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Why So Many Charter Airlines In Europe?  
User currently offlineNYCFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1387 posts, RR: 10
Posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6571 times:

As an American, I've never really understood the concept and purpose of charter airlines. Hope some of you can answer a few questions I've always had.

-Why are there no charter companies in the U.S. when they proliferate in Europe?

-What defines a charter airline? don't they still have regularly scheduled service just like a non-charter carrier? is there some service they offer that non-charters do offer, and vice-versa?

-What market niche do the Euro charters fill, that other Euro mainline and LCCs don't fill? why haven't the mainline legacies and LCCs put the charters out of business? with less-regular service, I'd think charter airlines would be less desirable.

31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineOrion737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6545 times:

There are a lot less than they were a few years ago.

Much consolidation in the European IT sector has taken place. Many indeopendent airlines have been swallowed up by the big tour operators like TUI.

Here in Britain we have lost Caledonian, Flying Colours, Excalibur, Orion, Inter European, Novair and countless others.

Its a shame because all these airlines provided good service and had lovely colour schemes.

TUI got greedy and has even destroyed our lovely old Britannia name!


User currently offlinePlanesarecool From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 4121 posts, RR: 11
Reply 2, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6539 times:

A typical charter airline is one that supplies flights for holiday companies. They operate to typical holiday destinations (Ski flights mainly in the winter and sun flights in the summer).

There are more in Europe because the typical holiday destinations for Americans (Caribbean, Canada, Hawaii) are all served by "schedule" carriers, therefore there is no real need for them. In Europe, you do get schedule flights between the origin and the destination for some places (mainly Spain, Portugal etc), but for the numerous destinations in the Greek Islands for example, the only direct way to get there is by charter airlines, so this is the product they supply. Although now with most charter airlines you can book flight-only, rather than a whole holiday package.

-Stephen


User currently offlineJmc757 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2000, 1298 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6521 times:

Hello! Basically, what defines a charter airline is that all seats on their aircraft are sold to tour operators. Charter airlines are not allowed to sell their own seats (in the U.K. anyway), all seats are sold through tour operators. Usually this is for 7 or 14 day holidays. You book the holiday including the flights. You can book seat only on these flights, even from the airline's own website, but you are still booking with a tour operator. That's the difference. Yes they operate a regular 'scheduled' service, but its all in who markets the seats.

It all came about in the 60s/70s when such tour operators began providing affordable holidays to the public at large. Scheduled operators were too expensive and often didn't even fly to the required destinations. Therefore the charter airline was born, specifically to take these passengers. This is why we see infrequent schedules, i.e. Uk-Tenerife mainly Tuesdays and Fridays.

In recent years, with the loco boom things have started to change. Tour operators and associated charter airlines have seen their market eaten away at bit by bit. They have adapted in many ways, some have set up their own lo-cost airline, all have started selling flexible seat onlys, and First Choice have even kitted their long haul aircraft to better spec than BA and Virgin!

As to why you don't have so many in the States? Probably because the way you holiday is very different, you don't really need to go abroad, you can get a scheduled flight reasonably competitive to pretty much anywhere, therefore no need for the charter airline.

Hope this helps, think I've covered most bases!


User currently offlineThomasCook From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 796 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6494 times:

Hi,

- There is Charters in the USA isn't there? You have Apple Vacations and USA 3000 of the top of my head? In North America, Canada have Skyservice Airlines as well.

- Charter flights usually come with package holiday deals which include the service of a travel agent, the airline, hotel transfers, resort representative and your hotel and board basis. The service differs from full service airlines as (in one way) most UK charter airlines now charge for meals bar MyTravel Airways and Astraeus. The flying programmes are not as frequented as a scheduled airline and charter flights go to many places that scheduled airlines don't such as Santorini or Kefalonia in Greece, Bodrum in Turkey and Agadir in Morocco as examples. Flights to these destinations are normally once weekly but the more popular resorts such as Tenerife or the Costa Brava have many flights per week per charter airline.

- People enjoy package holidays as it is so much easier for them. After the LCCs arrived a lot of people migrated but are slowly returning to Tour Operators as figures show. Why? I suppose you have the benefits in the UK of ABTA and ATOL if a company goes bust. A prime example was the demise of BHX based LCC Duo Airways as when they went bust, thousands where stranded with no way of getting home, plus it often works out so much cheaper and offers flexibility and peace of mind.

Hope this helps!

Regards
ThomasCook



A380 Crew
User currently offlineA321fly From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 59 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6461 times:

From a charter airline you come to expect no meals for free and no pre booked seats for free, no drinks for free and so on.

Hold on people moan and complain about this... how much did they pay as a flight supplement out of the package holiday brochure.. £10 or something like that.

Basicially its companies running planes to there full capacity, a B757 is charter is 235 seats, and a A330 for example run by many charter operators have 350 + and have 3 - 3 - 3 with 30" seat pitch. (With the exeption of First Choice, well done to them).

Yet when they come back from these trips they complain, leg room was bad, meals were bad, service was bad. They fail to mention they paid £10 in some cases £0 for the flight in the first place. (holiday and so may have price added on but that not the point).

First Choice is the only charter airline now to have a Premium service on some of its shorthaul aircraft namely the A321 (great aircraft it is too). 4 rows of 33" for those who want to pay as little as £19 return.

It really does bug me though when people complain about charter airlines.

Oh and finnally i think they arnt around in the US because they know they cant get away with it. Even Condor (Thomas Cook) in Germany has more leg room than its UK sister.

[Edited 2005-02-23 22:48:36]

User currently offlineOrion737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6436 times:

It is only of late that charter airlines have offered terrible service. In the 80s airlines like Air Europe, Monarch and Air 2000 did much to improve the charter flight; operating modern aircraft, improving meals, which were included in the cost, provided in flight entertainment, boiled sweets on take-off. Lots of little touches.

Its only now that Thomas Cook group and TUI have the market almost sewn up that they can now charge for meals.


User currently offlineA321fly From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 59 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6424 times:

Quoting Orion737 (reply 6):
Its only now that Thomas Cook group and TUI have the market almost sewn up that they can now charge for meals.


I have to agree that since the demise of the small charter companys e.g Flying Colours and even the Britannia name there has been a decline in quality of service offered.

Luckily some airlines still very much independent compared to Thomas Cook and Tui for example First Choice and Possibly My Travel still offer a very good and cost effective service to this date and hopefully into the future.


User currently offlinePlanesarecool From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 4121 posts, RR: 11
Reply 8, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6420 times:

Orion737,

The charge for meals is taken off the price as some people don't want meals on some flights (who wants a meal at 1am for example). Therefore if you buy a meal then you pay the fare that it would have been before, if you don't then you get charged less. Its a benefit, not a con.

-Stephen


User currently offlineA321fly From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 59 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6401 times:

Quoting Planesarecool (reply 8):
who wants a meal at 1am for example).


The trouble is most flights arnt at that time, if they are they may have been in the air for hours anyway. I would certianly want a meal though on any flight.

Although £10 is never the price they pay for a meal from the catering company so in a way that is a little bit of a con.


User currently offlineThomasCook From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 796 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6396 times:

Hi,

Quoting A321fly (reply 7):
Luckily some airlines still very much independent compared to Thomas Cook and TUI for example First Choice and MyTravel still offer a very good and cost effective service to this date and hopefully into the future.


Well said mate!

Regards
ThomasCook



A380 Crew
User currently offlineJmc757 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2000, 1298 posts, RR: 7
Reply 11, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6386 times:

A321, people have payed a lot more than £10 for their flight, make no mistakes. The price they payed for the holiday includes the flight cost, the supplements are for regional airports or nice flying times (they charge it because they can!). I enjoy flying charter, everyones happy cause they're off on their holidays!

User currently offlineA321fly From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 59 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6371 times:

Quoting Jmc757 (reply 11):


Quoting Jmc757 (reply 11):
A321, people have payed a lot more than £10 for their flight, make no mistakes. The price they payed for the holiday includes the flight cost, the supplements are for regional airports or nice flying times (they charge it because they can!). I enjoy flying charter, everyones happy cause they're off on their holidays!


Yes i know i was just using £10 as it was the first thing that popped into my head. Oh yes and thats another thing now the Fuel Levy and Security charges push the prices up.


User currently offlineOrion737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6341 times:

I used to enjoy flying charter, when airlines had identity and a proud spirit. Now they are just no-frills in all but name and I wont fly them again.

User currently offlineNYCFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1387 posts, RR: 10
Reply 14, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6332 times:

hi, thanks everyone, those were especially helpful commentaries - esp. Orion737, JMC, Planesarecool, and Thomas Cook.

Here's a follow-up then - since charters serve markets like Tenerife and Santorini nonstop from London, why don't BA, BD or others follow suit? If Delta can serve the Caribbean island of Grenada nonstop from JFK (at least 2 or 3 times per week), why can't BA do the same to Tenerife from LGW? I don't see why the majors haven't started flying to these smaller destinations to put the charters out of business once and for all. Doesn't U2 go to most of these charter destinations too?

Is it because holidaymakers who want to go to Tenerife would rather do MyTravel for the add-on services, than BA (with better service) or U2 and have to plan hotels and other services on their own? How much is an all-inclusive 7-day charter holiday to one of these places?


User currently offlineThomasCook From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 796 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6312 times:

Hi,

Places like Santorini are served well by charter airlines and are summer only destinations hence why only charter carriers serve them. Plus islands like Santorini are so small, there isn't a large catchments area to justify scheduled flights.

easyJet only flies to Athens is Greece and mainly only the large tourist destinations in Spain and Portugal. They don't currently serve the Canaries, the only LCC who does is MyTravelLite.

BA and others would be so expensive to these areas that people just wouldn't pay when they can have everything included for half the price plus, not have the hassle of arranging accommodation etc...

A 7 night package in Tenerife's resort of Puerto Santiago with MyTravel's main tour operator - Airtours, would cost about £294 each in the height of Summer flying ex LGW. In-Flight meals are free, there is not fuel supplement with MyTravel but understandably, a fuel charge of £10pp. Also included is the service of the Group, resort transfers, ATOL and ABTA protection and baggage allowance of 25KG per adult.

Regards
ThomasCook



A380 Crew
User currently offlineNCLairport From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 240 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6278 times:

I really enjoyed flying charters. Orion737 I had totally forgotten anout Inter European until you mentioned it in your post. I flew with them to Corfu. Great service. Added extra's I've had on charters such as Air 2000 include:

Sweets for take off and landing
Warm/wet towel after meal
blankets & pillow
service with a smile.

Non of the above seems to happen now on charters because of the mergers etc...



Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to Newcastle
User currently offlineMdsh00 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 4124 posts, RR: 8
Reply 17, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6270 times:

Quoting NYCFlyer (reply 0):

-Why are there no charter companies in the U.S. when they proliferate in Europe?


Not necessarily true. TZ used to (and I believe still does) charter whole flights to Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays.

I think another factor is that Americans have less vacation time than their European counterparts.

[Edited 2005-02-23 23:47:20]


"Look Lois, the two symbols of the Republican Party: an elephant, and a big fat white guy who is threatened by change."
User currently offlineCarpethead From Japan, joined Aug 2004, 2954 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 6171 times:

In a simple nutshell, American companies cater to all (business people and leisure). While in Europe, the majors like AF, BA, LH cater primarily to the business pax leaving the back of the plane for a handful for low-paying leisure pax.

Airlines in Asia are similar to American carriers as their product is geared for business pax & vacationers. Something that is much easier to accomplish in a A330, 777 or 744. Pack the low-fare paying pax in the back and pamper the high-paying business pax up front.

Incidentally, Europeans also have much more vacation/holiday time than anywhere else in the world.


User currently offlineGKirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 24936 posts, RR: 56
Reply 19, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 6116 times:

Flying charter airlines rule  Big thumbs up

Apart from the crying babies on a 2am flight from TFS  Sad



When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently offlineJohnboy From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 2592 posts, RR: 7
Reply 20, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 6110 times:

Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays has made great use of ATA for its Hawaii and Mexico flights (in fact the L1011's used to have Pleasant Holidays on the fusilage for some flights out of SFO).

I'm trying to search my brain to think of some "whole package" companies in the US, but I'm drawing a blank. In the Bay Area, there are ads every week for Pleasant Holidays, but it seems many of the flights are using scheduled carriers such as United nowadays.

UPS was running some charter flights to Aruba/Cancun out of SDF (and other cities), but have since stopped that "experiment."

Cancun especially, and the Dominican Republic seem to have more of the type of charter flights/vacation packages that seem more common in Europe.


User currently offlineFoxiboy From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 208 posts, RR: 4
Reply 21, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 6100 times:

Well the charter airline i work for do not charge for meals,and we offer hot towels after the meal service,yes even sweets b4 take off/landing. Yes we charge for drinks like all other charter companies on a holiday flight,but our flights to india and ghana the drinks and IFE is free,and also on the holiday flights if you headphones are compatible with our system then you can view for free.
Not all charter airlines in the UK are the same some are better than others.


User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 16
Reply 22, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 6094 times:

Quoting A321fly (reply 5):
First Choice is the only charter airline now to have a Premium service on some of its shorthaul aircraft namely the A321 (great aircraft it is too). 4 rows of 33" for those who want to pay as little as £19 return.


Incorrect. Monarch offers Premium Service on some of their short hauls (with extra leg room, meals and drinks included, improved IFE etc) and they were the first UK charter airline to do so - First Choice followed them. See http://www.flymonarch.com/cnt/chartered/upgrades.asp Excel also offers upgraded services on shorthaul either Excel or Premium. See http://www.xl.com/Customer_Info/additional_Prem.asp


Quoting ThomasCook (reply 15):
They don't currently serve the Canaries, the only LCC who does is MyTravelLite


It is becoming difficult to identify when My Travel is offering services as a charter company and as a LCC. Most MyTravelLite flights to the Canaries are on ordinary MyTravel planes with MyTravel flight numbers. However Monarch offers scheduled flights from Manchester and Luton to TFS and these are dedicated LCC scheduled flights that bear the flight numbers beginning with ZB as opposed to the charter flight codes beginning with MON.

GB Airways flies to all the major Canary airports including both Tenerife North and Tenerife South, currently from LGW but soon also from MAN. Their flights are operated as BA franchise flights and the fares on offer are often less than many charter airlines.



MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 16
Reply 23, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 6058 times:

Many European charter airlines were established because of the boom in inclusive tours. As far as the British are concerned, pre-1960s only the wealthy or the adventurous travelled abroad. The average Brit could not deal with foreign languages, foreign customs and foreign food, so booking a flight to (say) Greece, then booking the hotel without speaking the native language, and finding their way about when they arrived, probably seemed as risky for them as an attempt to climb Mount Everest.

The inclusive tour was developed whereby not only was the flight and hotel booked, but all other arrangements were handled by the tour operator for their customers. I seem to recall that the first inclusive tour for British was organised by a Russian businessman and the destination was Corsica.

There were problems in arranging the flights for inclusive tours. The scheduled carriers were not interested (perhaps they saw their business was under threat) and the amount offered by the tour operators was insignificant. Furthermore, they did not serve many of the tourist hotspots that started to develop. To get round the problem of transporting their passengers, the tour operators turned to smaller airlines and chartered whole aircraft. The business boomed and other smaller airlines jumped on the bandwagon. Soon the tour operators found benefits in running their own airlines. With more people wanting to travel, standards of living increasing and more leisure time, many charter airlines were established

Why is this any different from the USA? I think it is probably because of geographical boundaries - people living in New York or Chicago could travel to Florida for sun, sea and sex. If flying, there would be an US airline operating between home and their holiday destination. People living in England, Germany or Norway would be forced to venture outside their country for hot and sunny places, and this is why an inclusive tour becomes necessary.

In recent years, particularly with the boom in LCC who now serve the tourist hot spots, tourists are more willing to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements. This has had an effect on the tour operators and charter airlines, many of who are now either becoming a LCC scheduled carrier or perhaps establishing a subsidiary LCC.



MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlineCornish From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 8187 posts, RR: 54
Reply 24, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 6044 times:

Also bear in mind, particularly out of the UK, there are a number of the traditional Med, Southern Europe holiday resorts which are too far away to make operations by low cost carriers profitable, where they look for short sectors of around 2 - 2.5 hrs max to enable the most aircraft rotations per day. The likes of the Canary Islands, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, major package holiday destinations for Brits, remain charter territory and will for the foreseeable future. It is the likes of the Spanish resorts that are seeing the big increase in low cost carriers attacking traditional charter markets. Additionally, more people are becoming more independent in their holiday booking habits. They will find a hotel and then look for the cheapest flight, rather than necessarily buy one complete package. also more people have property or timeshares in the Med, making the need ofr a package irrelevent, and the idea of a low cost scheduled flight attractive.


Just when I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, it was some B*****d with a torch bringing me more work
25 Captaink : Excel offers three class configuration on their 763 flights to the caribbean on behalf of Golden Caribbean. They have Excel ONE, Excel Premium and Eco
26 Post contains images Airbazar : BCAL gave a very good explanation. I'd also like to add onto what others I've said. Europeans have more vacation and venture further away than America
27 BCAL : Thanks for the compliment but the above quote is not quite true for Brits. The majority of British have 20-days annual paid leave, excluding bank hol
28 DesertJets : Also throw into the mix that Americans still tend to take to the road in their own cars on vacation. Whether it be a long weekend trip to the shore, o
29 Slider : One other thing no one has mentioned with regard to charter carriers in the US vs Europe is the major difference in certifications between the two. In
30 Slider : One other thing no one has mentioned with regard to charter carriers in the US vs Europe is the major difference in certifications between the two. In
31 Soups : Floxy, if u r talking about Flyjet? yes you do offer free drinks limited t two per passenger
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