For more than 25 years, L.E.K. has helped its airline clients innovate, improve strategic positioning and drive financial success. We are a pioneer in advising on industry consolidation, development of low-cost models, structuring loyalty programs, designing new sources of ancillary revenue, and optimizing the balance of economics and customer experience around service, product and layout of passenger accommodations (LOPA). In pursuing these objectives, we have spent many years working with dozens of leading players across the aviation ecosystem, and we are proud to count a majority of the world’s top 10 airlines as our clients.
Our airline strategy capabilities span all commercial issues, including network planning and expansion, distribution, corporate dealing, sales force effectiveness, frequent flier programs, merchandising, product development, customer engagement, and digital strategy. For example, over the past decade, we have advised on three of the world’s largest airline mergers and on half of the 10 most recent joint ventures, restructured three of the top five global FFPs, designed breakout network growth on six continents, and consulted on the strategy and implementation behind billions of dollars of ancillary revenue for more than a dozen carriers.
How we help
In today’s fast-changing and uncertain airline landscape, it is important for airline executives to ask themselves a number of critical questions, including:
- What is the best way to build a defensible position and sustainable economic profit in the face of intense rivalry and future increases in factor costs?
- What is the industry consolidation end game, and what does it mean for how we think about network growth and alliances?
- How can we tap in to the financial benefits of ancillary revenues without jeopardizing our overall value proposition and brand? How do we take our ancillary revenues to the next level in order to improve customer satisfaction while driving even greater bottom-line performance?
- What exactly is our relevant customer battleground, and how do we win and retain the most important passenger segments?
- How are trends in big data and personalization impacting our approach to marketing?
- What does fare fractionation mean for our business, and do we have the optimal LOPA calibration of fare products?
- Are we doing enough to engage our customers digitally, as younger cohorts are influenced by the outreach of OTAs, hotels and other players in the travel ecosystem?
- Is our sales force configured properly, and have we optimized our go-to-market approach and contracting strategy for the next five years of growth?
- Are we prioritizing appropriately across our myriad initiatives and deploying our capital optimally?
We complement our airline industry experience with a broad and deep Travel & Transport practice that serves the customer across all the adjacent areas of airports, hospitality, travel and tourism, rail, maritime, mobility, and freight and logistics. In addition, we extensively leverage our Aerospace team and their detailed knowledge of the supplier landscape. In particular, L.E.K.’s strong heritage in consumer-focused sectors provides us with proven behavior models that can identify the untapped opportunities and introduce successful new products and services to airlines.
Examples of our work
To learn more about how we help our clients, please refer to these case examples:
- New airline business process saves $190 million annually, streamlines operations. One of the world’s most iconic and financially successful airlines was looking to implement a more structured management system to balance the myriad operational and strategic decisions the airline faced. The growth and complexity of the business, meant that it was becoming increasingly difficult for senior management and the board to keep track of the airline’s planning process.
- New merchandising concept redefines airline industry, yields new revenue milestone for major airline. One of the world’s largest airlines was facing declining revenues during difficult economic times. The company selected L.E.K. to reexamine its core offerings and recommend new strategies to increase sales. We brought a new business model concept to the airline that would significantly bolster the company’s sustainable revenues and reshape the entire airline industry.
- Airline targets merger to expand globally, saves up to $1 billion via operational synergies. Driven by record oil prices, a depressed stock price and the threat of competitors’ consolidation efforts, a major global airline engaged L.E.K. to evaluate its strategic options within the airline industry and conduct a comprehensive synergy/transition cost analysis for potential merger considerations.
- Airline revamps operations, becomes leader in on-time performance. A major U.S. airline had recently undergone a merger and was struggling to transition into a cohesive operation. During the six months prior, the operational performance — and on-time performance in particular — had been at an unacceptable level. There was no perceptible trend of recovery.