Using the table
Respondents were asked to rate the last international carrier they fl ew with in the previous three years (economy only) from “very satisfied” to “very dissatisfied”. The scores were then converted to a percentage. The figures in square brackets are the results for the 2007 survey.
(A) Jetstar and Virgin Blue were not included in the 2007 survey results because of their small sample sizes.
Respondents rated Virgin Blue (VB) average for overall satisfaction (65%). The budget airline was not included in our 2007 survey results due to its fairly recent launch and small sample size.
Despite offering a relatively limited number of international routes, more respondents selected Jetstar and VB for their value for money than any other carrier. Safety record is not as common a reason for selecting either airline, as it is with Qantas and Singapore Airlines. Jetstar has a definitive edge over VB in offering a wide range of Asian destinations such as Phuket, Siem Reap and Tokyo.
By contrast, VB, through its sister carriers Polynesian Blue and Pacific Blue, services international routes to Pacific islands such as Fiji, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand. Qantas’ recent decision to transfer its NZ domestic routes to subsidiary Jetstar should give VB competition on this route.
With the possibility of trans-Tasman flights being reclassified as domestic routes, fares between Australia and New Zealand could be slashed to domestic benchmark prices as Air New Zealand, Qantas, Jetstar and Pacific Blue engage in a price war.
V Australia, the Virgin Blue offshoot, now offers daily direct flights between Sydney and Los Angeles, and is expected to add Brisbane and Melbourne to its Australia-US flights later in the year. It first took to the skies in February with promotional return flights of just under $1000 – about $500 less than what you’d have paid for a comparable Qantas ticket.
Our respondents rated Virgin Blue, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air New Zealand about the same for value for money, while VB's overall satisfaction score is comparable to seasoned fliers such as Emirates, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines (notwithstanding a smaller sample size). This shows that no-frills carriers have an expanding niche in the Australian market.
With Qantas and V Australia rolling out premium economy class for passengers who want more space and attention than economy class offers, but who do not want to pay business class fares, value for money is now being redefined – by consumers.
At a time when passenger volume and tourism revenue are contracting amid intense competition, value for money will turn primarily on price points and how each airline meets the service expectations of the bargain-hunting Aussie globetrotter.