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One on One: Dr. David T.K. Ho, President & CEO, Harmony Airways

In spring 2003, Vancouver based upstart HMY Airways reversed the no-frills trend by launching full-service low-cost flights between its home base and Toronto.


October 1, 2007
By Darren Locke

Topics

In spring 2003, Vancouver based upstart HMY Airways reversed the
no-frills trend by launching full-service low-cost flights between its
home base and Toronto. More recently, HMY has changed its name to
Harmony Airways, added a third Boeing 757 to its fleet and is gradually
enlarging its scheduled route network with hopes to eventually reach
China.

What would you say is the key competitive advantage that Harmony brings to the airline industry?
Harmony
Airways is the only low-fare, full-service airline that offers the
least restrictive fares in the industry. We really do defy people’s
expectations of what a low-fare airline should be.

I do think
that many people are still not aware of Harmony Airways, but with media
communication and advertising of our recent name change and the
upcoming launch of new scheduled service to Honolulu and Maui from
Vancouver the awareness level will increase. Also. we are very pleased
with the word-ofmouth praise and very positive testimonials from people
who have flown on Harmony Airways.

How important is it maintaining this competitive advantage?
It’s
absolutely essential. Highcost airlines will be forced to reduce costs
or they will go out of business. So the industry’s cost structure will
come down. It will therefore be a constant challenge to find innovative
cost-effective solutions to all aspects of our business. The
introduction of the internet has brought a vast change to passenger
awareness of ticket prices and travel options. As this awareness has
grown, passengers have become increasingly outraged by the occasional
price gouging they experience when purchasing last-minute tickets.
Because of our high efficiency and simple approach to pricing, we are
working on winning that customer who wants to avoid the high prices of
last-minute travel. As an example, our highest walk-up fare (on the
Vancouver/Toronto route) for travel tomorrow is less than $500 one way.
Some of our competitors have walkup fares that are two to three times
our rates.

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Can you see the airline acquiring other types of jet aircraft as well, especially larger models?
This
is possible depending on how the universe unfolds. There is no secret
that Harmony Airways’ long-term vision includes operating to China, and
when the opportunity presents itself we would need to explore other
aircraft types to serve that market on a viable basis.

What kind of future do you see for Canada’s airline industry?
The
industry is still restructuring and this will likely continue for some
time. Competition will remain intense but at the end of the day only
profitable airlines will survive. Every carrier will have to determine
how it can differentiate itself in this environment, and this will be
challenging. The service gap is narrowing as some of the discount
carriers are adding frills and the high-cost carriers are reducing
frills.