EyeforTravel's Asian Summit 2015

May 2015, Singapore

3 ways that a legacy airline is standing tall in Asia Pacific

A pink kitten, high-end focus and standout safety are helping EVA Air to gain ground in a fast growing market

The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest growing airline market in the world, both in terms of aircraft orders and passenger volumes. As a recent EyeforTravel whitepaper reports, both Boeing and Airbus broke records in 2014 for planes constructed and aircraft on order, a large number of which are intended to serve routes to and from China.

According to IATA, between 2012 and 2017, airlines expect air passenger traffic in APAC to rise by 5.7 percent, and the worldwide regional share of total global passengers will reach 31.7%. By 2030, 49% of global passenger traffic is expected to be within the APAC region or between the region and the rest of the world.

But operating an airline in this fast growing and competitive market is challenging.

Glenn Chai, Executive VP, Planning Division at Taiwanese legacy carrier EVA Air says: “The boom of the low cost carriers in the region has been a challenge to legacy carriers in regional services. And the increase in long-haul capacity of legacy carriers has also intensified competition.”

Another challenge, he says, is the growing competition between the various hubs like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea’s Incheon, not to mention the fact that infrastructure constraints has served to limit flight and passenger growth.

Here are three ways that EVA, a legacy carrier, aims to compete in this fast-growing and highly competitive region.

·         A clearly defined audience and technology that serves their needs

Given the price conscious nature of APAC’s growing middle class, EVA Air’s target customer is the business class passenger. To the meet the demands of its high-end customer the airline’s Royal Laurel class has implemented flatbed seating, Sky Wifi, individual seatback entertainment, high-resolution monitors and multi-touch technology.

“At 20,000 feet or higher, our passengers can send and receive emails, use instant messaging apps, and check in on social media,” explains Chai.

According to Chai, EVA airline passengers’ use of e-commerce is no longer simply limited to ticket sales and they have “worked very hard to make our website as user friendly as possible”.

To this end, passengers can book, select seats, check-in online and print their boarding card in just a few clicks. In addition, it is now possible to purchase flights via the group’s mobile app, which is available for Android and iOS. It also links directly to the airline’s Facebook page for easy access to promotions, and news, and has menus available in English and traditional and simplified Chinese and Japanese. This is a nod to the growing number of people travelling within the region from China and Japan. Chai hopes to see visa restrictions dropped for the Chinese passengers in transit, which will boost passenger growth and position Taiwan as major transport hub in Asia.

·         A focus on fun

Even business travellers want to have fun and it seems you can’t go wrong with a bit of a gimmick in the APAC region. In December, the Hello Kitty themed jets that were available for charter between Singapore and Taipei proved an “overwhelming success”.

As such, the airline is making Hello Kitty flights a permanent fixture on this route from June 2015 this year.

Says Chai: “While other airlines may have operated painted aircraft in the past, we make flying fun by taking the Hello Kitty theme inside the cabins and extending it to over one hundred items of service.”

From themed safety cards to toilet paper or even a Hello Kitty shaped pat of butter for your bread roll, the Japanese cartoon character is everywhere. And the airline actively encourages travellers to take photographs and share them on social media with the #HelloKittyEVAAir. There is even an official Hello Kitty website for the airline.

·         Putting safety first

Given the spate of airline disasters involving carriers from the region, EVA makes much of its safety record in marketing efforts. In 2014 it was ranked third among the world’s safest airlines by AERO International Magazine’s annual Global Airline Safety Index. With no flight losses or fatalities since it began flying, EVA ranks just behind Cathay Pacific Airways and Emirates on the AERO international list.

Why not join us at TDS Asia 2015 (May 20 – May 21) to hear more about emerging opportunities in the region 

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