As an airline corporation serving most of the United States and several international locations, JetBlue burst into the scene and grabbed significant market share. However, with growing reputation came stiff competition from major airlines as the rival brands felt a significant threat. It forced JetBlue to re-think a lot of its business model, from fuel-economy of its carriers to marketing strategy. Nonetheless, a decade-and-a-half since its debut, it holds strong in the highly competitive and fragmented air travel industry, particularly impressive with its customer satisfaction rating.
Since 1987, when the Department of Transportation began tracking Customer Satisfaction statistics, Southwest has consistently led the entire airline industry with the lowest ratio of complaints per passengers boarded. Many airlines have tried to copy Southwest’s business model, and the Culture of Southwest is admired and emulated by corporations and organizations in all walks of life. Always the innovator, Southwest pioneered Senior Fares, a same-day air freight delivery service, and Ticketless Travel. Southwest led the way with the first airline web page—southwest.com, DING, the first-ever direct link to Customer’s computer desktops that delivers live updates on the hottest deals, and the first airline corporate blog, Nuts About Southwest. Our Share the Spirit community programs make Southwest the hometown airline of every city we serve.
JetBlue's mission is "to bring humanity back to air travel". Its low-cost strategy is second-to-none, not even to Southwest. Utilizing Southwest as a model and benchmark early in Neeleman's career in the industry, he's managed to copy the Southwest model and expand upon it with his ability to find more innovative ways to cut costs along the organization's value-chain, while utilizing technology to increase productivity and further add to operational efficiencies. JetBlue's value chain demonstrates its ability to successfully compete in several key areas relative to the bases of competition within the industry and creates processes that focus on reducing costs, for the specific purpose of continuously creating value for its customers, i.e. fare pricing, customer service, routes served, flight schedules, types of aircraft, safety record and reputation, in-flight entertainment systems and frequent flyer programs.
One Marketing strategy that airline carriers are implementing into their airplanes is a better seat.
JetBlue Airways was well on its way to become the premier low fare airline in early 2002. “Despite the fact that the US airline industry had witnessed 87 new airline failures over the previous 20 years” JetBlue had an innovative business model that focused on reducing cost while eliminating “everything that sucked about airline travel.” JetBlue airlines were put together by David Neeleman who “launched a new airline that would bring humanity back to air travel. Neeleman had a lot of prior experience in the airline industry having spent time at Morris air, later acquired by Southwest. Neeleman also used his experience to help launch a startup low fare airline company in Canada known as West Jet. One of JetBlue’s major assets was its commitment to technology. By maintaining a fleet of newer more technologically Airbus A320s “JetBlue’s fleet was not only more reliable and fuel efficient than other airline fleets but also afforded greater economies of scale because the airline had only one model of aircraft.”
The airline industry has an incredibly intricate market ruled by consumer need and firm greed. The airline industry utilizes an oligopoly style market structure and airlines often use certain price discriminations to obtain the most revenue from their services. Externalities also weigh into the airline industry. Competition amongst airlines is incredibly fierce and only those who are thirsty for business and cold hard cash will survive within the terminal walls and jetway halls.
What is particularly impressive about Southwest Airlines is that the company has been consistently profitable every year since 1973. This is mostly due to its eager pursuit of low operating costs, low fares, and customer-pleasing service. Also, Southwest has consistently led the entire airline industry with the lowest ratio of complaints per passengers boarded. The company started out at the bottom and worked its way up through industry ranks to become a major competitive force in the domestic segment of the U.S. airline industry. The company was able to overcome industry downturns, dramatic increases in the prices of jet fuel, falloffs in airline traffic due to terrorist attacks and recessions, while other airline companies are in debt or have gone bankrupt. Also, not only were they able to overcome these threats, but they continued to add more and more flights to more and more airports overtime. The major reason for their continued success seems to be due to their low-cost model and strong emphasis on employee and customer satisfaction.
JetBlue does not have a differential access to low cost inputs to its process that is not accessible to other airlines. In addition, the LCC model have been developed long time ago and Airlines like southwest have mastered it over the years. Generally, the operational choices are based on attributes and capabilities that are not difficult to imitate. These choices, are neither path dependent not casually ambiguous nor socially complex and thus not costly to imitate by competitors.
That is what Dave Neeleman set off to create with the inception of JetBlue in 1999. JetBlue is a bright, young startup airline. Why has JetBlue succeeded where most have failed? Is Dave's strategy as simple as bringing "humanity back to air travel"?
The first initiative that they were able to gain in competitive advantage was the reduction of costs. They have been able to use an online system where consumers can reserve tickets avoiding which avoids using travel agents. Having this systems reduces costs for the company as well because they do not have to hire nearly as many as employees. Along with buying tickets, JetBlue has been able to use other systems to reduce costs which helps them with the maintenance of their planes and organizing information that involves every aspect of their business ranging from their planes to their employees and consumers. The second initiative that JetBlue uses is the creating of new services. By creating their new online services and systems they are able to gain competitive advantage because it allows easier and less expensive accessibility to their services. Not only have they created new services but they are able to differentiate these services from their competitors because of the easiness and quality of the services that they do provide. They not only focus on making their services the best but also the highest level of customer service that they can offer which other airlines struggle to do. Other competitors have realized that JetBlue is beating them in many aspects in the business that they have needed to adjust what they are doing to catch up. Even with the jumps in technology use with the other companies, JetBlue has still been able to enhance their services to continue to gain competitive
Having a low amount of cost in their operations is one of the contributing factors in Southwest Airlines’ financial success. Such low cost model of the corporation is brought about by an effective strategy. Southwest uses only one type of aircraft – the fuel-efficient Boeing 737. This tactic keeps training and maintenance costs down. Moreover, the no-frills approach to customer service contributed to the low cost of operations for Southwest. The airline does not serve meals on board, and there are no luxurious or first class seats offered. Services like these have been seen by the airline as unnecessary for an airline that provides a short-haul trip from city to city. By these, Southwest were able to offer low price tickets to customers, which was good for the company because most people would prefer to fly without those services mentioned if it meant for cheaper ticket price.
Spirit addresses “price” by attempting to get the lowest possible fair for their potential customers. They have instituted their “unbundling” strategy that essentially removes all the conveniences that other airlines afford. Fees for checked bags, fees for flight changes, and no complementary in-flight beverages are just a few of the cost-trimming techniques employed. This strategy allows Spirit to come up with impossibly low fares. It also conforms to customers who just want to get from point A to point B without paying extra for services they don’t use. This strategy, coupled with an in-your-face “promotion” ploy, has made Spirit Airlines “the most profitable airline in the U.S.” (Nicas, 2012).
Technology/Innovation: R & D essential in creating efficiencies and reducing expenses with turn-around times, fuel costs, reservations etc
Due to the increased use of the internet, it is becoming more and more easier to book online. This allows customers to book flights easier and increase Jet2’s revenue. Revenue is increased through not having to deliver or post tickets out to its customers, in comparison with other non-internet based airlines. It is believed that over 97% of Jet2’s customers book online, which further highlights Jet2’s emphasis on online bookings.