The Design of a Large Scale Airline Network

world-airline-routes-map_5091826b7f654.jpgBy Rafael Bernardo Carmona Benítez

Fundamental changes in the air passenger transport system have occurred as a consequence of the government and customer requests for opening new services in new markets. Airlines have to analyze and decide what new routes to operate. First, countries and states with high increments of gross domestic product (GDP) are more attractive to open airline services (i.e. China, Brazil). Second, the level of deregulation at different countries allows airlines to find new routes and new networks to invest in other carriers or open services (i.e. Copa and Continental Airlines). Third, low fares, offered by low cost carrier’s (LCC’s), appear to be the main cause of the increase passenger flow worldwide [Carmona Benitez, 2012]. Fourth, the evolutions of the LCC’s have increased the possibilities of airports to increase their revenues and pax flow by opening more routes operated by LCC’s. Finally, points one to four will occur in many countries after their Civil Aviation Authorities eliminate restrictions on routes and fares giving the opportunities for airlines, airports, federal governments, states and investors from other countries to find new opportunities by identifying the right networks to serve.
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Can low-Cost Long-Haul Flight Operations be Profitable?

By Jost Daft and Sascha Albers

Hitherto, sustainably profitable low-cost operations can only be observed among short- to medium-haul airlines. Even though various carriers have launched attempts to extend the low-cost carrier (LCC) business model to long-haul flights (LHF, see the subsequent chapter for a definition), most of them failed before flight operations were initiated or went bankrupt after three to five years if flight operations started. However, the frequency with which new low-cost LHF airlines are founded is still considerable (see Tab. 1). Entrepreneurs as well as established airlines seeking new growth paths are among those in the industry that follow what seems to be a trial-and-error process in launching and operating LCC LHF airlines. This is not particularly surprising, since little systematic guidance on preconditions for and design options of a LCC LHF business model have been advanced. Rather, the scholarly literature has given only scant attention to the challenge of adapting the low-cost model to LHF, and the question of whether the low-cost long-haul model is economically viable has not been unanimously answered yet.

LCC Seating Simulation

A unique opportunity came by just two weeks ago. A well-known LCC based at Luton flew in an A319 and actually provided volunteers with flight vouchers for boarding this aircraft. (Not only that, free food was promised as well).

As a campus pick-up was also included, it was too hard to let this chance to board an aircraft and not actually fly to some idealic destination, go by. On a sunny and very cold morning some 150 people had to assemble at a parking lot to get a clipboard with questionnaires and make-believe boarding passes and a large bib with a number on it (that you were supposed to wear).

At Luton we were not allowed to shop at the tax free area and the entire herd was escorted to the gate where as in a proper simulation we just had to wait in the hall prior to the gate. Then we had to wait in the area with these four lanes A, B, C and D with our first boarding pass at hand. When your lane was called to board, a walk across the tarmac to the A319 started.

This first time we were allowed to board via either front or back jetty into the aircraft. The weather was nice and the small wait on the steps good enough to look around to other aircraft coming and going. The following times there was a mixture of assigned seating and assigned jetty to board.

Well as you as a aviation-passionate might not see coming, but after boarding, filling in the questionnaire, deplaning and waiting in the designated line does become a little bit annoying after some time, when your hungry as well. This feeling reminded me of Henry Mintzberg’s book; Why I Hate Flying, Tales for the Tormented Traveler (ISBN 1-58799-063-6). A friend lended this to me, and I can surely recommend it. Especially if you work for an airline!

Now this was when it became really evident that this LCC had little experience with providing free lunch for 150 people. Although the food as we saw it from the end of the line was that good, that it finished within minutes, it was definately not in line with the twenty minute turn around time. It almost felt like it took twenty minutes to refill the empty trays. I guess with legacy airlines you usually get a lousy sandwich (goat cheese or fish) that won’t take twenty minutes to waste your time on.

After some time we could enjoy our lunch as well and actually this was the only point in the day that we could really nag about. It was good fun, especially to find out the logic behind the seating or to try to sit next to friends. The last questionnaire asked us about our seating preference (whether or not allocated). Well as it was anonimous, you are just going to have to wait until this LCC might change their seating strategy to find out my preference…

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