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Thursday, October 28, 2010

‘This is age of LCC revolution’: Airphil Express boss

The rapid rise of low cost carriers (LCC) is changing the way people travel and distribution needs to change accordingly, said Airphil Express chief executive Brian Thomas Hogan.

At Aviation Outlook Asia Mr Hogan told e-Travel Blackboard that distribution systems need to adapt in line with airline evolutions.

“Airlines are trying to cooperate and reservation systems need to do the same,” Mr Hogan said, on a panel discussing travel distribution.

Also on the panel with Mr Hogan was Bahrain Air commercial director Richard Nuttall, who said the advent of the internet has been “disruptive”, soon to force expensive GDS models to compete with “new solutions in distribution”.

Due to the different nature of the Philippines market, Mr Hogan said his carrier had to use alternative distribution channels to cater to the needs of the nation’s travellers.

“In some Philippines provinces you may be able to book tickets but making the payments can be difficult, so we allow third party credit card transactions,” he said.

Mr Hogan detailed Airphil Express’ use of sales agents and even pawn shops to expand payment and distribution channels, given a lack of internet penetration in the market.

“There’s no such thing as a traditional low cost carrier in the Philippines,” he said, but added that the market was ripe for low cost travel.

According to Mr Hogan, we are in the age of a “low cost carrier revolution”.

“What low cost carriers have done is amazing,” he said and told e-Travel Blackboard the story of Airphil Express’ arrival into Tawi Tawi.

“We were greeted by bankers in tears because we not only opened up the market but provided a safe means to send cash.”

“We’re bringing air travel to the masses.”

From zero per cent of the market share of Philippines air travel in 2004, Airphil Express, with LCC rival Cebu Pacific, now have almost 65 per cent market share, he said.

Their success, Mr Hogan told e-Travel Blackboard, is because Airphil Express concentrates on value and service and makes considerable efforts to “really be in the market and localise accordingly”.

On Google’s potential entry into distribution, Mr Hogan said simply, “Bring it on”.

“At the end of the day the goal of the company is to sell flights and if someone can help me get distribution then I don’t care.”

Travel agents are not ignored in Mr Hogan’s airline strategy, representing a necessary distribution and information channel.

“Travel agents are our partners,” he said.

“In the end, we all have the same goal: to get people travelling.”


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