Value Alliance is a new alliance, but its not what you are expecting.
Business Traveller Reports that the new Airline Alliance, Value Alliance – is comprised of:
“Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, Nok, NokScoot, Scoot, Tigerair Singapore, Tigerair Australia and Vanilla Air, and allows customers to book flights and ancillary services offered by any partner carrier from any of the airlines’ websites.”
As you can see – the Value Alliance is made up of Low Cost Carriers (LCC)’s, but it doesn’t seem like that big of a stretch, when you see that many of the players have worked together in one way or another. There are other major players conspicuously missing, like Air Asia, which brings into question the value add.
Not a True Alliance
Given the little bit of detail we have here, its not even clear to me, that Value Alliance will provide the kind of synergy that the three big Airline Alliances offer, for example, interlining for baggage, frequent flier program earning, protections when delayed (e.g. OneWorld Alliance). At this point it seems that the true benefit is that you can book flights and purchase the extras on one website, despite going to multiple sites. Like I said above – it is unclear to me, what levels of protections customers will be afforded. In fact the other “quasi-alliance” the Etihad Partners (while similarly unimaginative in name), provides more of the traditional perks of an alliance.
IT is Hard, but, this Airline Alliance celebrates a breakthrough in it
Despite the obvious advantages and disadvantages of partnership, the Business Traveller article instead highlights the technology that is facilitating this partnership. The technology, provided by Air Black Box (ABB), is Air Connection Engine (ACE). It leads me to ask the question as to whether this is an Alliance dreamed up by an IT company with a solution, or if it was a true desire, that ABB was just able to facilitate through the use of ACE. When you poke around Value Alliances’ website, its pretty clear that ABB had a big influence:
And if you dig deeper, there’s even more discussion:
Powered by ABB’s revolutionary web technology, travellers will be able to book flights offered by any Value Alliance partner at the most competitive fare when they visit any member website. While doing so, they can also select from the full range of service options in a single transaction.
In fact, a few other results from a search, shows Campbell Wilson, CEO of Scoot spearheaded the project, but it really reads as:
A pretty big deal in the annals of airline distribution…. One, it’s a world first and shows Asian LCCs ahead of in their innovative thinking and two, it is primarily a technological sales and distribution play. Source
We’ve seen time and again, airlines that try to do eloquent, innovative things, and the IT to support them falls short. Think of why United’s SHARES is nicknamed SCARES, for example. The fact is, IT is hard. That said, this is perhaps one case, where, based on what is out there, it really seems to me like the IT is shaping the offering, rather than the other way around.
Obviously, ABB is a big winner here. Various articles state that Scoot, Nok Air, and NokScoot area already users, and they were perhaps ABB’s beachhead. Others will come online, and now that the Value Alliance is in existence, they actually need to (or step out).
What does this mean for other airlines out there? I’m just not sure. For one thing though, it reminds us that there are companies out there that live and breath the technology needed for sales and distribution, yet airlines still build their own homegrown systems. I know, that’s a gross oversimplification.
So, what do you think of the “Value Alliance”? Was this an IT solution looking for a problem to fix, or the other way around?