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Chan Buk Park, President And CEO, Asiana Airlines

Apr 1, 2004
2004 / April 2004

Q: While many airlines are struggling, Asiana Airlines’ revenue grew at a rate of 19.3 percent between 1998 and 2003, recording a net profit of $170 million in 2002. What’s the secret of your success?

A: Despite the average growth rate of 5.9 percent between the years of 1998 and 2003 experienced by the Korean air transport industry, Asiana has achieved more than 10.3 percent growth over these years. The main contributing factors come from Asiana’s focus on global
network expansion as well as consistent and aggressive investment in developing short- to medium-haul routes.

Although it was a painful process, from 1998, Asiana concentrated on identifying unprofitable routes and discontinued services accordingly.With these resources, presence in the Northeast Asian destinations were prioritized, especially the growing markets of mainland China and Japan.

In the year 2003, Asiana officially became a member of Star Alliance and increased its services into Europe,which all added up to making Asiana a true global airline.

Q: In a survey published last year by Skytrax, a London-based research firm that specializes in the aviation industry, Asiana Airlines placed third in the Best Cabin Staff category. That’s likely a result of Asiana Airlines’ strict qualification guidelines for in-flight staff, including requiring a bachelor’s degree and completion of a 12-week training regimen (two weeks longer than most competitors). In addition to training and education, what sets Asiana Airlines flight attendants apart from those of other airlines?

A: There are many qualities of our flight attendants, but we would like to mention three aspects. First, Asiana values the teamwork concept. A team is created and serves for a period of one year together on all scheduled flights. Responsibilities are shared and bonding among peers is realized, which then gets passed on to our esteemed passengers.

Second, our pool of flight attendants all have personal talents that we as a company encourage them to boast. Our patented “Flying Magic Show” and “Fashion Show” are good examples of what our flight attendants have created and are enjoyed by all in the sky.

Lastly, internal communications is one of our many strengths. A dedicated Web site (www.crew.flyasiana.com) is there for flight attendants to share their ideas and fill any particular needs that they have on a real-time basis. Flight schedules, as well as any communications needed for their duties,are also channeled through this dedicated site.

Q: Qualification guidelines for attaining elite status in the airline’s Asiana Club Program are quite generous. That’s especially true when it comes to the three-year membership term. Has the membership term always been three years? What precipitated the decision to offer the three-year term rather than the industry standard one-year term?

A: Three-year membership term has always been Asiana’s policy. Unlike countries that have a strong domestic flight base, Korea’s landscape is different and flights are relatively shorter. In order to accommodate the needs tailored to the environment, Asiana has put into place a benefit that meets the requirements and values of our customers.

Q: Asiana Airlines stresses its commitment to customer satisfaction in its mission statement, “To become recognized by our customers, shareholders and employees as the best airline in the world.” To that end, the airline has established an electronic database to record customer comments and suggestions. Tell us about some of the programs that have been implemented as a direct result of customer feedback.

A:Asiana top-prioritizes comments and suggestions from our customers and receives them by all possible channels (emails, dedicated telephone lines, letters, fax, personal visits, in flight, etc.). We reply to all received comments within 48 hours. Comments and replies are available to all employees through our intranet, called Telepia.

Changes that have already been made are flight entertainment programs, catering services, airport lounge services, wine list, marketing developments and frequent flyer programs. Most, if not all, of our services related to flight and general operations are affected by our customers’ comments.

Q: Asiana Airlines, in conjunction with the Star Alliance, recently introduced Conventions Plus-an international convention planning program. Tell us about Conventions Plus. How does it work? What prompted its development? How is it being received by meeting and convention planners?

A: Convention Plus is a program jointly developed by all members of Star Alliance group. The home carrier to a planned convention takes the lead in providing a one-stop service for potential attendees. This provides customers convenience in scheduling, as well as competitive fares, although different carriers are involved in the flight itinerary. Most importantly, seamless service is offered through the extensive network and infrastructure which Star Alliance proudly offers.

According to the Union of International Association, in year 2002 alone, there have been a total of over 9,124 conventions worldwide. The need for a more simplified approach to international convention planning has always been an issue. Star Alliance, including Asiana, has developed a program that could accommodate these needs with added benefits not previously available.

Convention planners are very pleased with this program. Korean planners in particular believe the program will increase attendance. To provide extra convenience, Asiana has established a dedicated Web site at www.convention plus.flyasiana.com.

Q: While airlines around the world are investing in new and innovative in-flight entertainment technology, Asiana Airlines goes a step further by offering live in-flight entertainment in the form of couture fashion shows and magic shows. Tell us about the magic teams and fashion shows. Who are the stars of the show? What’s involved in planning the programs? Share examples of passengers’ reactions to the live entertainment. What’s the most popular performance?

A: We call the magic show performers the Wizards of Asiana and call the program Flying Magic Service. There are five different sets of teams, each made up of volunteers from our roster of flight attendants. Every group is responsible for a different flight, mostly on the trans-Pacific and European flights. However, not all volunteers are able to join as there is a strict screening process. Details of the magic service include magic shows, special cocktail
shows,magic balloon and face painting, celebration party and stretching. Programs are planned by our flight attendants and rehearsals are held during their off-duty times. The most popular performance is the magic show, which is well-liked by passengers of all ages.

Q: Regarding the fashion shows, who are the models? Do you work with featured designers? Are the fashions offered for sale during the flight?

A: Flight attendants serve as models in the fashion shows. This group is named Delighters of Asiana. National costumes are presented at the show with themes including world peace, sharing and charity. Currently, we do not work with featured designers, but due to the growing popularity, we have plans to expand the line of costumes. Sales of these costumes are not offered in flight and we do not have plans to commercialize.

Q: Finally, established just 16 years ago, Asiana Airlines is now ranked among the world’s top airlines. What does the future hold for the airline?

A: Asiana’s mid- to long-term vision can be characterized into three aspects: one, solidifying financial status; two, increasing brand value; and three, increasing productivity.

Asiana will do its best to invest wisely and concentrate more on growing with profit. Expansion into growing markets will be realized with main focus in our strength in Northeast Asia. Brand value will continuously be upgraded with our consistent safety ratings, investment in in-flight systems and the unique services. Lastly, we’ll continue to enhance productivity with our modern
fleet, efficient organization and continuous advance in IT infrastructure.

The future of Asiana is bright since we have the core assets of our valued customers along with our dedicated staff who all love Asiana.

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