Singapore Airlines turbulence accident: How has perception towards the carrier been impacted?

Samuel TanAPAC Data Journalist / B2B Content Manager
June 05, 2024, 3:14 AM GMT+0

On 21 May, Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ321 encountered severe turbulence while travelling from London to Singapore, resulting in the death of one passenger and serious injury to seven more.

The accident came just days after the flag carrier announced that eligible employees could receive around 8 months bonus, after posting a record annual profit for the last financial year.

But to what extent has SIA’s brand image been impacted by the accident – and how does consideration of the airline compare against major rivals in the immediate aftermath?

Latest data from YouGov BrandIndex indicates that news of the recent accident has spread widely in Singapore. The carrier’s Buzz score (which measures whether consumers have heard more positive or negative things about a brand in the past two weeks) plunged over 35 points from 54.7 on May 21 to 19.2 by May 31 – finishing 18 points lower than at the start of the month. Meanwhile, its WOM Exposure score (which measures whether consumers have recently talked about the brand with their family and friends) spiked almost 14 points since the accident – from 42.7 on May 21 to 56.5 by May 31 – suggesting consumers are not just noticing the news but discussing it too.

SIA’s service quality and corporate reputation, however, saw only slight dips in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Consumer perceptions of the airline’s Quality dropped about four points over the following week – from 69.3 on May 21 to 65.4 by May 31 – but remains almost three points higher than on May 1 (62.5). Likewise, the airline’s Reputation score (which measures whether residents would be proud or embarrassed to work for the brand) fell by 2.3 points over the same period – from 66.9 on May 21 to 64.6 by May 31. But the metric nevertheless finishes the month close to six points higher than it started it (58.9), indicating that any damage caused to the brand’s reputation has been offset by other factors over the course of the month.

In contrast, consideration of SIA as a potential travel provider has taken a noticeable hit. Its Consideration score (which measures the percentage of consumers who would consider flying with the airline on their next trip) lost almost 15 points following SQ321’s mishap – falling from 68.0 on May 21 to 53.3 by May 29. Having noted that, it appears to have started on an upward trend thereafter to recover to 55.9 by the end of May.

Nonetheless, despite the significant fall in the proportion of consumers who would who would consider booking their next flight with SIA, it remains by far the most considered airline in Singapore.

With Singapore Airlines tightening its in-flight service protocol in the wake of the accident, including completely suspending meal service when the seat-belt sign is turned on, how will consumer perception towards the flag carrier change? YouGov BrandIndex’s daily tracking of consumer perceptions towards the brand will allow interested parties to see just how much – and how soon.

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Methodology: YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. Buzz scores are based on the following question: “Over the past two weeks, which of the following brands have you heard something Positive/Negative about (whether in the news, through advertising, or talking to friends and family)?" (Net score). Quality scores are based on the following question: “Which of the following travel and leisure brands, do you think represents good / poor quality?” (Net score). Reputation scores are based on the following question: “Which of the following travel and leisure brands, would you be proud / embarrassed to work for?” (Net score). Consideration scores are based on the following question: “When you are in the market next to purchase Travel and Leisure products, would you consider buying from Singapore Airlines?” Figures are based on a 1-week moving average. Learn more about BrandIndex.

Cover Photo by Jeffry Surianto