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SIA-MAB codesharing furore: Dealing with customers feeling ‘short-changed’

26 September 2019 2 min read

Singaporean netizens on Facebook have not been the most supportive of the recent expansion of the partnership between Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Malaysia Airlines (MAB), which includes the expansion of codeshare flights beyond Singapore-Malaysia routes and enhancements on the frequent flyer programme.

The announcement made last week, brought out the cattier side of netizens who were not keen on paying a premium price for an SIA ticket, and then heading on to fly with MAB which has seen some turbulent times in recent years. Earlier last month even, the Malaysian national carrier incurred the wrath of Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu when he saw his flight to London delayed and hence missing a meeting with the PM. Others netizens commented on the security aspect that they do not wish to have an SIA aircraft maintained by an MAB maintenance team. These comments were largely from netizens based in Singapore.

Bringing the brand equity conversation into the mix, one netizen commented: “Does Hermes collaborate with Bonia? Image takes a generation to build and a moment to squander. What happened SQ? Where are your better minds?”

MAB has made headlines for the past few months given the talks about the brand being being sold off, shut down or refinanced – despite the fact that MAB posted a 2% year-on-year increase in revenue for the first quarter of its financial year ended 31 March 2019. While it has no doubt made strides in regaining its popularity, it has also not yet been able to wash the stain of the disappearance of flight MH370 and the crash of MH17.

Dominic Mason, managing director, Sedgwick Richardson also added that from a branding point of view, SIA will need to address negative perceptions arising from customers who feel short-changed and make the call whether these perceptions outweigh benefits from revenue and cost savings.

Of course. If you pay a relative premium for any product or then you are right to expect a higher level of quality and an enhanced experience

Dominic Mason
Managing Director, Southeast Asia

MAB’s struggle sign of potential merger?

Analysts recently speculated that MAB struggling to stay afloat foreshadows the possibility of the airline merging with SIA. Quoting associate director at Maybank Kim Eng Securities, Mohshin Aziz, the South China Morning Post reported that in order for MAB to “thrive and survive”, it should “set national identity aside and merge with SIA”.

Commenting on the speculation, Mason said:

“Code sharing is one thing but a merger is an entirely different proposition. The success of the SIA brand is built on a culture of service excellence and innovation over decades. A successful merger requires that culture to be evident across operations in Malaysia, something which will take decades.”

Click here to read the full article written by and originally featured in Marketing Interactive.

Dominic Mason
Managing Director, Southeast Asia
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