MAKING GREAT STRIDES

Written by root. Posted in IN PERSON

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Published on November 03, 2019 with No Comments

Starting with just two aircraft and minimal destinations, Royal Brunei has come a long way from when it first started 45 years ago. Here to share the airline’s progress over the years is Karam Chand, RB CEO.

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Recent accolades, expanded route network and new initiatives – all of these point to the progress that Royal Brunei has been making over the decades to become the success that it is today. And there is no stopping the airline as it continues to improve on its services and products to better serve its guests. Karam Chand, RB CEO, shares with MUHIBAH the targets the airline aims to meet in order to take it to the next level.

Congratulations on RB’s 45 year anniversary! What are some of the highlights the airline achieved over the past decade?
The few that stand out are clearly the development of our people that has produced highly skilled individuals like pilots, engineers and senior management, our fleet renewal to new technology aircraft, expanded and balanced route network, and our proud safety record and global recognition of our excellence in services and products from professional rating agencies like Skytrax and APEX.

What are some of the latest progress made over the years that will set the future for RB?
Connecting capital cities has been an important objective. We are now connected to Beijing, Tokyo, Taipei and Seoul – all very important cities for travel, tourism and trade. The Skytrax 4-star and APEX 5-star awards recognise our people and brand. It provides RB, one of smaller airline brands, an opportunity to engage even deeper with the corporates, SME guests, travel trade and other airlines, and present the merits of using our services over the many choices they have in the market.

In what areas did RB make the most progress?
Our people development, effective execution of our strategic business plans in a fast paced and changing marketplace, and service delivery programmes.

Running and managing a national carrier is no easy feat. What are some of the challenges RB faces to elevate the airline’s status in the international scene and how does it plan to overcome them?
There are many challenges in our industry: The revenue and cost pressures, overcapacity in many markets, fuel price fluctuations, and shortage of pilots. We have a strong cost management discipline and a CASK (unit cost) Programme to drive our cost base down over time. On revenue side, we are working even more closely with our travel agent partners and developing more direct sales via flyRB.com and developing ancillary revenue streams. We are very fortunate to have had a continuous cadet pilot scheme since 1975 that has allowed us to develop our own pilots and fill three quarters of our requirements. We are still hiring and over 10 cadets are in training as we speak.

We would like to see an improvement in the yield we get from our guests and cargo shippers for the world-class product and high reliability they get from us. The overcapacity in the market makes it very difficult to unilaterally increase prices. We have a major brand campaign going on to make our potential guests aware of products and services, and for them to make informed decisions on why they should select us.

The airline product has become highly commoditised with the advent of low-cost carriers. We are doing what we believe is very important to our guests that is recognition, taking care of the little things well, making them feel special with the signature RB service based on Bruneian hospitality. We don’t believe it is all about price that guests care about; the travel experience is as relevant as it was back some decades ago.

In the past decade, the aviation industry has faced some disruption trends such as more low-cost airlines appearing on the scene, travellers becoming more selective, comparative and travel savvy. How do you see RB addressing these trends?
It is about recognition and making guests feel special. There are clearly different segments out there that require slightly different approaches; however, we feel our overall service philosophy is the winner and a key point of differentiation.

What would you say is the single most proud achievement for RB under your helm? What can we look forward to from RB moving forward?
The 5-star award by APEX, which is based on the feedback from international guests. Winning this award shows the significant enhancements we have made on the products and service delivery for our guests, many of them first-time travellers with us. For them to clearly see the difference versus other airlines they fly with and strongly associate with RB service is extremely satisfying.

In one key message, what do you want travellers and customers to know about RB?
Airline service should be fun and enjoyable, and no one does it better than RB. Choose RB when you next fly.

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