Big changes could be coming to the in-flight experience for passengers flying with Emirates, the world’s largest long haul airline. The news comes after Emirates recently confirmed it’s looking for a new Head of Service Delivery who will be tasked with developing a 3-year plan designed to “consistently reduce costs.”
In a rather unusual move, Emirates has decided to publicly advertise the job – a task normally handled by headhunters and kept strictly confidential. The good news, however, is that this gives us a fascinating insight into the airline’s priorities at the moment.
First of all, is the staggering breadth of the portfolio that the new person will be responsible for. There are the usual responsibilities like customer service standards, developing key performance indicators and creating what the airline calls “a highly skilled, motivated and engaged workforce.”
Then there’s the need to “develop and deliver the on board catering product”, as well as working on cabin layouts and the airline’s award winning in-flight entertainment system.
Most telling of all though is the need to “drive a continuous productivity and efficiency programme.” That’s becoming a major focus after Emirates posted poor financial results for 2016. In May, Emirates announced that its profits had dropped by 82% last year. The airline blames increased competition, the slow down in the oil and gas market, as well as a strong U.S. dollar and the controversial Laptop Ban for its woes.
Long gone are the days when Emirates could lavish their passengers with nice ‘extras’ – nowadays, every cost counts. We’ve already seen a number of cuts made to the onboard product and it will be interesting to see how far Emirates is willing to go. It’s a fine balancing act that can quickly affect customer perceptions of the brand (Use British Airways as a recent case study on this matter).
So far, we’ve seen warm snacks removed from the onboard lounge, dining options reduced and in Economy, the moist towelettes have been cut. It’s all very minor but be sure that passengers are noticing every change. We’ve even learnt that cabin crew are being ordered to save any opened bottles of wine on return flights to Dubai – they are then being put to use in the Business Class lounge at Terminal 3 (Yes, they’ve made this decision even after the champagne scandal).
At the same time, Emirates wants it new Head of Service Delivery to raise service standards and create new digital systems for use by both cabin crew and passengers. Earlier this year, we revealed that Emirates had introduced a ‘Meal Ordering Device‘ for use by cabin crew in Business Class. This could be an important tool for the airline’s plan to develop a dine on demand product.
All of these responsibilities sound very similar to what Terry Daly, the airline’s Divisional Senior Vice President of Service Delivery is responsible for. Daly has been a controversial figure at Emirates, failing to win support from the thousands of cabin crew he is responsible for.
We’ve reached out to Emirates to ask whether Daly was looking to leave the airline or relinquish control of some of his responsibilities but the airline has declined to comment.
This might sound like Emirates is just focused on saving money at the moment but that would only tell half the story. The airline is still investing huge sums into its product development – and it’s still massively popular with passengers. In November, Emirates will take delivery of its latest Boeing 777 with a brand new First Class suite and significant enhancements to the Business Class and Economy cabins.
The president of Emirates, Tim Clark has said of the new design: “What our customers will see on Emirates’ new 777s starting from November, will be a much bigger revamp that takes our onboard experience to the next level. All cabins will sport a totally fresh new look.”
The airline has also just introduced a refreshed onboard lounge which will feature on all new Airbus A380’s and don’t forget the new toiletries and amenity packs that are given away to First and Business Class passengers. There’s even talk of the new Head of Service Delivery getting the chance to introduce a brand new cabin crew uniform in the next 12-months – the famous red hat will likely stay.