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Numerous tour operators, agencies and airports have to contend with the challenge of repeatedly having to organise alternative flights spontaneously. How can a reliable alternative be found quickly after a disruption like this? Marcus Handlos, Head of Airline Relation Management at PRO SKY, explains the best way to proceed when an airline fails.
First SmallPlanet, then Azur Air Germany, followed by Primera Air, and now Germania and Flybmi. Airline insolvencies are no longer a rarity these days. It is every event planner‘s worst nightmare to be stranded without a flight. How will the guests get to their destination? How should I react to complaints? And ultimately: What can I do to regain confidence in my services? Many event agencies turn to Marcus Handlos with these questions. After over 20 years in the aviation business, the airline expert is used to these questions. “Once the airline really has gone bankrupt, the situation can become tricky for many people. The right prevention is therefore important,” he reveals.
Analysis leads to planning reliability
And what does that look like? “Don’t just go for the bargain price without reflecting, and find out about the airline first.” However, this is only a rough guideline. If you want to be on the safe side, you should rely on a differentiated analysis. “This might be an airline comparison which shows structural information, such as the average age of the fleet, the airline‘s IOSA certification, financial information as well as air safety-related data, including accident statistics.” This provides a certain planning reliability, which can help to actively avoid risks and any resulting flight cancellations – particularly after market uncertainties. This is an important criterion for ensuring and even increasing customer satisfaction in the long term.
And how can an agency get hold of this information? “One way is from an airline’s own information,” Marcus explains. “Agencies then need to meticulously compare these airlines with each other. Most do not have the time for this; they want to concentrate on the event.”
The solution: consult experts directly. “PRO SKY collects all this information centrally, evaluates it and provides customers with an up-to-date picture of the current situation. Which airline has a particularly old fleet? Which airline company is in financial difficulties? The combination of data analysis and years of experience makes it possible to obtain this kind of important overview.”
How should you react in an emergency?
And what if I haven’t known about this information until now? The chosen airline has gone bankrupt, and the trip is imminent. “We advise you to be open to new solutions. Time is precious in these situations. Can the group be split over two flights? Is a different day possible for the journey? Can a different destination or starting airport be chosen? The basic conditions need to be clarified first. What’s called for is a fast and effective comparison.” Many agencies are not even aware that it’s worthwhile getting a charter flight for medium-sized groups. “Professional advice makes all the difference here.”
But even after an alternative solution has been found, there is still additional work that needs to be done. “Customers need to be given a feeling of safety. Especially if an agency has been impacted by flight cancellations in the past. Things can always happen. The focus needs to be on minimising the risk as much as possible and demonstrating that you are as prepared as possible.”
Evaluation systems create confidence
One way of achieving this is with additional evaluation systems. “PRO SKY has the Quality Score for this. It takes into consideration the flexibility, reliability, punctuality, onboard service and cabin comfort of each airline.” This allows customers to be well informed and to see at a glance how an airline is performing. Using the evaluation system gives agencies a basis for making the right purchase decision and protecting their reputation against potential operational disruptions.
“Many agencies actually communicate to their customers that they do not book the flights themselves and rely on PRO SKY from the beginning for this. This represents a sign of quality. You do not have to be an expert in everything. Nevertheless, you should know the experts. Seeking support is a sign of professionalism. And customers appreciate this as well. Particularly when a trip is not cancelled thanks to this.”