After a challenging year, Royal Brunei Airlines has been recognised as a global leader by the World Travel Awards. Here Breaking Travel News chats to chief executive, Karam Chand, to find out how the title has led to renewed optimism as we move into 2021
Breaking Travel News: Congratulations on your victory at the World Travel Awards, with Royal Brunei Airlines having taken the title of World’s Leading Cabin Crew. How does it feel to have honoured in this way?
Karam Chand: Royal Brunei Airlines is humbled to receive this award.
The recognition of our people on the global stage is very special.
Team RB is no doubt jubilant and we will celebrate this win in the true Bruneian way.
This award ranks very high among the many achievements of the national carrier.
BTN: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said aviation will not recover to levels seen last year until 2024. But things will not be the same moving forward. What changes can we expect in the aviation sector as we move into 2021?
KC: No doubt 2020 has been the toughest year for the airline industry and the multi-year recovery to pre-Covid-19 levels is confronting.
The first and immediate priority is to assure the travelling public of the work done by airlines, airport and health authorities that makes flying safe.
The chances of on-board transmission of the virus is relatively low without social distancing thanks to the design features of the aircraft and additional layers of protections adopted by airlines.
Cash burn is huge and revenue generation becomes so critical.
The second priority is matching capacity to demand.
Chasing profit-less volumes to make certain metrics look good does not make any business sense.
Downgrade capacity where possible and seek the right yields.
Third priority is differentiation, offer something unique.
For RB it is about warm Bruneian hospitality.
Guests notice the little things we do to make their experience that much better and the recognition of our cabin crew is a great testament of this.
BTN: How important is Royal Brunei Airlines to the hospitality sector in Brunei? The destination remains something of an undiscovered gem among travellers – is this set to change?
KC: RB provides more than eighty percent of the seats to/from Brunei.
That itself is huge and as a result of what we do in international markets makes a big difference to the rest of the hospitality sector.
The new routes to Tokyo, Beijing, Taipei etc. have opened new markets to Brunei.
The airline schedules, prices, service and experience on the ground matter to our guests.
By working closely with our local partners we have got these right.
The challenge remains reaching the customers early in their dreaming and planning phases to provide an alternative destination they have not experienced.
Brunei offers an authentic travel experience with one of most friendly people on the planet, unique food, culture, flora and fauna.
Plus it is safe (including from the virus) and a short distance from most Asian cities by air.
It has products for everyone – families, eco-tourism, diving, golfing and surfing, to name a few.
It is a gem, ready to be discovered and to enjoy the travel experience most discerning guests are seeking.
We have taken on board the dual role of airline and destination marketing and our messages are getting through with increased visitor arrivals and potential visitors researching about RB and Brunei.
Once the borders open up, we will increase our marketing in key markets to strongly push Brunei, our on-line dynamic packing tool has been enhanced to capture FIT market and our revised network plan has very strong focus on inbound tourism.
BTN: How will winning at the World Travel Awards help the carrier bounce back in 2021 after the challenges of this year?
KC: We are celebrating our 46th anniversary this year since incorporation.
We have established ourselves globally as a four-star, top 70 airline in the world.
Our strong service ethos coupled with the global recognition including this prestigious award is extremely valuable in international marketing.
We are one of smallest network carriers, competing with global brands and being able to showcase our brand through World Travel Awards and other well recognised global awards is extremely helpful when we are looking to partner with the global travel industry, corporates and positioning ourselves in the markets we operate.
Royal Brunei Airlines connects Brunei Darussalam to the world from its hub in Bandar Seri Begawan and has been serving the nation for nearly half a century.
The airline is a full-service carrier, offering year-round low fares with free meals, baggage and entertainment as part of its offer.
Find out more on the official website.