The 2018 South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi) for Airlines conducted by Consulta has ranked South Africa’s five-most popular airlines from best to worst . Based on criteria including customer satisfaction and price structures, our domestic carriers all have something to shout about… apart from South African Airways (SAA).
It’s hard to know where to start with this particular autopsy. And the backdrop to this survey just about sums everything up. SAA workers are going on strike this Friday , meaning the airline have had to cancel dozens of flights across the country and towards international destinations. Things like this don’t help your cause.
SAA “the worst airline in South Africa”, according to customers
SAA actually end up bottom in a number of categories, when pitted against their main competitors: FlySafair, Kulula, Mango and the British Airways-operated flights of Comair. Their performance as a state-owned entity has taken a battering, and despite numerous tax-payer bailouts, the group are still struggling to stay airborne.
So, are they a victim of their reputation? Hardly. The likes of FlySafair and Kulula would to have the billions in public funding SAA receive on what feels like a quarterly basis. And this Index is based on customer experience, rather than what’s in the headlines. But just how badly is the SOE airline doing, and who could it learn from?
Best performing flight providers in South Africa
FlySafair has the highest customer satisfaction ranking, scoring 78 out of 100. Comair reached 75.7, with Kulula and Mango chalking-up 74.4 and 74 respectively. SAA could only muster 68.8, which is comfortably below the industry average of 72.4. That wasn’t the only test they flunked, either.
- SAA have the largest negative gap between customer expectations and actual service delivery.
- They’ve been labelled as the “worst value-for-money” out of the five airlines.
- The quality of service has landed the state carrier in fifth-place.
- SAA are bottom of the complaints table, too. Around 1 in 8 passengers have complained about their flights.
- The state carrier also struggles to retain customers. Only 62% of flyers use SAA again, below the industry average of 67.4%
- FlySafair come out on top in this survey, occupying the #1 spot for loyalty, quality, value and expectations.
How does SAA compare to other South African airlines?
FlySafair (75.4%) has the most loyal customers, followed by Kulula on 71.3% and British Airways (Comair) on 70.2%. In terms of complaints incidence, British Airways (Comair) and Mango had the lowest frequencies of complaints at 4.2% and 4.6% respectively. Apart from FlySafair, Mango are the only other South Africa airline to score positively when it comes to meeting expectations.
Professor Adré Schreuder is the SA-csi Founder and Chairperson. He lauded FlySafair for striking the right balance, and although the academic doubts SAA can “return to profitability”, he believes that there is a decent airline in there, somewhere amongst the chaos.
“FlySafair’s performance has been particularly robust, driven by a focus on customer service and on-time departures and arrivals. They average an on-time performance of 93.6% – well ahead of other local airlines. What FlySafair do well is balance being a low-cost affordable airline while giving quality customer service.”
“SAA has a monumental task to prove that it can return to profitability and meet consumer needs. However, the national carrier has done something right – it’s performance score has increased in recent years. That’s due to its on-time performance, making it one of the more punctual airlines. But Kulula has the worst on-time record.”