MILAN – Air Belgium (KF) could soon be a European novelty for an integrated booking system but first it needs to find its true north.
Offering personalized choices to passengers, hence not waging a war on price, but on alternatives (flight plus ancillary products) is a strategy, perhaps the only one, that could work in the near future. Near means very close due to a critical condition, emphasized by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Airlines have always aimed at maximizing revenue by setting price seats, taking into account the willingness to pay for various customer segments. The future, however, will need a system that automatically adjusts prices to match those of competitors (Wang, 2018).
Unlike other large carriers that have started to adopt an integrated booking system, Air Belgium was born with a dynamic approach, so much so that it is in its founding values:
- Strong and streamlined. “It’s not only our fares that make good sense. We place great emphasis on collaboration so that we can work in harmony to meet your needs,” it can be read on the company’s website.
- Flying smart. “We focus on bringing you swift and comfortable direct flights, while letting go of anything unnecessary or wasteful.” This is a strong proposition, but it’s usually easier said than done.
- Simply fly away. “From clear packages to helpful options and priority boarding, we make sure your experience is simple, smooth and fluid” (Air Belgium, 2021).
Nevertheless, it appears the airline has not yet found its vocation. And before integrating a fresh booking system, as it is already doing, it should completely clarify its role on the market.
Air Belgium, founded in 2016 in Mont-Saint-Guibert, started leisure operations in 2018 from Brussels Charleroi CRL airport (Noëth, 2017).
Despite good intentions, the first flight from CRL to Hong Kong was almost empty (Schlappig, 2018). It came as no surprise when the carrier announced the route. “The economical and operational conditions are not met to viably resume the service,” Air Belgium’s chief executive Niky Terzakis said.
In 2021 KF landed in the cargo world. By the end of the year, Air Belgium will replace two of its A340-300 aircraft with two Airbus A330-941neos, previously ordered by RwandAir, which took a step back during the pandemic in an effort to limit financial losses.