVA Air (Star Alliance) to get a proper fare going. SAA can really increase ridership and sales by establishing proper fares to connecting destinations and codeshare flights with their Star Alliance partners.

2. Introduce more flights to destinations that do not require a visa - for South Africans and for the foreign national of the destination. It baffles me how SAA flies to destinations where visa is required for both countries (e.g. Beijing, Abu Dhabi). It's much easier to sell a ticket to people where there are no visa restrictions for both outbound passengers and inbound passengers.

3. Get a better grip on sales and revenue management - It always appears to me that SAA is losing the war on revenue management against other airlines. For example, flew LHR-JNB last week on SAA - it was not full. Yet SAA is always priced high. They need to ramp this up and increase ridership. The game isn't about providing the best service, but about providing the best ticket option.

4. Get premium economy class - It baffles me why there are so many business class seats but no premium economy. Most SAA foreign destinations are long-haul and there would be a market for premium economy.
Excellent suggestions, now if only we could get the new finance minister, Mr Pravin Gordon to see this........
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Old Dec 15, 15, 8:42 am
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Originally Posted by cooleddie View Post
1. Introduce more codeshares and fares that partner with carriers. For example, when one searches a flight from TPE-JNB, nothing comes up. Instead, there is a connecting flight on Cathay Pacific that comes up. Search another date and there is a 15 hour connection with EVA Air. Why? SAA should partner with EVA Air (Star Alliance) to get a proper fare going. SAA can really increase ridership and sales by establishing proper fares to connecting destinations and codeshare flights with their Star Alliance partners.
SAA has an extensive codeshare network. It cannot codeshare to any destination in Taiwan since South Africa no longer has an official diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, and therefore doesn't have a Bilateral Air Services Agreement anymore.

Originally Posted by cooleddie View Post
2. Introduce more flights to destinations that do not require a visa - for South Africans and for the foreign national of the destination. It baffles me how SAA flies to destinations where visa is required for both countries (e.g. Beijing, Abu Dhabi). It's much easier to sell a ticket to people where there are no visa restrictions for both outbound passengers and inbound passengers.
Which counties specifically should they then fly to? They no longer fly to Beijing, and Abu Dhabi has almost entirely a hub/transit route which doesn't require any visas for transit. Many of SAA's route network is to countries which don't have visa requirements (in either direction), i.e. Brazil, Hong Kong, and many African countries.


Originally Posted by cooleddie View Post
3. Get a better grip on sales and revenue management - It always appears to me that SAA is losing the war on revenue management against other airlines. For example, flew LHR-JNB last week on SAA - it was not full. Yet SAA is always priced high. They need to ramp this up and increase ridership. The game isn't about providing the best service, but about providing the best ticket option.
Most airlines need to improve sales and revenue management, SAA probably needs it a little more. That said, full aircraft doesn't imply profitable, and empty aircraft doesn't imply poor revenue management. That said, SAA are suffering on London not because of pricing but because of a lack of connecting network on the London end. London as a destination has been in decline for SAA ever since the demise of BMI.

Originally Posted by cooleddie View Post
4. Get premium economy class - It baffles me why there are so many business class seats but no premium economy. Most SAA foreign destinations are long-haul and there would be a market for premium economy.
The calculus that an airline must make with respect to premium economy is whether premium economy will cannibalize business class passengers or economy class passengers (basically, will travelers trade down more than trading up, or vice versa). There are many airlines which are doing very well without implementing premium economy because they believe that premium economy will cannibalize business class more than economy class. The glimpse for SAA is that the airlines which are hurting them (think Emirates) don't have premium economy. They have been explicit about considering premium economy for their new fleet, but that doesn't meant they will do it or whether it'll be the right move.
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Old Dec 16, 15, 7:35 am
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Originally Posted by evanb View Post
SAA has an extensive codeshare network. It cannot codeshare to any destination in Taiwan since South Africa no longer has an official diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, and therefore doesn't have a Bilateral Air Services Agreement anymore.
They don't need to codeshare if they don't want to. BR (Eva Air) is part of Star Alliance, and they can partner up with them on fares instead of relying on Cathay Pacific to do the connecting flight.
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Old Dec 16, 15, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by cooleddie View Post
They don't need to codeshare if they don't want to. BR (Eva Air) is part of Star Alliance, and they can partner up with them on fares instead of relying on Cathay Pacific to do the connecting flight.
No, in order to codeshare on a route to or from Taiwan there would need to be a Bilateral Air Services Agreement between the South African and Taiwanese government. There isn't one, and there can't be one since South Africa doesn't diplomatically recognize Taiwan.

SA can and do offer interline tickets with China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, EVA Air and Hong Kong Airlines from Hong Kong to Taipei. They cannot legally codeshare with any airline between Hong Kong and Taipei.
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Old Jan 7, 16, 1:58 pm
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A few suggestions on improvement opportunities that I would add, more targeted towards the in-flight service:
- Replace J pillows more often. The J pillows on recent flights were very lumpy and clearly showing their age.
- More substantial meals and in-flight snack option. For an 11+ hour flight, there is usually ~9 hours between meal services. The meals in J were generally quite tasty, but some of the portions were small and I found myself hungry between meal services (as an example, I had the "rack of lamb" on a recent JNB-FRA, which was only literally only 2 chops and 2-3 bites of meat).
- Would also suggest at least having a snack basket available between meal services.
If someone is able to sleep the full time between meal services, then they likely won't need a mid-flight snack. But for those that may not be sleeping for the full duration, the ~9 hours between services is a long time, it's likely that you'll get quite hungry.
- Proactively offer water service between meal services. I find the SAA crew tends to disappear and/or hide in the galley in between meal services. Would be nice if they could do the rounds with water occasionally for pax who aren't sleeping between meals.

Last edited by gcashin; Jan 7, 16 at 5:49 pm Reason: Corrected route to JNB-FRA
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Old Jan 7, 16, 3:55 pm
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Originally Posted by gcashin View Post
More substantial meals and in-flight snack option. For an 11+ hour flight, there is usually ~9 hours between meal services. The meals in J were generally quite tasty, but some of the portions were small and I found myself hungry between meal services (as an example, I had the "rack of lamb" on a recent CPT-FRA, which was only literally only 2 chops and 2-3 bites of meat).
How recent are we talking here? I don't believe SA has flown CPT-FRA for nearly a decade (October 2008 to be precise)!
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Old Jan 7, 16, 5:48 pm
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Originally Posted by evanb View Post
How recent are we talking here? I don't believe SA has flown CPT-FRA for nearly a decade (October 2008 to be precise)!
My mistake - meant to say JNB-FRA (was in CPT but had flown via JNB). Corrected the original post. And recent would be 4 days ago ;-)
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Old Jan 7, 16, 7:24 pm
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Originally Posted by evanb View Post
The calculus that an airline must make with respect to premium economy is whether premium economy will cannibalize business class passengers or economy class passengers (basically, will travelers trade down more than trading up, or vice versa).
There is the other trade-off of losing customers to competitors from not offering PE. As of now their European competitors and Cathay (HKG/Asia) all offer PE. DL is rumored to be introducing true PE on their int'l fleet in the next 2-3 years.
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Old Jan 8, 16, 2:18 am
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Originally Posted by lowfareair View Post
There is the other trade-off of losing customers to competitors from not offering PE. As of now their European competitors and Cathay (HKG/Asia) all offer PE. DL is rumored to be introducing true PE on their int'l fleet in the next 2-3 years.
Between South Africa and Europe, you'll find
BA, VS, AF, LH offer premium economy
KL, LX, TK, EK, EY, ET, QR, KQ and SA don't offer premium economy

There is a lot more capacity in the latter group than the former group.
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Old Jan 8, 16, 4:03 am
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Having just flown SA from LHR to CPT via JNB and return in J, my simple observation would be that there are legion little things management could do to improve the overall experience- such as introduce consistent standards, whether in seats, service or ground support. Basically SA struck me as friendly chaos with good food and wine. Traveling on three widebodies we had three different seats, with the most comfortable beds reserved for the domestic hop. Service was uniformly friendly and shambolic. JNB was organised chaos: a domestic transfer required a further security check and four passport scans. Both the CPT and JNB lounges had half their coffee machines out of order.

I liked my trip on SA but it became obvious very quickly why it's losing money and market share.
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Old Jan 8, 16, 5:09 am
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Originally Posted by evanb View Post
Between South Africa and Europe, you'll find
BA, VS, AF, LH offer premium economy
KL, LX, TK, EK, EY, ET, QR, KQ and SA don't offer premium economy

There is a lot more capacity in the latter group than the former group.
But if you make that into a comparison of *direct* flights you get:

BA, VS, AF, LH offer PE
KL, LX, TK, SA don't.

I would argue that capacity there is very close, or even that the first group outweighs the second. And for many people travelling on business (key target market for PE) then a direct flight is mandated due to time pressure.
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Old Jan 8, 16, 7:36 am
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Originally Posted by Stewie Mac View Post
But if you make that into a comparison of *direct* flights you get:

BA, VS, AF, LH offer PE
KL, LX, TK, SA don't.

I would argue that capacity there is very close, or even that the first group outweighs the second. And for many people travelling on business (key target market for PE) then a direct flight is mandated due to time pressure.
Especially given that SAA is the only nonstop carrier to LHR that does not have PE. Additionally, the ME3 add about 1,000 miles to Euro connections vs flying SAA to FRA/MUC and connecting on LH.

Last edited by lowfareair; Jan 8, 16 at 7:43 am
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Old Jan 11, 16, 12:05 am
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Traveling on three widebodies we had three different seats, with the most comfortable beds reserved for the domestic hop.
All SAA widebodies have the same seat. Some have a different covering (brown versus blue) and some are newer the others (A330s versus A340s). There are some slightly different cosmetic features but they are the same seat from the same manufacturer.
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Old Jan 11, 16, 12:09 am
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Originally Posted by Stewie Mac View Post
And for many people travelling on business (key target market for PE) then a direct flight is mandated due to time pressure.
I would argue that PE is not targeted at business travelers, that would cannibalize business class travelers. It's targeted at getting economy class passengers to trade up, it's why the first airlines to push premium economy all had pretty poor economy class products (think BA).
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