Q&A: Looking after premium Travellers

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Q: What services does Menzies Aviation provide to travellers?

A: In South Africa, Menzies provides an end-to-end service for travellers including full check-in, ticketing, lost and found, wheelchair and services to unaccompanied minors. We also provide security services for our airline clients. For VIP clients we offer meet and greet services. For VVIP clients we can offer a tailored solution for almost any requirement. Invisible to the passenger, we also load and unload, service and trim the aircraft as well as clean it, and handle the baggage and cargo on board.

Q: In terms of ground handling services, have there been any improvements made this year?

A: Once again our on-time performance has been excellent with our operations on the coast continuing their record of never having delayed an aircraft. In the bigger, more complex airports we’ve worked hard to achieve the multiple goals of better service delivered more efficiently, safely and securely.

Q: Do you see baggage pilferage and loss of baggage becoming less of a problem?

A: For us we believe we have always had a market leading position in South Africa in terms pilferage or otherwise mishandled bags. Of course, we’re not perfect, but our pilferage rates are very low, and many of the cases where we have experienced it have been successfully investigated and prosecuted by our excellent Security Department. I can honestly say we’ve had as many good experiences and compliments where staff hands in lost items for passengers as we’ve had incidences of pilferage. Our mishandled bag rates are in many cases less than the IATA international average – unfortunately not something that South African airports could boast about in the not too distant past!

Q: What is Menzies’ focus for next year?

A: Menzies’ focus for next year is to continue our great service while remaining safe and secure. We’ve also got a number of options on the table for growing our business in South Africa and beyond.

Q: How did the company perform during the World Cup?

A: The World Cup really couldn’t have gone better for us! We made a conscious decision very early to ensure our long-term customers’ interests were paramount, and to that end we didn’t over commit ourselves to short-term charter business. That being said, we took on a lot of extra flights and every member of staff from top to bottom worked extremely hard to ensure it was a huge success.

Q: When were the Menzies airport lounges introduced and why?

A: Our Shongololo lounge in OR Tambo’s International Terminal opened in 2009 to fill what we perceived as a gap at the upper end of the lounge market. Airlines and passengers were complaining to us that they had no option but to sit in crowded, poorly served lounges so we decided to break the mould. The Shongololo lounge is sold as a premium product and we carefully avoid ever getting to the stage where it’s ‘standing room only’ or that the bar or food options are exhausted! Of course, we charge a premium price for this, but I think we’ve caught the mix just right. We also manage BA’s international lounge for them in Johannesburg where our staff is invisible to the travelling passenger, looking smart and professional in BA uniform.

Q: Where else in Africa are your lounges located?

A: Elsewhere in Africa we have business-class lounges in Accra, Ghana; Niamey in the Niger and in Cotonou, Benin.  All have lifted the level of quality significantly from that previously available in those airports.

Q: Do you plan to expand into other parts of Africa?

A: Yes, we are in the process of expanding and have recently won our first ground-handling licence in East Africa. This will be announced in more detail in due course once contracts are signed.

Q: What can business travellers expect from the Menzies airport lounges?

A: When a business traveller visits a Menzies lounge they can expect great service, a friendly welcome and high quality surroundings in which to relax before their flight.

Q: How much of the company’s focus is dedicated to airport lounges?

A: We have a prominent department whose job is to concentrate on premium services, including VIP and VVIP services and lounges. This department reports to a senior manager who is separate to the mainline ground and cargo handling operation to ensure it retains the full focus it requires. I also take a close personal interest in these services and inspect our operations and lounges regularly.

Q: Are there any new products/services in the pipeline?

A: There are! But at the moment they are at the development stage and I can’t reveal too much other than to say that once again I think they will be warmly welcomed by the premium travellers’ market. Watch this space!

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