Three aspects of industrial change within the airline industry:
The liberalization of air transport, the rise of the internet economy and the reliability of service by airlines to its customers
The rise of the transport industry is a global phenomenon. This industry provides an indispensable contribution to the global economy because of the growing need for traveling over varying distances, whether on land, sea or by air. Within the transport sector, however, air transport occupies an important position simply because of the "growing number of trips over long distances and the increasing value of the time factor." The "liberalization of air transport," the "rise of the internet economy" and the "reliability of service by airlines to its customers" are three areas of industrial change within the airline industry.
The liberalization of air transport is one area of industrial change within the airline industry. It has been revealed that since the liberalization of air transport, airlines have lost the protection of their markets resulting in increased competition between carriers. As a result, many former state-owned carriers have been privatized and there is the new obligation to operate under a real profit motive. They have to compete in terms of service levels, but also face pressure to lower the fares and consequently have to strive to reduce costs. It is also the view that airlines now need to find a way to increase its scope without having to incur the costs of serving all desirable markets by itself. At the same time, it must strive to avoid excessive vulnerability from the uncertainties of loose, shorter-term cooperation agreements with carriers. According to Connor, airlines have to compete in terms of service levels but also face pressure to lower the fares and consequently have to strive to reduce costs (2002).
Another aspect of industrial change within the airline industry is the rise of the internet economy. Research has shown that the internet and electronic commerce has completely altered the airlines distribution. For instance, with the advent of e-tickets, travelers can book tickets on their flight through the airline's website. Electronic commerce, according to one definition, is the "buying and selling of goods and services through electronic technology- utilizing online services as internet, interactive television, commercial online services and screen telephones so that an organization's objective can be achieved." Andam states, to be successful, it is important that airlines understand how the web and ecommerce affects their business (2002).
Furthermore, the reliability of service by airlines to its customers is another feature of industrial change within the airline industry. The airline industry provides extremely reliable service, given the uncertainties of weather, mechanical failures, limited capacities of airports and the air traffic control systems. Such a high reliability is partly the result of advanced technology in the aircraft and the air traffic control system. Some are of the view that airlines with the reputation for reliable service have been shown to develop a positive image among customers. However, reliability can be measured by several elements including the "reports of mishandled luggage, on-time arrival of flights, involuntary boarding denials from overbooking flights, and passenger complaints." Therefore, airlines that are able to control these elements are said to provide better service to the customer and thus offer more quality, effective and reliable service. It is also important to remind customers that while one or two airlines may be inconsistent with regards to reports of mishandled luggage, on-time arrival of flights or passenger complaints that it is the same for all. In fact, some writers speaking on the airline industry argue that there are many reliable airlines operating in our world today. Taneja affirms, skilled and experienced personnel in these centers work around the clock to manage and integrate the numerous operational functions and to ensure that customers receive the best quality and reliable service (2003).
As a nation, let us continue to strive for authentic human development at all levels. We must also keep in mind that 'air transport' occupies an important position in our world simply because of the "growing number of trips over long distances and the increasing value of the time factor."