Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In Praise of Air NZ

Air New Zealand is –  alongside My Food Bag - New Zealand’s premier company. They fly 16 million people a year. That’s a lot of trust. Most of my miles with Air New Zealand have been across the Pacific, from America and Asia, a few hundred times I guess as I have come back home. I loved flying them through the Lions Tour. No fuss. No drama. No bullshit. Just customer-focused, professional, friendly, light touch, and engaging approach to safety (seen their latest video?) but safety nonetheless.

It says a lot for the New Zealand government’s longsighted expertise in ownership and governance of major commercial enterprises that Air New Zealand has thrived (NZ Govt owns 52%). For the past 15 years Air New Zealand has been led by three outstanding CEOs: Sir Ralph Norris, Rob Fyfe, and Christopher Luxon. Each has set a superb cultural context for customer experience, married with outstanding engineering and financial skills needed to steer an organization as complex and safety-conscious as an airline; together with 10,000 brand ambassadors working every day to bring an unselfconscious Kiwi professionalism to their roles in the air and on the ground.

Air New Zealand regularly wins global and regional awards for customer experience, and regularly attracts favorable media attention. Monocle Escapist just wrote about “Easy Flying” as their correspondent hopped around New Zealand on the regional airline network, advocating Air New Zealand “for those of us who value smart service and a sense of humour.”

I have been especially pleased at how Air New Zealand wove the silver fern symbol into their plane livery next to the treasured koru tail piece. Back in 1999 I advocated for this along with my creative colleague Brian Sweeney, we mocked up some black 747s with a giant silver fern – so I have a personal stake in every Air New Zealand plane I board. Read the story here.

The business of hosting guests – New Zealanders and global visitors – has evolved into our largest industry. Gone are the days of tearoom snacks with decrusted white bread sandwiches filled with hundreds and thousands (remember them, in Greymouth a few decades ago!). Air New Zealand sets the standard for the he amalgam of Kiwi attitude of helpfulness and generosity with their incredible food, wine, music and media offerings. I wrote about this 10 years ago here at KRConnect.

I’ve often pushed for New Zealanders to be world-changing over world class. However I don’t really want a world-changing airline, I want it to be world class, and Air New Zealand does it exactly right. Hats off to all 10,000. That’s lot of love.