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For the Airline Industry, An Age of Permanent Crisis

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U.S. airline revenue and profits continue to climb. Most carriers, like United, have made the calculation that, in an oligopolistic market, almost no sin they can commit will harm their market position. “What me worry” has thus overtaken the “friendly skies” as a corporate mantra. But nothing lasts forever: rising fuel prices, start-up competitors, technology-driven disruption, and new markets where customers have more options, all pose future threats. At some point, simply dismissing customers makes for an unattractive brand. Just ask the cable companies whose monopolistic practices left them few friends when new technology offered alternatives.

Richard Levick talked to APEX Experience magazine about the best and worst practices for airlines: the need to respond speedily in social media time; the need to talk to, not at, their customers; the need to empower their front line to serve the public rather than simply implement their own rule of law; the need to have a global, not just a U.S. point of view; and the need to build a trust bank to draw from once the inevitable incident occurs.

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