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Tourism opinion

Business lessons to be learned from 1time airline

In the preceding week I was looking forward to my flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg over the weekend. However my excitement was short lived; on Friday afternoon I was one among the thousand of people who heard via e.tv news that 1time Airline had filed for liquidation.
Upon hearing this on Friday afternoon I frantically went to their website in hope that they would have an explanation for their clients only to find that their website was now offline. I then called their call centre and there was no answer. My next step was to visit their Facebook page, still nothing was said of ticket holders instead their latest post was reiterating what I had heard earlier on the news. There was no notification as to whether or not ticket holders would be accommodated on another airline OR reimbursed. As a customer who had paid for her ticket, I was extremely disappointed by their lack of communication and poor customer service.

Despite my frustration and annoyance at the situation, on Saturday morning I made my way to the Cape Town International airport in hope that since we had not received any communication from them they had managed to make arrangements with other airlines. Sadly this was not the case, rather we all arrived to vacant check-in counters at the airport. On the one hand I empathised with their staff members where their reality of unemployment was concerned. On the other hand, I was extremely disappointed with the airline's failure to notify us (their clients) of the indefinite suspension of their services.

No communication - just when we really needed it

As a business 1time Airline had succeeded in using a multiplicity of communication tools to engage their clients, yet they failed to use the very same tools to communicate with us when we needed them most. May this experience serve as a lesson for all businesses on what NOT to do when you (as a business) are faced with a challenge.

Herewith what I believe 1time should have done:

• Put a disaster management team in place
• Communicated transparently with their clients
• Kept the website functional BUT closed the booking page. And used the home page to inform their clients and ticket holders of the latest developments.
• RESPONDED to telephone calls to avoid creating panic and frustration among clients.
• Not left it up to other businesses to clean up after them. Taken responsibility.
• Used communication tools the company has at their disposal to inform their clients of the cancellation of flights.
• Been active and responded to Facebook posts
• COMMUNICATED with their clients

When all is said and done, the company's ethical conduct remains questionable: they knew of this liquidation and yet they still belied their clients by allowing us to purchase tickets an hour before the public declaration of liquidation. Importantly, we would greatly appreciate knowing when we as your clients can expect to be reimbursed for our tickets.
    
 

About Nthabeleng Meso

I have been in Cape Town since 2003 to pursuit my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. I founded Mesong Web Design & Marketing Solutions, which offers web design and development, graphic design, marketing consulting and supply of marketing material. The company believes there are several solutions to challenge, hence its mantra: "Bringing You Light". Not limited to entrepreneurship, I am an athlete, a writer and a blogger inspired by the beauty and challenges of everyday life. Follow @MesoNmeso on Twitter.
Tim Pinder
Sadly Nationwide employed the same disgusting tactics. Shut down and don't communicate. Does nobody learn that that is not how to do it? Really piss poor 1 Time. You make it difficult for every other airline as a result. Our trust has been betrayed by your shocking lack of integrity.Business needs to take a damn hard look at how you conduct yourselves in these times. You can not take peoples money and not expect a back lash when you do this! 1 Time Senior management should face criminal prosecution for their actions. And never be allowed to work in the industry again.
Posted on 6 Nov 2012 10:22
Claudia Liebenberg
Agree with Tim - Nthabeleng, as I read your article, I had flashbacks of April 2008 as I too was booked to go on a nice holiday to CT. I follow up annually with Tshwane Trust but NO NEWS. Just some explanation that no PR campaign can hide. Top mngt ought to go and learn from the best instead of blaming national airline.
Posted on 6 Nov 2012 15:13
Ann Druce
Unlike Velvet Sky, 1Time had announced that they were on shaky ground and were under business rescue, so I think it is a bit harsh to blame a lack of integrity. If anyone, blame the business rescue consultant.
Yes, of course they should have advised clients all flights had been cancelled, but I think it unreasonable to expect them to keep on staff after liquidation as they would, in all likelihood, not be paid.
I reserve my distain for SAA and Mango who compete unfairly with on-going bail-outs from the unwilling taxpayer.
Posted on 6 Nov 2012 15:16
Tim Pinder
I don't think that taking peoples money, knowing that you are about to go into receivership is great display of integrity. That is just downright deceitful.

I was not aware of any communication letting people know of an impending problem.
Posted on 7 Nov 2012 08:14
Tim Pinder
So you are saying that you condone taking peoples money, knowing that things are about to go belly up? So it is the old caveat emptor in South Africa. In other words never support the little guy, because if anything goes wrong - sorry for you. I can't support that thinking. I sleep well at night.
Posted on 7 Nov 2012 13:29
Tim Pinder
So you are saying that you condone taking peoples money, knowing that things are about to go belly up? So it is the old caveat emptor in South Africa. In other words never support the little guy, because if anything goes wrong - sorry for you. I can't support that thinking. I sleep well at night.
Posted on 7 Nov 2012 13:30
Ann Druce
Missing weddings, connections to international flights, trips to say goodbye to a sick family member, an expensive holiday or even a boring but necessary meeting are emotional issues, and so it is only natural that people are angry and distressed.

But since 1time had publicly announced they were under business rescue (a formal process, governed by the Companies Act, whereby the company continues to trade), calling for the heads of company management is not reasonable.

The sad truth is that many people get hurt in an insolvency – suppliers and staff as well as customers – and it is a great pity that this ailing company was not salvageable.


But since 1time had publicly announced they were under business rescue (a formal process, governed by the Companies Act, whereby the company continues to trade), calling for the heads of company management is not reasonable.
Posted on 7 Nov 2012 16:19
Paul Manson
Just out of interest Nthabeleng, would you have done the web changes and social media campaign for free.... remember they were liquidating so no suppliers would be paid nor would any staff be eager to work once they have been told they are retrenched with immediate affect. Difficult place to be in.
Posted on 8 Nov 2012 07:08
Tim Pinder
Anne. I was not aware that 1 Time had put out any communication telling the public that they were under business rescue. I guess that sort of vindicates them. I sure wouldn't be parting with my money under those conditions. The sensible thing would be to go with with a financially healthy airline!
Posted on 8 Nov 2012 15:44
Nthabeleng Meso
Point is they knew they were on shaky grounds. Therefore they should have prepared better. There was no notification sent to ticket holders but they continued to let customers but tickets after they announced that they were liquidating. Now what is that?
Posted on 12 Nov 2012 22:23
Pippa Wepener
I do not beleive that the staff and even management knew that the company was going into liquidation as I was in their ofices the day before and assured that everything was improving and even discussed sports proposals for some athletes I am working with. I had a very good meeting with their Customer Services Manager who could not have been more positive. However, I do believe that the Chairman 'Blackie' was fully aware of what was happening and I believe that he should be held personally responsible for refunding the losses.
Posted on 19 Nov 2012 10:16
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