The ramifications for the brand after Qantas’ decision to ground its entire fleet over the weekend are obvious. It’s a move that has no doubt put tens of thousands of people in a very bad mood and set the scenes in my view for an ongoing internal war that may well prove unrecoverable.
In brand terms, Qantas has done something equally damaging. In looking to force a regulatory decision, it has handed its competitors the perfect bridge: actions that discredit trust; and a prompted opportunity for customers to try out the opposition.
One of the most powerful incentives for change is doubt – that nagging, unrelenting feeling that somehow a brand is not what it used to be, or even worse that it cannot be taken at its word.
The other incentive is access to another channel that is viable, credible and that offers an opportunity to vent emotion.
Both incentives exist here. Meaning people now not only have a reason to walk, they have lots of gates to walk to. Domestically and internationally, competing airlines have been handed the chance to invite disaffected business fliers into their lounges, to convert frequent fliers to their own loyalty programmes, to offer incentives to secure the Xmas travelling public, and at the same time to look very much like the good guy.
There’s never been a better time for competitors to encourage people to fly another way.
I have a feeling this is going to get interesting.