I'm not disputing that a lack of quality is hurting things further, but at the end of the day, price will still trump quality for a sizeable portion of the traveling public, and there's nothing they can do about that.
Consider the desire of a lot of these airlines to set up LCC/leisure-oriented subsidiaries. LH
's Jump. AC
's Rouge. IAD
's Vueling. On a lot of routes, the full-service product can't compete because no matter how nice it might have been, it was no match for the LCC competition because of the cost. Air travel, for whatever reason, isn't like hotels and such where there are significant enough portions of people willing to pay a premium for a better product. If anything, the prevalence of LCCs proves my point. If quality was really that important, airlines like NK, G4, FR, U2, etc. wouldn't even exist. Product quality doesn't matter as much as people like to think it does, even though it should. I know I pay more to get a better product on my flight and even aircraft types I like more, but I know that I'm not your everyday customer in that sense.
Simply put, the airlines are calling the bluff of the public. KL
could put the nicest cabin in existence onboard their aircraft and the ME3 will still eat their lunch because they just have to undercut them on price and they'll win. The ME3 are to the legacy long-haul carriers what airlines like FR
are to the short-haul operations of those carriers, although the ME3 have the added bonus of being able to offer a great quality product at lower prices.
I do agree that it's sort of a catch-22 because with competition gone, that also removes the incentive to offer better service, but I just don't think that the people here who fly on the ME3 would suddenly switch back if the American and EU airlines beefed up their offerings. Looking at it from the other side, there's no way that EK
is able to fill all those A380s based on product quality. They're filling them because they can operate them at cost levels that American and EU carriers couldn't match without shafting their employees drastically.
[Edited 2015-12-20 08:39:37]