Jeffrey Goh took over as CEO of Star Alliance on January 1, 2017. Before that, he was COO at the Frankfurt headquarters of the Star Alliance organisation. In the following interview he gives some insights into what motivates him and the priorities he sees for Star Alliance in the coming years.
Tell us about your experience in aviation.
As an undergraduate I had an opportunity to write a dissertation on regulation and I chose to focus on the area of aviation. I never looked back. My doctoral thesis, research activities and legal practice all focused on aviation and I later worked at IATA before coming to Star Alliance. While I have never worked at an airline, my entire career has been focused on this fascinating business.
So how did you come to choose aviation?
There is never a dull moment in this industry. It is constantly evolving and highly competitive. It is a sector where total deregulation will never be possible. There are very specific complexities in aviation which bring all sorts of challenges – in terms of government stance and even the actions of the airlines themselves. But where there are challenges there are also opportunities, it is just a matter of identifying them on an ongoing basis.
Since joining Star Alliance in 2007, what has been your best moment so far?
For me personally: when I first joined the senior management team that runs the Star Alliance organisation based in Frankfurt and had the opportunity to liaise constantly with our member airlines to understand their vision and needs. In addition, I always have a great satisfaction in integrating new member airlines to the Alliance, particularly when there are obstacles to overcome or we expand to a significant new market.
What are some of the challenges that Star Alliance will face in the coming years?
This industry is never static and we have seen many changes in recent years – such as low-cost carriers, low-cost subsidiaries and joint ventures. The Alliance keeps adapting to these challenges and this has strengthened us. When joint ventures are created, an airline usually looks first to a partner it knows within the Alliance. And our new Connecting Partner model creates an innovative way for airlines with differing business models to link up with us, without becoming a member. Above all, we need to continue ensuring that we deliver the promises we make to the alliance customers and to differentiate ourselves with leading-edge customer experience.
Do you have any ideas or future plans you would like to share?
The Star Alliance Chief Executive Board, which includes all member airline CEOs, has just signed off a new strategy for Star Alliance for the next 10 years. At its heart is the “Digital Customer” who wants real-time information updates. That person also expects proactive help, particularly when operations are disrupted. As an example, if a flight is cancelled the customer wants to have all the information and decide which alternative flight to take, without waiting in line or in a phone queue for an agent to assist. The new digital approach has much wider implications for interaction with customers. It is a new era in aviation and it is exciting to be at the forefront of that.
What is your message to the employees of our member airlines?
Star Alliance is a force for you! Let us together re-energise the Alliance for our joint customers. We want customers to have a great experience whichever airline they fly on. We will be working to provide new and better tools that support employees at all of our airlines in doing what they do best – namely giving the best possible service to all of our customers, Alliance-wide.
What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?
Sports, learning about different cultures, and cooking, particularly for friends at home.
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