- BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
To achieve a high level of passenger satisfaction, excellent service quality should be delivered by airlines. This is because service quality is normally considered as an antecedent of passenger satisfaction. Service quality and passenger satisfaction are, therefore, key to the success and survival of any service organization (Adeola and Adebiyi, 2014). One of the means of competition among airlines is efficient service quality delivery. In 1960’s, the Nigerian Federal Government established Nigeria Airways as the national carrier which operated successfully for over two decades. However, at some point, the airline faced several problems and operational shortcomings which made the government to deregulate the aviation sector in 2011. This deregulation allows private airlines into scheduled domestic air services in Nigeria to replace the moribund national carrier. Presently, there are a number of scheduled passenger Airlines operating in Nigeria. They include; Aero Contractors, Azman Air, Arik Air, Dana Air, Discovery Air, First Nation Airways, Med-View Airline and Overland Airways (Aviation in Nigeria, 2015). Airline industry is an important contributor towards economic development. It has not only increased world trade activity by enabling faster and easier movement of passengers and tourists, but has also improves quality of life by broadening people’s leisure and tourism purposes grew strongly worldwide. Scheduled airlines carried more than 2.5 billion passengers last year and 40% of international tourists now travel by air. According to the IATA’s (the International Air Transport Association) air travel has grown by 8% per year. In the tourism market, the availability of large aircraft such as the Airbus 380 made it convenient and affordable for people to travel further to new destinations. In the aviation industry, service quality is a great competitive advantage for airlines profitability. Passengers are the most important factor in this industry, because airlines depend on their passengers therefore, companies have to understand the passengers need and want to deliver great experiences and high quality service (Kim and Lee, 2011). Understand the passengers’ determinants affecting to achieve the highest level of satisfaction. Further that a higher service quality can lead to a customer’s satisfaction, and then to positive behavioural intention. Increasing customer retention is a major key to the ability of a service provider to generate profits. Zeithaml et al (2016) focused on service quality as a highly needed for the airlines to improve their market share and enhance their performance (Dutt and Khan, 2009). Generally, the goal of airlines is to develop services that attract passengers and keep them satisfied to reflecting their positive experience to others. According to Hu et al (2009) the excellent service quality can increase levels of customer satisfaction, that lead to customer retention and encourage recommendations that helps the airlines to differentiate airline image from other competitors which will result in retaining existing passengers and enticing passengers from other airlines (Gures et al, 2014). Ghotbabadi et al (2015) argued that the customers who are satisfied tell others about their experiences and this increases advertising. In this way, airline industry increases the potential customers. Brady et al (2009) said that delivering high quality service to passengers is important for airline to survive and strengthen their competitiveness. So that proving high quality service by airline to differentiate itself from competitors is essential. Airline passengers tend to be loyal to particular airlines due to the traits of service. Even passengers who are not satisfied with service quality can keep on using a particular airline rather than switching to other airlines. Passenger satisfaction in airline industry has become critically important. Consequently, research related to service quality and customer satisfaction in the airline industry has been growing significantly (Siam et al, 2006). Service quality is one of the most attractive areas for researchers in aviation industry (Masarrat et al, 2014). However, this study will investigate the service quality dimensions that affect the passengers’ satisfaction in Dana airline to improve the service level. The recognition of airline service quality is much harder than that of other service. The airline service quality studies monitored passengers’ service focused on flight arrival and departure time, meal quality, in-flight service, check in and baggage claim time. Airline service quality is different from services in other industries, airline carry passengers to the destination using aircraft, and intangible services drives passengers’ experience such as on-time performance, in-flight service, and service frequency. Park et al (2013) focused on the seat size, cargo storage, type of aircraft, in flight meal, and flight attendants. Gronroos (2015) suggested that quality is a function of what the consumer actually receives and the way the service is delivered.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
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. Various studies have discovered that air travellers lament poor customer service by Nigerian airlines (Lawan, 2012; Dike, 2013; Adeola & Adebiyi, 2014). The findings reveal that most passengers condemned the airline operators for persistent flight delays, missing luggage, poor customer service by front desk officers of airlines, among others. Thus, Airline company managers in Nigeria are under increasing pressure to demonstrate that their services are superb and customer-focused. Therefore, the researcher attempts to examine the nature of relationship between airlines service quality and customer satisfaction among domestic airline passengers in Nigeria.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the effect of service quality on passenger satisfaction. Other general objectives of the study are:
- To examine how managers of Dana airlines do improve and promote satisfaction level among the passengers.
- To examine the most important service quality attributes that affects customer satisfaction preference.
- To examine the effect of service quality on customer satisfaction in Dana airlines.
- To examine factors influencing passengers satisfaction in the aviation business.
- To examine the relationship between service quality and passenger satisfaction of airlines in Nigeria.
- To examine the challenges faced by airline managers in improving on the service quality rendered to their passengers.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- How do managers of Dana airlines improve and promote satisfaction level among the passengers?
- What is the most important service quality attributes that affects customer satisfaction preference?
- What are the effects of service quality on customer satisfaction in Dana airlines?
- What are the factors influencing passengers satisfaction in the aviation business?
- What is the relationship between service quality and passenger satisfaction of airlines in Nigeria?
- What are the challenges faced by airline managers in improving on the service quality rendered to their passengers?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant effect of service quality on customer satisfaction in Dana airlines
H1: There is a significant effect of service quality on customer satisfaction in Dana airlines
H0: There is no significant relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction in Dana airline.
H1: There is a significant relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction in Dana airline.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
As the study is about effect of quality of service of airlines in the country, its significance will have a profound effect on airline operators in the country. It is necessary to periodically review airline service delivery to passengers, so as to ascertain the effectiveness and efficiency of service organizations in achieving their set objectives. If service is inefficient, passengers will be dissatisfied with the service offer and service organization may not be sustained in the long run. Where service is satisfactory but facilities are either inadequate or in a moribund state, quality is hampered. Therefore, evaluation of facilities is also important in service delivery. The findings of this study may prove very useful to airline operators in Nigeria. Specifically, they will facilitate airline operators to take decisive decisions concerning service delivery and enable them to identify areas where more attention needs to be imputed. Also, the work may be very useful to service planners and transport policy makers by helping to identify any area of service provision that need modification or improvement. Again, the work will enable operators to focus on the appropriate service quality attribute that satisfies passenger expectations. Passengers as well can use the work to ascertain or evaluate service performance of certain airlines in the country. Finally, this study is significant because it would contribute to the body of existing literature in the field of airline service and expand the frontier of research especially in Nigeria.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the effect of service quality on passenger satisfaction. The case of Dana air Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Service Quality: Service quality has been defined as the consumer’s or customers overall impression or evaluation of the efficiency of an organization or a firm’s services (Namukasa, 2013).
Satisfaction: It refers to the ability of a firm (in this case airline company) to provide its customers (or passengers) with the benefits that surpass their expectations in so doing give them a perception that some value has been added (Lucchesi, et al, 2015).