Shekhar Ramamoorthy, Area Manager Eastern Canada, Airworld Alliance

Making it easy for agents to sell: Airworld Alliance

Shekhar Ramamoorthy, Area Manager Eastern Canada, Airworld AllianceAviation is becoming an increasingly competitive and crowded industry, making it a challenge to keep up with the latest news and trends. So who better to turn to than Airworld Alliance for a bit of insight into the industry? We asked Shekhar Ramamoorthy, Area Manager Eastern Canada, about new trends and what travellers today look for in an airline.

1. Tell us a little about Airworld Alliance.

Airworld Alliance is a division of the erstwhile SITA World Travel Group, which was established in California 80 years ago in 1933. In Canada, the group set up its operations in Ontario in 1992 and in British Columbia in 1994. Under the Airworld Alliance banner, the company represents the sales and marketing interests of small- to mid-sized airlines in Canada and USA. The company also has a tours division, which works independently as a full-fledged tour operator and an IT division operating under the name of ORGlobal, which provides IT support to the SITA group and to some other companies.

2. Are you finding that Canadians are still booking air travel to exotic destinations, especially with the low Canadian dollar?

Yes, for most of the airlines we represent, business from Canada has increased. Airlines like Kenya Airways and Air Mauritius mainly get their business from VFR market, which is not affected by the Canadian dollar. A family wedding or special birthday cannot be postponed because of the low Canadian dollar. Corporate travel is another area that has grown. Where we do see a decline is in discretionary travel (ie. travel for tourism).

3. As a company who has its finger on the pulse of air travel, what new travel trends do you foresee in 2016 and beyond?

All the airlines we currently represent are growing, enhancing services, adding to their fleet, increasing their route network/frequencies and forming stronger alliances. Garuda Indonesian airline now started accepting credit card payments for tickets issued through BSP Canada, a feature that will grow their business from Canada. Air Mauritius has tied up with Emirates for their frequent flyer program, while Kenya Airways added Cape Town and Livingstone to its network of cities in Africa.

4. In your opinion, what do all travellers want in an in-flight experience?

A good variety of in-flight entertainment, comfortable seats, choice of food are still the most important for travellers. Good and courteous customer service onboard is very important; a traveller’s in-flight experience can bring repeat clientele to the airline. Travellers these days also want to know what type of aircraft they will be flying. The 787 Dreamliners operated by Kenya Airways have earned a very good reputation.

5. What’s new for Airworld Alliance in 2016/2017?

We are constantly working to make it easier and simpler for agents in Canada to sell the airlines we represent. This year our goal is to get all the airlines we represent to be able to accept credit card payments through BSP. We are working with the airlines to load fares into the GDS so agents are able to auto price. New airlines which we represent include Tame from Ecuador, LC Peru from Peru, Amazonas from Bolivia, and Indigo from India. This year we will be adding more airlines to our portfolio – stay tuned for future announcements!