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The influence of airline service quality on passenger satisfaction and


loyalty: The case of Uganda airline industry

Article  in  TQM Journal · August 2013


DOI: 10.1108/TQM-11-2012-0092

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TQM
25,5
The influence of airline
service quality on passenger
satisfaction and loyalty
520 The case of Uganda airline industry
Juliet Namukasa
Makerere University Business School, Kampala, Uganda

Abstract
Purpose – The general objective of this study was to examine the influence of airline service quality
on passenger satisfaction and loyalty. To achieve this, the research was guided by four specific
objectives to which data collection was effected mainly by interview method using fully structured
questionnaires.
Design/methodology/approach – The study used random sampling technique and it covered 303
respondents on international flights using Entebbe International Airport. Data were analyzed using
statistical package for social sciences 16, were w2 was used to test the hypothesis and regression
analysis was performed to examine the relationships between variables.
Findings – Findings indicated that the quality of pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight services had a
statistically significant effect on passenger satisfaction. In addition to that, passenger satisfaction as a
mediating variable also had a significant effect on passenger loyalty. It was noted that passenger
satisfaction differed from person to person as some were more interested in off board facilities, others
onboard, others in the quality of food while others wanted more extra luggage.
Originality/value – It was recommended that airline management should consider developing
various strategies for improving service quality based on demographic characteristics of the
customers such as occupation, age, gender and education level.
Keywords Customer loyalty, Customer satisfaction, Airline service quality, Competitiveness,
Airlines, Uganda
Paper type Research paper

Introduction
Nowadays the airline industry is characterized by heavy regulations which limit
airlines’ room for maneuvering and accessing global markets compared to other
industries which have paved ways for companies to transform into global players. This
has prevented airlines from becoming truly global businesses by impeding cross-
border merger and acquisition activities (Hanlon, 2007). To overcome the restrictions
imposed by this nationality rule, airlines formed global alliances as a means to secure
some of the benefits of a larger size and scope offer. Three major alliances namely Star
Alliance, Oneworld and Sky Team now dominate the competitive landscape (Doganis,
2006). Airlines furthermore have to cope with marginal profitability (Hanlon, 2007).
Therefore the delivery of high-quality service becomes a marketing requirement
among air carriers as a result of competitive pressure (Ostrowski et al., 1993). Moreover
airline passengers can experience many service encounters with front-line employees
as well as in-flight attendants, this is called “moment of truth”. Passengers may judge
The TQM Journal
Vol. 25 No. 5, 2013
or evaluate airline service quality through a comparison between their experiences and
pp. 520-532 expectations over a number of quality attributes (Grönroos, 2000) hence there is need to
r Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1754-2731
examine the influence of airline service quality on passenger satisfaction and loyalty
DOI 10.1108/TQM-11-2012-0092 because customer satisfaction holds a significant importance in corporate sector.
The airline industry in Uganda Airline service
Uganda is a landlocked country, air transport is therefore of strategic importance to the quality
nation as it guarantees an alternative gateway to the rest of the world. It provides the most
efficient and quickest transport means to Uganda and from the country to the rest of the
world. The development of a safe, efficient and reliable air transport industry is thus
among government’s priority programmes and Uganda’s geographical location in the
heart of Africa gives Entebbe International Airport greater advantage for hub and spoke 521
operations in especially the great lakes region (Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, 2012).
Uganda’s official national carrier Uganda Airlines was liquidated in May 2001 after 24
years of operations. Attempts were made by the Ugandan Government to privatize the
company, however, all interested parties which included British Airways and South
African Airways pulled out leading to the carrier’s demise (Centre for Aviation, 2012).

Problem statement
Excellent passenger satisfaction is one of the greatest assets for air businesses in
today’s competitive environment, the on board experience is still something special for
the customer, if the passenger is not satisfied with the quality of service, they will
reconsider the buying decision for further flights and will probably switch to another
airline (Archana and Subha, 2012). The research related to service quality and
customer satisfaction in the airline industry has been growing in interest because the
delivery of high service quality is essential for airlines’ survival and competitiveness
(Archana and Subha, 2012). A number of studies examining the effect of airline service
quality on passenger satisfaction have been carried out in other countries, for example,
Archana and Subha (2012) carried out such study in India, Huang (2009) in Taiwan,
Munusamy et al. (2011) Malaysia, Ahadmotlaghi and Pawar (2012) India and Mohsan
et al. (2011) in Pakistan and none of such study has been carried out in Uganda’s airline
industry which is a great motivation for this study.

General objective
The general objective was to examine the influence of airline service quality on
passenger satisfaction and loyalty.

Specific objectives
(1) to analyze the effect of pre-flight service quality on passenger satisfaction;
(2) to examine the effect of in-flight service quality on passenger satisfaction;
(3) to analyze the effect of post-flight service quality on passenger satisfaction; and
(4) to assess whether passenger satisfaction has a significant effect on passenger
loyalty.

Literature review and hypotheses


The aviation sector
The aviation sector has become the most important segment in the economic
development of a nation. It plays a vital role in moving people or products from
one place to another, be it domestic or international, especially when the distances
involved are far. In a highly competitive environment the provision of high
quality services to passengers is the core competitive advantage for an airline’s
profitability and sustained growth. Since the air transportation market has become more
TQM challenging, many airlines have turned to focus on airline service quality to increase
25,5 service satisfaction since service quality conditions influences a firm’s competitive
advantage by retaining customer patronage and with this comes market share
(Archana and Subha, 2012). Therefore delivering quality airline services to passengers
is essential for airline survival, since passengers are becoming increasingly sensitive
to quality.
522
Definitions of service quality, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty
Service quality can be defined as a consumer’s overall impression of the efficiency of
the organization and its services (Park et al., 2004) or as a chain of services in which the
entire service delivery is divided into a series of processes (Chen and Chang, 2005).
Most definitions of service quality depend on the context and therefore focus on
meeting the customers’ needs and requirements and how well the service delivered
matches the customers’ expectations of it. In the airline industry, service quality is
composed of various interactions between customers and airlines with employees
seeking to influence customers’ perceptions and the image of the carriers (Gursoy et al.,
2005). Though price is increasingly used as the primary way to attract customers;
some airlines are looking more to service quality to get a competitive edge by
distinguishing their products because competitors are relatively efficient in responding
to price changes ( Jones and Sasser, 1995). These airlines’ competitive advantage lies in
their service quality as perceived by customers (Chang and Yeh, 2002). Therefore
ensuring quality service is the key for survival of all businesses/industries dealing in
service offerings airlines inclusive.
Oliver (1981) defined satisfaction as “a person’s feeling of pleasure or
disappointment resulting from comparing a product’s perceived performance (or
outcome) in relation to his or her expectations”. While Hansemark and Albinson (2004)
defined it as an overall customer attitude towards a service provider, or an emotional
reaction to the difference between what customers anticipate and what they receive
regarding the fulfilment of some needs, goals or desire. The definition provided by
Oliver (1981) has been used for this study. Therefore it is very important to satisfy
customers because nowadays most of them have exposure to a variety of information,
they are more familiar with the present trends in technology, very well educated and
more demanding in the products and services they require.
Customer loyalty can be defined as “a deeply held commitment to re-buy or re
patronize a preferred product/service consistently in the future, thereby causing
repetitive same-brand purchasing despite situational influences and marketing
efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior” (Oliver, 1997). Chin (2002)
stated that an attractive frequent flier program (FFP) could actually contribute to
increased loyalty from the repeat business of an increased number of customers
and numerous studies have revealed that customer satisfaction positively affects
loyalty (Mohsan et al., 2011; Fornell, 1992; Anderson and Jacobsen, 2000). Therefore
airline companies need to review and re-examine their strategies in order to sustain
customer loyalty.

Effect of pre-flight service quality on passenger satisfaction


In order to achieve customer satisfaction, organizations must be able to build and
maintain long-lasting relationships with customers through satisfying various
customer needs and demands which resultantly motivates them to continue to do
business with the organization on an on -going basis (LaBarbera and Mazursky, 1983).
Therefore it is presumed that pre-flight service quality has a significant effect on Airline service
passenger satisfaction, thus: quality
H1. Pre-flight service quality has a positive significant effect on passenger satisfaction.

Effect of in-flight service quality on passenger satisfaction 523


Ng et al. (2011) stated that in-flight services offered by flight attendants affected
customer satisfaction. Airline passengers may experience many service encounters
with in-flight attendants, this is called “moment of truth”. Passengers may judge or
evaluate airline service quality through a comparison between their experiences and
expectations, over a number of quality attributes (Grönroos, 2000) since most services
are intangible. Thus because of this intangibility, most companies find it difficult to
understand how customers perceive their services. Therefore in-flight attendants
should focus on tangibles by communicating to the customers the features of the
service being provided. Thus it is presumed that in-flight service quality has a
significant effect on passenger satisfaction:

H2. In-flight service quality has a positive effect on passenger satisfaction.

Effect of post-flight service quality on passenger satisfaction


An after-sales service constitutes a means to uncover extra customer needs and
a strategic driver for customer retention. Oliver (1997) demonstrated that extremely
satisfied customers are much more likely to remain loyal to firm than those who are
merely satisfied. Hence it is presumed that post-flight service quality has a significant
effect on passenger satisfaction:

H3. Post-flight service quality has a positive significant effect on passenger satisfaction.

Effect of passenger satisfaction on passenger loyalty


A study by Mohsan et al. (2011) revealed that customer satisfaction was positively
correlated with customer loyalty. It further stressed that, there was need for airline
companies to always look into the needs and demands of their customers in order to
survive and compete successfully in today’s dynamic corporate environment. While
Fornell (1992) found that high customer satisfaction would result in increased loyalty
for the firm and that customers would be less prone to overtures from competition.
Thus the underlying assumption is that passenger satisfaction is positively associated
with passenger loyalty:

H4. Passenger satisfaction has a positive effect on passenger loyalty.

Conceptual framework
It gives a more detailed insight on the variables that influence passenger satisfaction
and loyalty in the airline industry based on pre-flight service quality, in-flight
service quality and post-flight service quality. The variables were developed from the
extensive review of literature related to the study (Figure 1).
TQM Pre-flight Service

25,5 • Reliability
• Responsiveness H1
• Discounts

In-flight Service Quality


• Tangibles Passenger H4 Passenger
524 • Courtesy
H2
Satisfaction Loyalty
• Language skills

Post -flight Service Quality


Figure 1.
• Frequent flyer programs
Airline service quality H3
• Timeliness

Pre-flight service quality


Quality of service is very important in ensuring customer satisfaction because
frequency of bad experiences will impact a customer’s perception on the company
(Munusamy et al., 2011). For example, if customers receive rude services from the same
airline consistently they will be dissatisfied with the services and eventually, these
customers might decide to take their businesses elsewhere. Therefore in this study, it is
anticipated that pre-flight service quality (such as reliability of airline web site,
discount offers, responsiveness to emergency situations like cancelled flights and
baggage allowance have an influence on passenger satisfaction and loyalty).

In-flight service quality


In a study by Ng et al. (2011) stated that in-flight services offered by flight attendants
affected customer satisfaction. Therefore in order to develop a good customer service,
the in-flight crew should put emphasis on tangible cues in order to create a strong
organizational image. Hence it is suggested that in-flight services such as (safety
percussions, seat comfort, quality of food, in-flight entertainment services, language
skills and courtesy of in-flight crew) affect customer satisfaction.

Post-flight service quality


Post-flight services like offering FFP, promptness of baggage delivery and retrieval are
regarded as important factors that have an impact on establishing good relationships with
customers which eventually influence satisfaction and loyalty. In order to survive and
grow, airlines regardless of place of operation, have to be both internationally competitive
and must continuously improve all aspects of their operations (Doganis, 2006).

Research methodology
Research paradigm
Positivist paradigm was adopted because it relies mainly on statistical and
quantitative estimations to arrive at a conclusion.

Population and unit of analysis


The population was made up of 13,558 passengers based on Uganda’s international
seat capacity per week by carrier for the selected airlines between 28 November 2011
and 4 December 2011 (Centre for Aviation, 2012). It comprised of international
passengers who had at least travelled once in the last 12 months with the selected
airlines operating at Entebbe International Airport. This meant that the participants
had a clear view about airlines’ services. These airlines included: Air Uganda, Precision Airline service
air, Kenya airways, Rwanda air and Fly 540. In order to ensure fairness and accuracy of quality
the study, airlines registered within East Africa were chosen. Compared to other
regions in Africa, East Africa forms a relatively homogeneous group of countries in
many respects. This homogeneity creates a favourable environment towards the
emergence of an integrated air transport market. Entebbe airport was chosen because
it is the one that handles international flights in Uganda. 525
Sample design
This study adopted convenience sampling. Sampling was done by interviewing
randomly selected passengers, waiting for their flights at different times of the day, on
every day of the week, during the period 19 July to 15 August 2012. A structured
questionnaire was used for data collection. The questionnaire was divided into five
sections, the first section was about the demographic profile of respondents and
second, third and fourth sections were designed to evaluate passengers’ overall
experiences with the quality of services they had received from the airlines and the last
was dealing with the effect of passenger satisfaction on passenger loyalty.

Sample size
Krejcie and Morgan (1970) table was used in determining the sample size of a randomly
chosen sample from a given finite population of 13,558 based on Uganda’s
international seat capacity per week, by carrier for the selected airlines between 28 –
November 2011 and 4 –December 2011 (Centre for Aviation, 2012). Krejcie and Morgan
(1970) table indicates that if the study population size is 13,558, a statistically
representative sample size should be 378 respondents. However, out of the 378
questionnaires that were distributed, a total of 303 questionnaires were complete and
had valid responses, 75 questionnaires were incomplete hence they were removed. The
number of passengers sampled per airline was based on how busy the airline was at
the airport during the period 19 July to 15 August 2012.
The actual sample size of 303 respondents was valid for this study, because studies
which had dealt with passengers as a unit of inquiry had relatively dealt with sample
sizes ranging from 270 to 602, for example, Archana and Subha (2012) sampled 270
respondents; Munusamy et al. (2011) sampled 300 and Huang (2009) sampled 602
respondents. Also (Roscoe, 1975 in Sekaran, 2003) proposed some rules of thumb in
determining sample size of which one of it stated that, “sample sizes larger than 30 and
o500 are appropriate for most researchers”. It has also argued that in order to use w2, the
overall number of items should be at least 50 (Kothari, 2004) hence the actual sample was
fairly enough and suitable for models which were to be used in data analysis (Table I).

Data collection methods


Data were collected using both primary and secondary data sources. Primary data
were collected through the use of structured questionnaires which consisted of five
sections on the following aspects: respondents’ profile, quality of pre-flight services,
in-flight services, post-flight services and the effect of passenger satisfaction on
passenger loyalty. The questions were phrased in the form of statements scored on a
five-point Likert type scale, ranking from 1 “strongly disagree” to 5 “strongly agree”.
The study was conducted in the departure hall of Entebbe International Airport.
Questionnaires were distributed to respondents who had under taken at least one
international flight in the previous 12 months with the selected airlines. Face-to-face
TQM Population
25,5 (total number of
seats per week) between Intended Actual
Carrier airline name 28/11/11 and 4/12/11 sample sample

Air Uganda 4,392 72 58


526 Kenya airways 6,280 158 127
Precision air 564 65 52
Rwanda air express 948 51 41
Table I. Fly 540 aviation 1,374 31 25
Sample frame Total 13,558 378 303

interviews of passengers waiting for their flights were conducted at Entebbe airport.
A total of 303 sets of usable questionnaires were successfully collected yielding a
response rate of 80 per cent. To reduce the refusals to participate or to answer specific
questions, the researcher contacted passengers politely by explaining the purpose and
contribution of the research.

Reliability and validity


Cronbach a was used to test the internal consistency for all items under respective
variables. Hair et al. (2006) suggested that Cronbach’s a coefficient over 0.6 is adequate
for basic research. The reliability of each construct was assessed by using Cronbach’s a
measure which in the experiment was ranging from 0.645 to 0.850, indicating that the
scale are internally consistent and reasonably free of measurement error. To ensure the
perfection of the study tool, a pilot study was also conducted (Table II).

Data analysis
Data were analyzed using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) version 16. w2-test
was used as a way of testing the hypothesis and regression analysis was performed to
examine the relationships between variables. This is in line with what was used in similar
empirical studies, for example, Munusamy et al. (2011) used Pearson correlation and
multiple regression analysis while Mohsan et al. (2011) used Microsoft excel and SPSS 16
to analyze data. Descriptive statistics was used to provide an overview on the profile of
international passengers using Entebbe International Airport.

Interpretation and discussion of findings


Hypotheses results
w 2 was used in determining the relationships and significance of the variables. Testing
of hypotheses was at 95 per cent level of confidence interval and results from this were

Sl.No Factors Number of statements Number of cases Cronbach’s a

I Pre-flight 8 303 0.723


II In-flight 8 303 0.819
Table II. III Post-flight 3 303 0.645
Reliability of various IV Passenger satisfaction 3 303 0.704
service factors V Passenger loyalty 6 303 0.850
used to reach the conclusions. To verify the causal relationships, regression was used Airline service
for determining the correlation coefficients amongst variables: quality
H1. Pre-flight service quality has a positive significant effect on passenger satisfaction.

In the study, respondents were asked to express their opinions on different items that
measured pre-flight service quality on a five-point Likert scale that ranged from 1 527
(strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Results showed that seven out of eight
measurable indicators of pre-flight service quality had a significant effect on passenger
satisfaction since they scored w2-values that were above the table value of 26.296 and
also registered significant values less than the critical value of 0.05. It can therefore be
concluded that pre-flight service quality has a positive significant effect on passenger
satisfaction. This is in line with findings by (Munusamy et al., 2011) whose results
showed that pre-flight service quality had a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
These results imply that if airline companies are to achieve a high level of customer
satisfaction, they should deliver a high level of service quality, as it is normally
considered an antecedent of customer satisfaction.
In addition to the w2-test, correlations of indicators of pre-flight service quality were
regressed against passenger satisfaction to confirm the results got from the w2-tests.
Regression results showed that there was a significant positive relationship between
pre-flight service quality and passenger satisfaction. Findings also indicated that from
among the measurable indicators of pre-flight service quality prompt response to
emergencies (r ¼ 0.434) and reliability of airlines’ web site (r ¼ 0.429) were among the
strongest contributors to passenger satisfaction compared to price charged (r ¼ 0.337) and
baggage allowance (r ¼ 0.122). Results therefore implied that improvement in the quality
of pre-flight services offered by airline companies would result into passenger satisfaction:

H2. In-flight service quality has a positive effect on passenger satisfaction.

From the respondents’ opinions, all the measurable indicators of in-flight service
quality had a positive significant effect on passenger satisfaction since they all
registered significant values of 0.000 that were less than the critical value of 0.05. This
concurs with the findings by Ng et al. (2011) who confirmed that in-flight services
offered by flight attendants affected customer satisfaction. The findings imply that in-
flight services are one of the key drivers of ensuring passenger satisfaction (Table III).
Additional analysis was performed were in-flight variables were cross-tabbed and
regressed against passenger satisfaction in order to confirm the results got from w2-tests.
Results from table below at 95 per cent confidence interval revealed that indeed in-flight
service quality had a significant effect on passenger satisfaction because all significant
values were 0.000 which was below the critical value 0.05 that is to say ( po0.05).
This therefore confirmed that there was a significant positive relationship between
in-flight service quality and passenger satisfaction. Amongst the in-flight variables,
comfort and cleanliness (r ¼ 0.460), safety (r ¼ 0.400) and quality of food (r ¼ 0.397) had
more impact on passenger satisfaction compared to employee appearance and crew
uniforms (r ¼ 0.268) This therefore implies that airlines should improve on their in-
flight services, for example, quality of food, safety measures and comfort of seats since
they have higher impact on passenger satisfaction (Table IV):

H3. Post-flight service quality has a positive significant effect on passenger satisfaction.
TQM In-flight service quality variables w2 Df Sign Status
25,5
1 I feel safe when I fly with this airline 85.831* 16 0.000 Significant
2 The aircraft has clean and comfortable
interiors and seats. 1.500E2* 16 0.000 Significant
3 Employees of this airline appear neat
528 and tidy 1.192E2* 16 0.000 Significant
4 The airline provides quality food 99.534* 16 0.000 Significant
5 The cabin crew of this airline is
friendly and has good language skills. 1.296E2* 16 0.000 Significant
6 The airline provides good in-flight
services consistently 79.790* 16 0.000 Significant
7 My in-flight experiences with this
airline has exceeded my expectations 89.575* 16 0.000 Significant
Table III.
8 The in-flight services that this airline
w2-test for in-flight service
offers are worth what I pay for 69.843* 16 0.000 Significant
quality and passenger
satisfaction Note: *Critical value at 0.05 significance ¼ 26.296

In-flight service quality variables R R2 Significance

1 I am less worried when I fly with this airline because I feel


safe when I fly with it 0.400 0.160 0.000
2 The aircraft has clean and comfortable interiors and seats 0.460 0.212 0.000
3 Employees of this airline appear neat and tidy and I like the
crew uniforms 0.268 0.072 0.000
4 The airline provides quality food (Cuisine ) and beverages 0.397 0.158 0.000
5 The cabin crew of this airline are friendly and have good
language skills 0.365 0.133 0.000
6 The airline provides good in-flight services consistently 0.380 0.144 0.000
7 My in-flight experiences with this airline has exceeded my
Table IV. expectations 0.355 0.126 0.000
Regression of in-flight 8 Considering the in-flight services that this airline offers;
service quality on they are worth what I pay for 0.301 0.091 0.000
passenger satisfaction Overall in-flight service quality 0.507 0.257 0.000

From Table V, all the three post-flight indicators registered w2-values above
the table values of 26.296 and indicated significant values less than the critical
value (0.000o0.05). These results indicate that the quality of post-flight services
has a significant effect on passenger satisfaction. Oliver (1997) demonstrated that
extremely satisfied customers were much more likely to remain loyal to firm than
those who were merely satisfied. Therefore this implies that a company has
to create customer relationships that deliver value beyond those provided by the core
product (Table V).
Further analysis was performed to identify the causal relationship amongst these
variables were by indicators of post-flight service quality were regressed on passenger
satisfaction. Results indicated that there was a significant positive relationship
between the quality of post-flight services and passenger satisfaction. From the
indicators of post-flight services, passenger comments and concerns (r ¼ 0.503) had
more predictive power on passenger satisfaction because it had a higher correction Airline service
coefficient compared to the FFP (r ¼ 0.325): quality
H4. Passenger satisfaction has a positive effect on passenger loyalty.

Results from Table VI show that passenger satisfaction has a significant effect on
passenger loyalty. This concurs with previous studies by Parasuraman et al. (1988) and
Anderson and Sullivan (1993) who concluded that customer satisfaction was one of 529
the major determinants of customer loyalty. This aspect is strengthened by Lin and
Wang (2006), whose study concluded that customer satisfaction influences customer
loyalty. This relationship has been investigated in previous studies for example findings
by (Yang and Peterson, 2004) suggested that customer loyalty can be generated
through improving customer satisfaction and offering high product/service value.
Therefore delivering high quality in the airline industry should be recognized as the
most effective means of ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Conclusion
In general the study findings have coincided with other studies that the quality of
airlines’ services has a significant influence on passenger satisfaction and loyalty.
Findings indicated that pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight services had a significant
effect on passenger satisfaction. In addition to that, passenger satisfaction as a mediating
variable also had a significant effect on passenger loyalty. The study results imply that
airline marketers should develop various strategies to improve service quality, for
example, meeting passengers’ desired service levels, improving the quality of in-flight
meals, solving service problems effectively, developing convenient reservation and
ticketing systems, making convenient schedules for passengers and reducing the effect
of service failures as these directly affect passenger satisfaction and loyalty.

Implications of the results to the various stakeholders


Managerial implications to the airline companies
The results of this study highlight to management that safety and security are the most
important in-flight service quality dimensions in international air travel as perceived

Post-flight service quality variables w2 df Sign Status

1 The airline has a sound loyalty programme to


recognize you as a frequent customer 62.255* 16 0.000 Significant
2 This airline has efficient baggage handling 66.676* 16 0.000 Significant Table V.
3 My concerns are highly valued by this airline 1.316E* 16 0.000 Significant w2-test results for
post-flight services and
Note: *Critical value at 0.05 significance ¼ 26.296 passenger satisfaction

Passenger satisfaction variables w2 df Sign Status

1 In comparison to other airlines, am satisfied with the Table VI.


airline’ services 1.560E2 16 0.000 Significant w2-test results for
2 Am satisfied with this airline’s personnel 89.604 16 0.000 Significant passenger satisfaction
3 This airline values customers’ comments 1.100E2 16 0.000 Significant and passenger loyalty
TQM by airline passengers. This may be as a result of the 11 September 2001 terrorist
25,5 attacks, the Iraq War and the constant threat of terrorism. To address the public’s
growing concern about air travel safety, airlines should be receptive to consumer input.
Airlines should inform the public of their continuous drive to provide a safer flying
environment and should publicize the security improvements of the international air
travel industry to boost consumer confidence.
530 Government policy makers
Government should reduce on the ill-conceived policy initiatives that over-regulate and
excessively charge high taxes from airline companies as this limits airlines registered
within East Africa from competing effectively with other airlines from other nations due to
economic hardships. This prevents aviation from being the catalyst for economic growth.
Based on the study findings, the effect of airline service quality on passenger
satisfaction and loyalty imply that a company with good airline services is more likely
to stand out in the market place because it draws both repeat customers and trial users
Therefore airline companies should strive to be consistent with the quality of services
they offer to their passengers.
Recommendations
Customers have to be actively involved in the service process to ensure their satisfaction
and commitment (loyalty) in the long run. The coordination of the different airline service
components, as well as their incorporation in a clear and integrated communication
strategy further supports the creation of a harmonious brand image in customers’ minds,
which is the basis for the development of relationships between customers and the airline
and, this could result into the development of true customer loyalty.
Airline companies should strive for value creation and appropriate allocation of
resources in international air travel by creating more realistic consumers’ expectations
about the promises that airlines make as this may increase the level of passenger
satisfaction, for example, through meeting customers’ desired service levels, dealing
effectively with dissatisfied customers and confronting customer complaints positively.
This will enable management to differentiate their brand from other airlines in terms
of service quality.
Suggested areas for further research
This study was limited in the context of airline services for international passengers.
Domestic passengers’ opinions on the influence of airline service quality on
passenger satisfaction and loyalty might be different from that of international
passengers. Hence, an empirical examination needs to be undertaken in order to assess
how domestic passengers’ opinions are different from that of international passengers.
The airline industry is subject to strict controls and tight regulation requirements
in the provision of services resulting from an increase in customer involvement and
continuing demand for more security regulations on the part of airlines. This may
affect the quality of airline services and later passenger satisfaction and loyalty,
therefore further research into airline travel should consider the impact of airline
regulations and controls on passenger satisfaction and loyalty.
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Further reading
Zeithaml, V.A. and Bitner, M.J. (1996), Services Marketing, Tata McGraw Hill, New Delhi.

Corresponding author
Juliet Namukasa can be contacted at: jnamukasa@mubs.ac.ug

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