A new report shows that its not all bad news when it comes to the airline industry in South Africa.
Skywise Airline, which only officially launched in February this year, effectively went out of business earlier this month when it was grounded by ACSA, while SAA continues to report heavy financial losses and remains a burden on the fiscus.
However, domestic airlines have maintained customer satisfaction in the latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) – at 69.7 out of 100.
The brands included in the survey: Kulula (72.8), Mango (71.3) and SAA (66.8). Founded in 2006, Mango is a subsidiary of South African Airways.
Kulula’s score increased slightly on last year’s measure and the airline held its leadership position for the second year in a row.
Mango’s score was on par with the industry average and SAA score was below par for the second year in a row, SAcsi said.
The sample size for the industry survey was 1,275 and the research was conducted between May and July 2015 via telephonic and online interviews.
The SAcsi model combines three drivers of customer satisfaction: customer expectations, perceived quality and perceived value. The calculated customer satisfaction index is statistically linked to two outcomes: customer complaints and customer loyalty.
Customer expectations and perceived quality were on par with the previous study, with customers expecting more from Mango than last year.
While the overall average for perceived value increased this year to 71.2 out of 100, SAA’s score (65.5) is significantly lower than the overall industry score.
Both Kulula and Mango were given higher scores this year for perceived value.
Prof. Adré Schreuder , founder of SAcsi and CEO of Consulta, said that the number of complaints has risen since last year.
Although there were more complaints from both Kulula and Mango customers, the complaints level is low with less than 10% of the respondents indicating that they had any
complaints (Kulula 6.6% and Mango 7.3%).
SAA’s complaints ratio was at 11.4%.
Delayed and cancelled flights are the biggest bugbear for customer, SAcsi said.
Kulula customers also listed baggage damage and loss as issues, while Mango customers mentioned system and app errors as well as boarding gates closing early.
SAA customers complained about hidden charges, bad attitudes by SAA staff and dirty toilets.
“Airline industry customers are not a very loyal to any particular carrier,” said Schreuder, adding that although Kulula is the leader in loyalty, both loyalty and retention scores are lower across all brands surveyed.
“This drop in loyalty could be due to increased economic pressure on consumers, which drives them towards greater price sensitivity.”
Relative to the international scores, South Africa’s airline industry’s score of 69.7 compares with that of the USA, which reported an overall satisfaction score of 71 out 100 in 2015.
Kulula received positive mentions about its staff’s friendliness and competence in the verbatim comments by customers, whereas SAA customers made the greatest number of negative comments about SAA staff.