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It Does Not Make Sense For Airlines To Lose Money  
User currently offlineTonytifao From Brazil, joined Mar 2005, 1019 posts, RR: 0
Posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7535 times:

Ok... what makes US airlines different from other countries airlines?

Take TAM (JJ) for example. They had their largest profit in 2004. I thought fuel was cheaper in the US than in any other country.

How does UA and DAL lose so much every month? Not only that, they have cut billions from labor and etc. These higher fuel costs just doesn't make sense to me.

maybe you guys can explain it better.

Thanks,
Tony

39 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAAFLT1871 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 2333 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7495 times:

Look at the competition you have here with so many legacy carriers and Low Cost Carriers.

AA UA DL NW US WN F9 Airtran, JetBlue, America West, Independence, AA Eagle, Delta Comair, are you starting to get the picture? There is simply not enough people flying to fill the plates of all of the airlines above. That is the way I look at it.

Robbie



Where did everybody go?
User currently offlineTonytifao From Brazil, joined Mar 2005, 1019 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7451 times:

I still think the load factor is pretty high for airlines I fly.. UA and AA. And I'm paying a lot for their tickets. Just got tickets to Vegas from MCO to LAS for end of April.... ticket cost me 630 dollars on the schedule I want. Very pricy I think.

UA reported record high load factor, but a operation loss 151 in Jan/2005.

I still can't see that much loss.


User currently offlineIowaman From United States of America, joined May 2004, 4391 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7414 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

Quoting AAFLT1871 (Reply 1):
There is simply not enough people flying to fill the plates of all of the airlines above.

Yes there is, in record numbers higher than ever before.

UA is losing so much money because of competition, high fuel costs, and other reasons, but those are the main two. They also have quite a few amount of different aircraft types (733,735,757,A319,777,etc.). With yields poorer than ever and fuel costs higher than ever (with the exception of the oil crisis in the 70's, but they didn't consume as much fuel as they do now) makes for a bad combination.



Next flights: WN DSM-LAS-PHX, US PHX-SJD. Return: US SJD-PHX, WN PHX-MDW-DSM
User currently offlineSkidmarks From UK - England, joined Dec 2004, 7121 posts, RR: 55
Reply 4, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7411 times:

If US airlines are anything like the ones in UK then the waste in other areas is phenominal. Waste like taxiing spares around the country to get an A/C servicable, like the managements having company cars and large expense accounts, like ridiculously inflated prices for spares simply because it is for "the aviation industry". Antiquated and restrictive practices which encourage waste rather than deter it.

All these factors contribute toward the enormous cost of running an airline and why, I suspect, that many US airlines are skint. Because I know quite a few European airlines are also running on a shoestring and some may not see out the year.

Anyway, thats my thoughts on the subject.

Have a nice day

Andy  old 



Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional
User currently offlineAAFLT1871 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 2333 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7389 times:

Quoting Tonytifao (Reply 2):
still think the load factor is pretty high for airlines I fly.. UA and AA.

While the load factor may be high, the selling price of the tickets are not

Quoting Tonytifao (Reply 2):
And I'm paying a lot for their tickets

The majority of the public is not paying that much, you know it is bad when I can get a coast to coast ticket from BWI/IAD/DCA to LAX for under $250.00 round trip. In the early 90's I would fly to DFW from DCA several times a year on AA, my cheapest ticket back then was $318.00, now I get emails from AA with fares at $139.00. Does this make sense? And coast to coast used to run around $500.00.

Quoting Tonytifao (Reply 2):
Just got tickets to Vegas from MCO to LAS for end of April.... ticket cost me 630 dollars on the schedule I want

Again 90% of air travelers will take the cheapest flight they can get, no matter the time of day it is. I also will be in Vegas on April 14th >>>17th, me and 9 friends are going down for a weekend of gambling and another friends wedding. They left it up to me to find the cheapest direct route there. I booked through America West and got the only nonstop flight out of DCA to LAS for $182.00 a person round trip. Now America West is the only airline that can fly this route nonstop!! Why sell it so cheaply? They could charge more and get it!

Quoting Tonytifao (Reply 2):
Very pricy I think.

Yes, it is!!!

Quoting Tonytifao (Reply 2):
UA reported record high load factor

Now do not forget TED is tied into that, and on TED you have once again cheaper tickets!!



Where did everybody go?
User currently offlineStarrion From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1126 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7370 times:

The legacy airlines also face very large health-care and pension costs. Those that have older fleets have expensive maintenance costs and the tickets prices that people are paying are not covering the bills. That's why the majors are trying to dump their pension plans.

The newer carriers don't have a lot of these costs and can -and do- charge less for a ticket. The legacies have to match those prices and lose money as a result.

Too many airlines and the newer ones don't have the costs that the older ones do.



Knowledge Replaces Fear
User currently offlineGothamSpotter From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 586 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 7325 times:

FLL-NYC last minute coach fares
Amtrak: $167
Greyhound: $123
United (via ORD): $60

Something is definitely wrong.


User currently offlinePhilSquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 7300 times:

High load factors don't mean anything more than crowded aircraft. What is important is the CASM (cost/available seat mile) versus RASM (revenue/available seat mile).

The legacy carriers problems are in several areas. First their costs are out of line with the LCC. That imbalance is the result of several things, outdated work rules, several layers of management resulting in high overhead costs, varied fleet types. The second big issue for all airlines in the US, is simply overcapacity. There are too many seats chasing too few passengers. How do you get more passengers? By reducing your fares, thus reducing your RASM. However, if you don't have a corresponding decrease in the CASM you're asking for trouble.

Ironically, the Legacy carriers problems started in 2000. The US economy was entering a slow down and the first casualty was the business traveler. The high yield traveler, the person the airlines could not afford to lose.

It is funny, because all the major airlines in the US seem to suffer from amnesia. The airline industry is a cyclical industry. Everytime profits are at record levels, the airlines order new aircraft and have a completely irrational business plan. But the cycle continues. This time, no one counted on the price of oil being where it is today...


User currently offlineArt From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 3382 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 7215 times:

I think it makes sense for legacy airlines to lose money

a) when they are governement owned. Historically, state owned airlines have not been efficiently run and their owners have shied away from implementing the changes necessary to make them efficient enough to run at a profit.

b) when there is structural overcapacity in the market. The US Chapter 11 safety net serves to maintain the overcapacity problem to the detriment of all.

c) where some significant component on the cost side alters for the worse, dramatically and quickly (eg fuel)


User currently offlineMrniji From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 7187 times:

Quoting Tonytifao (Thread starter):
How does UA and DAL lose so much every month?



Quoting AAFLT1871 (Reply 1):
Look at the competition you have here with so many legacy carriers and Low Cost Carriers.

I completely agree with the staements as response to the valid and good question of Tony. Overcompetition has lead to a price war, which causes airlines to cut down costs dramatically in order to avoid losses.. The price war (in economic words: perfect competition) has resulted in airlines being forced to cut down dramatically and not being able to make proifits..

Sometimes, a little more regulation can be better for all actors.. regulation does not necessarity lave to contradict liveralism per se, but can distribute free market forces more equally  Wink - to delve in the latter topic, have a look at an older, in my eyes fantastic thread:

http://www.airliners.net/discussions...general_aviation/read.main/1781908
[economic liberalism vs. regulation]

Hope this helps a little, let's see what others say


User currently offlineRegis From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 7157 times:

Quoting Tonytifao (Thread starter):
Take TAM (JJ) for example. They had their largest profit in 2004.

You have to look at the Brazilian civil aviation market to understand JJ's revenues. TAM's 2004 record profit is largely due the near monopoly they enjoyed in the Brazilian domestic market in 2004. Throughout 2004 and the year before TAM established an alliance (now defunct) with rival VARIG by which they both controlled 75% of the of our country's market. TAM and VARIG fooled our antitrust authorities by labeling their alliance a "code-share agreement" and went on to unify their fares, routes and bookings. It was one stop short of a merger and this no-competition situation led to fare and revenue increases. I don't deny that TAM is an extremely well-run airline, but how hard can it be to turn a profit when you have 3/4 of the market in your hands? The JJ-RG alliance is supposedly over now. With the two biggest Brazilian airlines again competing we will see if TAM is able to repeat their 2004 performance this year.

Quoting AAFLT1871 (Reply 1):
Look at the competition you have here with so many legacy carriers and Low Cost Carriers.

Aptly put AAFLT1871.



[Edited 2005-03-18 12:48:58]

User currently offlineSunking737 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2041 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 7121 times:

I agree with most of what is being said. Yes, fuel is high and going higher. But most carriers are afraid to give up market share. All the big carriers don't want to give up a piece of the pie.

They are all want to be's....They want to be like WN, but WN started out that way.

My airline watches every penny that is spent. Do we need it, do we really have to have it. If we buy it will it pay for its self over time.

Give the passengers what they want. Good fares, great inflight service, and treat them like a guest in your own home. Guess what they come back again, and again.

The other airlines need to control costs, but a lot of it is done out of panic.

My dad works for a major airline and he told me that 2005 was going to be a rough year for them, so far he has been right. They just cut 150 mechanics, with more to follow.

Like I said in another post this is a soap opera baby and you haven't seen nothing yet.



Just an MSPAVGEEK
User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 7089 times:

Quoting PhilSquares (Reply 8):
How do you get more passengers? By reducing your fares, thus reducing your RASM.

Not quite accurate. Reducing fares reduces your RRSM (aka "yield") and not your RASM. RASM is a related quantity that can be obtained by multiplying the Yield by the Passenger Load Factor. If the PLF increases simultaneously with the reduction in yield (which should be the case in elastic markets) then your RASM may actually see an increase.

As you pointed out, the trick is to find the equilibrium point where your RASM is maximized and then to ensure you can consistently obtain that RASM as well as ensure your CASM is below that. There are too many variables at play to have a "one size fits all" solution for the entire industry.


User currently offline7LBAC111 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2004, 2566 posts, RR: 35
Reply 14, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 7059 times:

Quoting Art (Reply 9):
The US Chapter 11 safety net serves to maintain the overcapacity problem to the detriment of all.

That's a very valid point. However, on the flip side, should say UA or US be allowed to disappear, it's safe to assume fares would rocket. In turn less people could fly. Ultimately every carrier would suffer.

7LBAC111



Debate is what you put on de hook when you want to catch de fish.
User currently offlinePhilSquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 7022 times:

Quoting B747-437B (Reply 13):
Not quite accurate. Reducing fares reduces your RRSM (aka "yield") and not your RASM

I beg to differ. You have to look at the total seats available because that is your expense (CASM) and then look at you total revenue picture (RASM). In the example you gave if the yield decreased then the RASM would also decrease. If the CASM remained constant then your break even LF would increase because of the lower RASM. The difference between the RASM and CASM is the yield. Again, you have to look at all the seats on a revenue/mile basis.

Quoting 7LBAC111 (Reply 14):
However, on the flip side, should say UA or US be allowed to disappear, it's safe to assume fares would rocket. In turn less people could fly. Ultimately every carrier would suffer.

I disagree. Some markets may see a large increase, but as a whole the marketplace would probably have too many seats. The markets that saw a large increase would attract the LCCs. Thus, downward pressure would be kept on fares.


User currently offlineCornish From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 8187 posts, RR: 54
Reply 16, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 6957 times:

As had already been mentioned, high load factors are not simply enough to help airlines make money. What you have to look at is how close they get to the Breakeven Load Factor. If a carrier falls below that then they're going to lose money no matter what, of course.

Now the US majors have some of the highest average load factors in the entire industry. The problem is that for many of them their breakeven load factors are far higher, hence their current problems. In contrast with their much lower cost base, the LCCs have much lower breakeven load factors and so find it far easier to make money.

Doing research for one of our publications we do on airline financial performance I took a look at 2003 against 2002 results for 50 key airlines around the world (will be doing the same with 2004 results in due course). What is interesting is that Southwest's actual load factor in 2003 for example was the lowest of any of the US majors by far at only 66.8% for the year. This compared against a load factor of 76.5% for United for example. However when it comes to the breakeven load factor, Southwest had a figure of 61.4%, meaning it outperformed it comfortably in reality. United on the otherhand had a breakeven load factor of 87.6%, the highest in the industry, which it felt far short of.

So why the difference - well Southwest controls its cost far more carefully than United has done in the past. UA has to make some serious cost cutting measures to survive. In addition, it is overmanned still. Sadly unless it can agree to job cuts it is going to improve in the longterm. Remember UA and the other legacy carriers agreed large wage increases during the boom year of 2000, only to then be follwed by a US economic downturn and then 9/11 meaning that now they couldn't afford them. These large wage increases didn't happen to the same extent at the LCCs.

Throw in huge and complex fleets - look at DL until recently vs Southwest's reliance on the 737 - huge cost implications there.

And of course, many of the legacy carriers see what should be their high yield premium seats occupied by people who haven't paid high yield premium fares, but have got free or cheap upgrades. This means their premium seats are being wasted to a large degree - remving further much needed revenue, either by getting people to pay for first class fares, or to use the space to fill with more economy seats and get money that way.

At the moment, the legacies can do whatever they like with pricing, but its their costs which are the big problem still. Control the costs and they have more room to maneuver when it comes to aggressive pricing.



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
User currently offlineSlider From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6799 posts, RR: 34
Reply 17, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 6926 times:

Several good points, but let's not also forget that comparing the US legacy majors to the rest of the world's carriers is damn near impossible.

Regis hit it on the head with regard to the Brazilian market with the comment about the lack of competition.

And one cannot discount the fact that most of the European carriers were/are/continue to be to some % government owned. Also, given the governmental regs in those countries, pension liability as it exists in the US private sector is borne by the nations overall across the pond.

Not to single any one carrier out (but I will anyhow), AZ by all rights should have died a long time ago based on free market economics.


User currently offlineYu138086 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 6924 times:

Analyze the balance sheet of two carriers in both the northern and southern hemisphere and you will find the the following:

Top two line costs in North America: 1) Labor ($) 2) Fuel ($)
Top two line costs in South America: 1) Fuel ($) 2) Advertising (local cost)

In South America, the cost of labor is not so much an obstacle to growth as in North America, although it is monitored closely. This explains why the North Amercan/European carriers have shed so much labor from their books in recent years. Labor is the first thing that's cut in restructurings in N.A. Fuel costs are variable and determined by "outside" market forces. North American/ European carriers simply have higher cost structures compared with their S. American counterparts coupled with more demanding passengers creating enormous competion for many unprofitable routes so its harder to "squeak" out a profit.


User currently offlineCornish From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 8187 posts, RR: 54
Reply 19, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 6898 times:

Quoting Slider (Reply 17):
And one cannot discount the fact that most of the European carriers were/are/continue to be to some % government owned. Also, given the governmental regs in those countries, pension liability as it exists in the US private sector is borne by the nations overall across the pond.

Not to single any one carrier out (but I will anyhow), AZ by all rights should have died a long time ago based on free market economics.

Actually some of my points are equally applicable to a number of European carriers too.
If I look at my figures, the likes of AZ, and LX are equally poor if not worse. Similar problems to the US majors that I outlined above - in simple terms substitue continued state handouts for Ch.11 protection in the US. either way it keeps carriers going when pure free market forces would see them disappear

Again it is the likes of easyJet and Ryanair which perform best in europe, follwed by companies like BA who have are further down the path of restructuring and adapting to meet the changed market from strong competiton at home than many of the US carriers are as yet.



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
User currently offlineTonytifao From Brazil, joined Mar 2005, 1019 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 6751 times:

Then why UA painting planes? How much does it cost to paint hundres of planes?

User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 6741 times:

Quoting PhilSquares (Reply 15):
I beg to differ. You have to look at the total seats available because that is your expense (CASM) and then look at you total revenue picture (RASM). In the example you gave if the yield decreased then the RASM would also decrease. If the CASM remained constant then your break even LF would increase because of the lower RASM. The difference between the RASM and CASM is the yield. Again, you have to look at all the seats on a revenue/mile basis.

I see where you are coming from, but your formulae are slightly off.

Assume "x" to be the average fare paid by a total of "y" passengers on a flight with with "a" available seats and "z" miles long. Hence the total revenue earned is "xy" and the RASM is "xy/az". If the cost of operating the flight is a constant "C" then the CASM is "C/az".

Now, if you decrease the fares to "d" where d < x, you should (in an elastic environment) see an increase in demand to "i" where i > y. The total revenue in this case would be "id" and the RASM is "id/az". The cost remains a constant "C/az" (in truth the cost would actually increase to "C+o" where "o" is the incremental cost of each new passenger but "o" is insignificant in magnitude to "C" so we can ignore it for practical purposes).

The RRSM in the first case (RRSM1) would be "xy/yz" or "x/z" and the RRSM in the second case (RRSM2) would be "id/iz" or "d/z". Hence, since d < x you see that RRSM2 < RRSM1 in all cases.

However, in the case of RASM you have RASM1 = "xy/az" and RASM2 = "id/az". We know that d < x, but we also know that i > y. Hence it is indeterminate whether xy < id or xy > id. The point at which the function id has the maximum value (noting that i <= a at all times) would be the optimal sale price.

Now, complicate this across multiple price ranges and inventory buckets by making "x" and "d" variables with corresponding y(x) and i(d) functions and you have the science of yield management to determine where the functions have their maxima values.


User currently offlineJdaniel001 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 6723 times:

Planes need to be painted after so many hours of flying anyway. If you don't paint them, they look like their falling apart. So it's pratical to change the scheme. It just takes longer if your strapped for cash. Or you can just paint the nose, which is what alot of carriers do.

User currently offlinePhilSquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 6690 times:

Quoting B747-437B (Reply 21):
I see where you are coming from, but your formulae are slightly off

If I understand your example, you're talking more on the pricing side. I am speaking strictly from the cost/revenue side.


User currently offlineTango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3805 posts, RR: 29
Reply 24, posted (9 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 6489 times:

Quoting 7LBAC111 (Reply 14):
That's a very valid point. However, on the flip side, should say UA or US be allowed to disappear, it's safe to assume fares would rocket. In turn less people could fly. Ultimately every carrier would suffer.

Be assured that fares will not "rocket" if both UA and US disappear. For two reasons that immediately come to mind:

1) The other legacies will continue to offer absurd loss-leader fares unabated in an attempt to grab market share that would be "up for grabs" and to achieve even higher load factors. Fares at which a profit is possible is a thought that would be obscured by the protential seen for increased market share and load factors -- if the thought of profitable fares even occurred to them at all.

2) LCCs would, by expanding, fill much of the capacity vacuum, with reasonable fares at which they can be profitable.


25 Compuz1 : It really comes down to the fact that the Legacy carriers are old, and their business model can't change as easily. Also, newer airlines such as B8, d
26 Post contains images B747-437B : In that case, it can be simplified to "RASM-CASM = Profit".
27 Supa7E7 : Breakeven load factor is a fake number based on false logic. It really has no meaning. For example, even between two cities, a 25% full plane might m
28 Galapagapop : Actually Fares would not "SkyRocket" Both of those airline's hubs have other legacies and LCC's competing with them thats why they're losing money. W
29 Lehpron : Isn't profit a percentage of sales, being what is left after everything else is taken out? So if fuel costs more or less people fly, the profit would
30 LMP737 : That's odd. Southwest is one of the most heavily unionized airlines out there they seem to be doing okay.
31 FLY2LIM : This is an "apples and oranges" scenario. Doing business in a country the size of Brasil is easier than flying all over the United States. True, Bras
32 ZOTAN : Load factors are up but the legacy carriers just cant make money. What makes airlines like WN, B6, and Airtran so succesful is that they have gotten r
33 TomFoolery : The US doesnt have a single flag carrier, and the profits are spread over several airlines who may or may not be proficient in operating in accordance
34 Bill142 : Those planes are being painted during their scheduled repaint. Repainting aircraft has to be done every few years to prevent rusting, corrosion etc.
35 Art : If my understanding of the comments I have read on a.net is right, the US legacy carriers see cutting labour and other costs and increasing load facto
36 717-200 : Delta is the best example of this practice, giving away F seats to their platinum gold encrusted leaf Medallions who probably paid a fraction of what
37 FutureATP : Tonytifao I was thinking the exact same thing today and was going to ask it on the forum! There are some good points above that I never thought before
38 Tango-Bravo : Delta is, no doubt, an example of such folly, but trust me, the other legacies are just as much examples of this absurd practice. One legacy, in fact
39 Bels13 : Ok, all of you are missing the reason airlines are struggling in the US. One name says it all, Southwest. They alone have pussified the airline indust
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