The elements of the service quality mix are an important consideration for airlines in deciding on the level of service provision offered by their airline. This study aims to determine passenger expectations of service quality as perceived by airline managers working at long haul airlines operating in South Africa. The extent to which passenger expectations inform airline strategy is also examined. Gap 1 of the SERVQUAL model, the difference between managers’ perceptions of customer expectations and customer expectations, is used to frame the research problem. Within this, the five dimensions (also considered antecedents of service quality) proposed by the SERVQUAL model are examined to determine the relative importance. Airline managers and travel industry managers perceptions are found to be similar with both groups ranking reliability as the most important dimension to passengers, echoing results seen with passengers. Trust and safety emerges as important themes within the reliability dimension. The tangibles dimension is found to be the least important to passengers, yet is rated as the area that is considered the primary area of investment by airline respondents. Overall, airline managers’ perceptions of the relative importance passengers place on the dimensions of service quality match those found in the literature. Their financial investment strategies, though, do not match the elements of the service quality mix found to be important to passengers.
Key words: Service quality mix, airline industry, South Africa.
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