How Airlines pivoted amid COVID19?
We all know that since March 2020 all planes are grounded and the travel industry was badly affected by the COVID19. The strict regulations forced companies to find new revenue streams. The majority conducted several analyses to look at opportunities that they could exploit to pivot. In uncertain times like this, it is vital to rapidly assess our current situation, strengths and weaknesses to tackle potential opportunities. All the companies that we have listed below had brainstorming sessions where a lot of ideas were thrown to create a new business strategy, to remain afloat during those difficult times.
The first example is the pivot strategy of Virgin Atlantic, United & American Airlines, and Lufthansa that decided to switch to cargo-only flights. They basically decided to use their planes to transport medical equipment, supplies, as well as food and other goods.
Singapore Airlines has decided to offer Business Class Lunch using their catering facilities for S$300, in their A380. This clearly shows the necessity to continue using their planes and catering facilities despite the restrictions, despite being on the ground.
Thai Airlines opted for offering a dining experience in their Head Office in Bangkok. Knowing that the offices were not used by their employees they took this opportunity to develop this concept.
The same concept developed by Singapore Airlines and Thai Airlines was to offer flight simulation training in their respective training facilities. This is a good idea to take advantage of our current facilities to create new revenue streams.
When it comes to finding a way to keep the cabin crew busy, those two airlines decided to deploy them in hospitals as "care ambassadors" to support the patients and the medical staff.
Those examples above show clearly the focus on creating ideas around the current strengths and competitive advantage of those companies.
The below example of finding new revenue streams from taking advantage of the needs created by the COVID19.
Etihad Airways started the production of masks (20,000 daily) to serve the hospitals and clinics in the UAE, as well as their staff. As they are disposable masks and need to be replaced every day, this became an increased cost for the company. This shows the importance of looking at the external environment and sees how you can take advantage even though you don’t have a competitive advantage. There was an opportunity for a new revenue stream and cost reduction simultaneously. Even if the initial investment was high (equipment and materials), the opportunity to enter a new market created by the pandemic new needs, was exploited by the airline company.
The airlines' industry was the most affected by the COVID19 pandemic. Great efforts were made to respond quickly to unexpected changes and to find new revenue streams to stay afloat.