Mr Michael Wisbrun, SkyTeam’s Managing Director, in a statement copied to Ghana News Agency, said with the near completion of its global network, the company priority would shift to creating a seamless travel experience for customers.
“SkyTeam’s key driver so far has been on gaining global presence, and now provides a network with access to the most relevant traffic flows worldwide. But the next stage of cooperation is about developing customer products and services that bring seamlessness to a new level,” he said.
SkyTeam currently has five of its members operating direct flights to Accra-Ghana, including Delta Airlines, Air France- KLM, Alitalia, Middle East Airlines and Kenya Airways.
The statement said with more than 30 million passengers transferring among the members annually, closer cooperation between airlines and airports had been developed under its SkyTransfer initiative, which would be rolled out in Ghana soon.
“Focus is on improving customer transfers from one member to another by developing new efficiencies, as well as transfer and service recovery standards, starting with SkyTeam’s largest hubs.
“These include Amsterdam, Atlanta, Rome, Paris CDG, Mexico City, Seoul, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. It is estimated that this will lead to an average cost savings of about 15 million euros annually on transfer related costs.”
SkyTeam launched its flagship customer-focused initiative, SkyPriority, in March 2012.
Offering a series of premium airport services for Elite Plus, First and Business Class customers, SkyPriority has now been implemented throughout 75 per cent of SkyTeam’s global network, including Ghana and other parts of West Africa and will be available at each of SkyTeam’s 1,000 global destinations by the end of 2013.
In addition, the programme is being extended to include, more dedicated security lanes, and dedicated SkyPriority call centres to provide essential support to high value customers.
Other additions include dedicated SkyPriority baggage desks at arrival halls. This service does not carry any extra costs for customers.
“With its global network almost complete, SkyTeam is working to fast-track initiatives that augment benefits offered to members,” the statement said.
These include SkyPort, which is focused on increasing co-location of airport facilities to ease the customer experience while reducing costs.
SkyTeam will open three more co-branded lounges with Istanbul being opened this month; Sydney before the end of 2013 and Beijing in early 2014. The new lounges will reduce combined costs by approximately 10 per cent at these airports.
Travel products have also been developed and upgraded to meet customer needs in order for them to get the most out of travelling with SkyTeam and booking facilities would be added to the online Round the World planning application before the year ends.
The recently enhanced Global Meetings product offers more convenience and more attractive pricing, through a new online booking tool for a minimum of 50 delegates featuring a wide range of fare discounts off published fares.
Mr Wisbrun noted: “Every initiative SkyTeam develops has benefits both for its members and most importantly for the customers. It’s not about simply being the biggest in scale, we must evolve and facilitate in the development and implementation of such customer focused initiatives.
“SkyTeam is dedicated to taking seamlessness to the next level and demonstrating we are the alliance that cares more about the needs of our customers.”
The statement confirmed that SkyTeam would welcome Garuda Indonesia as its 20th member in March, 2014. The national airline of Indonesia, Garuda will be SkyTeam’s second member from Southeast Asia.
“Garuda Indonesia’s domestic and growing international network will give SkyTeam a footprint in Indonesia, as we strengthen our presence in the Southeast Asia region,” said Mr Wisbrun.
“Garuda has worked hard to meet the membership criteria required by SkyTeam, including implementing a new IT platform, and we look forward to welcoming the airline in March next year,” he said.