Over the past two years Avianca Airlines has experienced a fundamental transformation: the company has placed its customers at the heart of everything it does to become the world’s preferred Latin American airline, supported by the best people and the best technology.
Avianca is a full-service carrier that has developed a highly efficient business model to offer an exceptional experience to its customers, while maintaining solid financial results for its shareholders. In that sense, understanding that digital transformation goes beyond the use of technology and that it is also a matter of leadership and corporate culture was a key step. Several processes have been implemented to keep the airline at the forefront, such as defining new structures and processes. Digital transformation is important to Avianca because online innovation has become a key part of success in the modern aviation industry.
True transformation implies a change of culture and empowerment. That is why Avianca’s strategy is based on three main aspects: the customer, operations, and business. All have the same purpose – improving the customer experience and the productivity of Avianca’s employees.
The company aims to connect Latin America with the rest of the world, and for that to happen, technology must go from being an enabler to a concept that inspires blue sky thinking.
Avianca’s digital transformation strategy has had a significant impact on the way people work by inspiring them to be:
- Increasingly innovative and constantly challenging themselves to think differently and to understand the real needs of customers
- Agile and able to quickly respond to changes and adapt to new realities
- Empowered to make decisions at the right time
- Data-driven and aware of the value of information for decision making
- Process-oriented, breaking silos and maximising efficiencies
Avianca has resourced a range of tools to be able to respond to the day-to-day requests of the digital world, such as CRM – Dynamics 365, with which customer information can be collected to improve its journey. In addition, it has implemented Adobe-based digital channels, which facilitates campaign automation and improves the content administration of the website and the mobile app. As a result, customers can enjoy a better self-management experience.
From a corporate standpoint, Avianca has enabled a “Home Office” initiative and has empowered its employees by providing them with tools such as Office 365, Skype for Business, and SAP Success Factors. The airline has implemented applications to streamline the fleet operation and manage the needs of its crews by using Netline Ops and Netline Crew, all while developing an app for improving the instant communication with crews.
Therefore, Avianca’s digital transformation strategy is proving to be a great success – but there is so much more to come. The company has improved the way it works and has become more efficient. Yet, Avianca recognises that in order to achieve its goals, it must reach out. The airline has partnered with strategic allies, working within an ecosystem that contributes to an improved customer experience and monitors the processes that support it on a daily basis.
Avianca continues to focus its efforts on improving the customer experience, and in April 2018, launched its new brand campaign, “Everything for your love”. The campaign makes a firm commitment to delivering a world-class experience in the air and on the ground. Avianca has therefore transformed its sales and contact channels and has adjusted its digital portfolio. In addition, the company continues to enhance the LifeMiles frequent flyer programme, to modernise its fleet, improve the onboard experience and to introduce new destinations.
Customer service is one of Avianca’s biggest challenges in its effort to improve its service at every stage of the journey. Therefore, as part of the customer-oriented plan, the airline continues to implement several initiatives. One of them is the Baggage Reconciliation System, which has been initially launched in its hubs: Bogota, San Salvador and Lima. This system allows real-time baggage monitoring, from the moment clients check in, to the moment they collect it at their destination. By doing this, Avianca can produce accurate information about where baggage is at any given time.
Regardless of how long the flight is, Avianca works diligently to make it comfortable and pleasant. That is why it has a team of experts in charge of planning every in-flight detail to offer clients a unique experience at no additional cost. Avianca’s fleet is one of the newest in Latin America: 190 narrow and wide-body aircraft, with spacious seating that offers comfort and guarantee a good rest. On 80% of Avianca’s planes, passengers can access a USB connection, headphone jacks, touch screens, adjustable headrests, seats that recline between 30 and 175 degrees, (depending on the cabin and the airplane), and on long-haul flights, blankets and pillows. Several departments contribute to the in-flight menu along with the guidance of internationally recognised chefs. Market trends and passenger preferences are channels that Avianca uses for choosing the best menus, snacks, and beverages, with departure times and flight length taken into consideration.
Entertainment is key for its in-flight service: 72% of the planes have individual screens, and 18% have overhead screens. Ten of the airline’s Airbus A318s have a wireless system and in November 2018, Avianca started implementing a wi-fi service. Currently, the airline offers up to 140 movies, 360 TV episodes, games and 288 music albums that rotate periodically, and for those who enjoy a good read, there are magazines located in the seat pocket. The airline has been awarded for having one of the best in-flight services in the region by organisations such as TripAdvisor, Kayak and also as the best airline in South America by Skytrax and Apex.
Spreading its wings
In terms of connectivity, Avianca offers direct flights to 27 countries in the world. A few years ago, the company decided to spread its wings and fly further. It set the goal of no longer being Colombia’s favourite airline but also of winning Latin America’s heart. The airline has come a long way in achieving this goal and its presence in Europe, and North, Central and South America has become stronger through its actual network. In addition, through its Star Alliance partners and other allies, Avianca offers additional destinations, which means its coverage is global.
Every year Avianca offers its travellers more than one million seats between Colombia and Europe on its Boeing 787 fleet. During the past two years the airline transported an average of 850,000 passengers per year, making it a leader in transatlantic flights. The airline currently operates 49 direct flights per week to four European destinations: Madrid, Barcelona, London and Munich. Furthermore, load factors in Europe reached 88.5% in the third quarter of this year, the highest in the network and a clear indicator of its travellers’ preference.
The Bogota-Madrid-Bogota route is a source of pride for the company, since it is one of the most important connections between Latin America and Europe. Avianca operates 21 flights per week between both destinations. It is also one of the five routes that generates the most significant revenues for Avianca Holdings. A market share of 28.1% makes Avianca the leader in passenger transport between the Colombian and Spanish markets.
Recently, Avianca launched its operations between Bogota and Munich. The airline is the first Latin American airline to operate at this airport. Avianca’s expansion plans include European destinations which are not currently available from Bogota, such as Rome, Paris or Zurich.
The airline is the leader for flights between Colombia, Peru and El Salvador and for flights within Central America, with a 68% market share.
Through its hubs in Bogota, Lima and San Salvador, travellers can travel to around 90 destinations in South and Central American cities, including Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Porto Alegre, Asuncion, Mendoza, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, San Jose, Santo Domingo, and Panama City. Travellers can also easily connect to North American cities like San Francisco, Houston, Dallas and Toronto from San Salvador. Avianca’s customers clearly see North America as one of their favourite destinations. Therefore, the company has focused on connecting this region with the rest of the continent for several decades. Currently, it offers approximately 270 weekly direct flights to 15 destinations in North America: 12 in the United States, two in Mexico and one in Canada.
In the third quarter of 2018, the load factor was of 86 % in this market, which was one of the highest of the holding. This is one of the reasons why Avianca has expanded its network with new routes from San Salvador, Guatemala City and Lima to Orlando, from Guatemala City and Bogota to Chicago, and from San Salvador to Boston.
These facts are an example of Avianca’s vision of becoming a world-class airline. Furthermore, they ratify the airline’s commitment to the regions it serves, strengthening connectivity between Latin America and the world.
As the company gets closer to its 100-year anniversary, it is laying the foundations for the next century. Every day at Avianca, its team work with passion and integrity to offer an exceptional experience and place every single customer at the centre of everything the company does. Ultimately, Avianca does, “Everything for your love”.