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How Etihad Airways is Delivering on Brand eXecution in the Age of Sustainability
Brand eXecution requires an airline to stay true to its core brand personality in good times or bad and deliver a consistent experience.
It is an art to deliver a great experience once, but delivering a consistently great experience over time is a science. This is because it requires meticulous planning and persistence to stay true to that plan in the face of external and internal pressures to change course.
More than anything else, it is this consistency that builds trust among customers.
Good brand eXecution also requires consistency across different product offerings and customer touch-points. The soft product on a regional flight in an Embraer jet and a transatlantic flight in a Boeing 777 should not differ greatly.
Similarly, if the airline staff is supposed to be chatty, they should be that way on the phone, at the check-in desk, and in flight. An airline should train its partners to interact with its customers in the same way as its staff, including over digital channels.
Another aspect of good brand eXecution is the commitment to the brand ethos. The airline shouldn’t be changing what the brand stands for too dramatically very often. A slow evolution is fine, as long as it resonates with the customers well.
Case Study – Etihad Airways goes green, today!
While a number of airlines are taking steps to go green in the future, few are able to execute on these to limit their emissions today.
Over the last few years, Etihad has taken the task of going green with sincerity, exploring new technologies and future paradigms of net-zero flying.
For example, in October 2021, Etihad ran a test flight (EY20) from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi with 72% reduced carbon emissions compared to an equivalent 2019 flight. In 2022, the airline went even further. They operated a flight from Tokyo to Abu Dhabi using a 40% blend of SAF supplied by ITOCHU Corporation and NESTE. It became not only the first international airline to procure SAF in Japan but also represented the first delivery of 50,000 gallons of SAF, entirely produced in Japan, which will be used to fuel aircraft in the near future.
On 13 November, Etihad also flew their “first net zero flight” from Washington to Sharm-El-Sheik for COP27, claiming 10,000 km of emission-free flight. Recently, the airline was also recognised as Environmental Airline of the Year for 2022 in the Airline Excellence Awards.
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While it may seem like all of these are statistics for the corporate website, staff on an Etihad A350 in London could recently talk knowledgeably about sustainability issues, including the on-board features and the reduction of the use of single-use plastic.
The sustainability message has filtered down throughout the organisation, and it’s something that passengers increasingly care about.
As a result, it is good to see that staff at all levels of the airline recognise the importance of it, and this is something we expect to see from more and more airlines going forward. Etihad Airways nails Brand eXecution when it comes to its sustainability efforts.
This is an extract from our “6X+S Airline Brand Model” whitepaper which presents a new framework for airlines to build lasting brands in the age of sustainability. Download the full report here.