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Need I say Moores

What’s in a name?

Have you ever considered how dated some everyday words are? In a car, you have a “glove compartment” and a “parcel shelf”, dating back to a bygone era. Are country-specific airline names similarly dated?

Things tend to be named based on what came before. Take mobile phones as an example. Do you actually own a phone that isn’t cordless? When the car was invented, it was referred to as a horseless carriage. The radio was the wireless, now we have "wireless" internet. You still get a "key" in a hotel, even though it’s a card. Films are actually digital and horsepower is rarely provided by horses. Do you own a “personal” computer? Even the word aircraft has a vintage ring when you come to think about it.

In Europe, we have airlines steeped in long and proud history which used to be known as the flag carriers of their country. Airlines, like Air France, carry their nation’s name as part of their identity. National culture and heritage are used as an asset, but the perception of an entire nation is a huge brand to handle.

Look at the new(er) generation: EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air. These carriers have steered away from national branding and been succeeded in becoming pan-European, with bases and operations outside of their home market. These are the guys who are profitable, who are using European market liberalization to full advantage.

Scale, when handled well, brings down unit costs, increases revenues and makes an airline competitive. By identifying with one country, your local loyalty may be strengthened, but in foreign markets you are foreign – for better or for worse. 

The last time I spoke with Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi, I asked him how important it was to have a neutral name. He replied: “Going European is essential to the business model. I would even take it one step further, this business model can go into North Africa, Asia; it can go anywhere. Customer needs are universal anyway. I don’t see that those customer needs are contained, or limited, to certain regions.”

In a market as fragmented as Europe, stressing that you belong to just one part of that market may have heritage, but it may also come with a cost.

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Need I say Moores

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