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Why No More Lowcost Turboprops?  
User currently offlineAirevents From Germany, joined Jan 2002, 894 posts, RR: 2
Posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5782 times:

Good evening,

when I see a Flybe operating quite successfully with their DH8-400s or an Air Southwest which does quite well with Dash8-300s, I wonder why there are not more lowcost airlines using turboprops to explore smaller markets? Germanwings Express or something similar...

I could very much imagine this to be successful.

Any thoughts?

Sebastian


www.airevents.com
24 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineOrion737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 5746 times:

So could I. Many of the secondary airports and very short routes flown by LCCs would be much better suited to an aircraft like the Q400, it would allow an LCC to serve shorter routes more effectivley and increase frequencies on many routes.

I think many FR routes are more suited to an aircraft like the Q400. LBA and DSA-DUB for example.


User currently offlineHumberside From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2005, 4927 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 5730 times:

Im not so sure about LBA-DUB being more suited to Q400's. FR seem to be able to keep up three daily B737's on the route


Visit the Air Humberside Website and Forum
User currently offlineOrion737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 5706 times:

Up to recently though, the LBA-DUB route has always been a 732 route. Maybe now FR have an extra 59 seats per flight they might find it a bit harder to fill. If they had a smaller aircraft they could increase frequencies and surely it would be better for a Q400 to operate routes like BLK-DUB?

User currently offlinePtrjong From Netherlands, joined Mar 2005, 4003 posts, RR: 18
Reply 4, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 5676 times:

LCCs need sizeable pax numbers to yield enough revenue, given the low yield per passenger. If they can't fill a 737, routes will not last. Downgrading to smaller aircraft is not an option, because the smaller the aircraft, the higher the cost per seat.

And although turboprops may burn less fuel than jets, they are also slower. Maybe pax don't mind, but the airline can fly fewer sectors a day.



The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
User currently offlineLuke From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 181 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 5666 times:

I guess that most low-cost airlines prefer to serve the larger markets (with 737/A320 sized aircraft) because they are potentially more lucrative. The disadvantage with this of course, is that it puts them into direct competition with the stronger established LCCs (Ryanair, easyJet, Air Berlin etc.) as well as all the many smaller low-cost startups as they fight for market share in a highly competitive environment. As you say, what flybe has done is identified and exploited a niche in the low-cost market by serving smaller airports utilizing smaller aircraft with a more domestic focused route structure. This has of course been successful for the airline because there is very little competition from the strongly established low-cost airlines (EZ & FR do not fly from Norwich, Exeter and Southampton for example) in most of their markets.

The reason that there is no competition from other LCCs is because this smaller market does not have the potential to return the yields that the larger markets do - although the chance of doing well in the larger LCC market is getting smaller as it becomes saturated with more and more startups.

So I would say that the majority of LCCs are preferring to be betting on the very small possibility of excellent success in a saturated market, while flybe is taking the safer option of hiding away in their low-competition niche and as a result having a higher chance of success - although potentially they are never going to make as much profit as those in the larger LCC sector.

I think existing airlines like FR would rather continue to expand their operations in the larger aircraft (737) market until they have absolutely filled it (which I don't think will happen too soon). To introduce another aircraft type like the Q400 would add costs and complexity to FR's operation and they would loose the operational flexibility enjoyed with a single fleet for only a small reward.


User currently offlineA342 From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 4700 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 5614 times:

Air Deccan has ordered 30 ATR-72 and leases additional aircraft.
Also I´m quite sure Kingfisher has orderd ATRs, too.



Exceptions confirm the rule.
User currently offlineCloudy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 5362 times:

This is a very good point. Horizon competes very effectively with Southwest using the Q400 in Seattle. Flybe uses it very effectively in Europe. The Q400 could help a lo-cost airline stimulate many smaller markets, with a much lower trip cost than an equivalent RJ. With the rise in fuel costs, the Q400 has become much more popular. I would not be surprised if a major American Lo-Co orders the Q400 or a more advanced, new turboprop - whether they fly it directly or through a codeshare partner or subsidiary.

I view Southwest as a possible candidate because....

.....Because of LCC competition, there are fewer and fewer large markets left to stimulate in the US.
....With ATA, they have a potential operator
....They have many, large stations that could be connected to smaller cities with this plane. It would greatly increase the value of "hubs" like MDW and BWI.
.....It will allow them to enter or remain in many markets otherwise not economical for them.
.....The Q400 has a potential for a CASM of not much higher than a 737-700 on shorter trips.
......It opens up many more routes for high frequency, point to point travel.
.....They could get an awesome deal for the size of order and prestige they would offer Bombardier.

One example route - there is a lot of untapped O&D potential between Springfield, ILL and Chicago. Current fairs are exhorbitant, and when ATA tried low cost service, they failed partly because they used planes with a high CASM(Another reason is that the MDW hub as a whole was doing badly.....). Use a larger plane and lower fares to fill it and the O&D alone could be enough - even without potential connections. A 70 seat turboprop would be great for this route, with low fares.

It used to be that people avoided turboprops. But now, people don't avoid turboprops as much as they avoid regional aircraft of any sort. Experienced travelers now know that jet engines do not equal mainline comfort, and many if not most would prefer the 4 abrest Q400 to the 3-abrest ERJ-135. It is these experienced, frequent fliers that matter most. Those who fly less frequently don't care as much about what they are flying.

It would shock the industry if Bombardier got such an order from Southwest, Jetblue or even from Frontier or Spirit. But I won't be surprised if it happens, and remember, you heard it here first.

Oh, and did I mention that the Q400 can serve many Carribean airports inaccessible to larger planes? And that many of these routes command exorbitant fairs now.........


User currently offlineTornado82 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 5136 times:

Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 4):


And although turboprops may burn less fuel than jets, they are also slower. Maybe pax don't mind, but the airline can fly fewer sectors a day.

If the route is short enough, the differences in block times are nearly negligible.

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 7):


It used to be that people avoided turboprops. But now, people don't avoid turboprops as much as they avoid regional aircraft of any sort. Experienced travelers now know that jet engines do not equal mainline comfort, and many if not most would prefer the 4 abrest Q400 to the 3-abrest ERJ-135. It is these experienced, frequent fliers that matter most. Those who fly less frequently don't care as much about what they are flying.

Why would most want to sit in the 4-abreast Q400 as opposed to the ERJ's with the A-seats? "These experienced, frequent fliers that matter the most" are typically business travelers, and others flying solo, many of whom appreciate that single A seat where they don't have an obese, snoring, sleeping, falling over on top of you, odorful, etc. neighbor. I'm one of them. Plus you can spread out more because nobody is hogging your space.


User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 5085 times:

I agree that I'd prefer to have the A seat.

That said, 4-abreast seating isn't a major disadvantage. What's been a problem has been the general dislike of props. We can say anything we want, but when UA went all-jet at ORD, they slaughtered AA, which was forced to go all jet as well.

Steve


User currently offlineFlytweed From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 84 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 5048 times:

Technically, the "new" US is supposed to be a LCC, so technically they're still an LCC operating props - ie. DHC 8-100's, 200's, and 300's - in the United States.

User currently offlineTornado82 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 5030 times:

Quoting Flytweed (Reply 10):


Technically, the "new" US is supposed to be a LCC, so technically they're still an LCC operating props - ie. DHC 8-100's, 200's, and 300's - in the United States.

And Colgan's Saab 340's, and Air Midwest/Colgan's B1900's, too.


User currently offlineFlyTweed From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 84 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4998 times:

Good call... US also operates the B1900's and 340's.

User currently offlineJobsagoodun From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 98 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 4833 times:

Quoting Flytweed (Reply 10):
Technically, the "new" US is supposed to be a LCC, so technically they're still an LCC operating props - ie. DHC 8-100's, 200's, and 300's - in the United States.

The main difference with the US and UK is that the Q400 competes in the UK against the 737 with similar operating costs per seat. Flybe and Easyjet both fly from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Belfast (albeit International vs City airports) and actively compete efficiently with one another. The smaller Dash 8's, the B1900 and Saab 340's could not hope to do this. Really I think it has to be the Q400 or nothing, I cannot see the ATR's competing in a similar environment as well as the big Dash.


User currently offlineVfw614 From Germany, joined Dec 2001, 4060 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 4814 times:

Is the Q400 much more economical than the ATR72-500 ? At 30in pitch, you can squeeze in 74 pax into an ATR72 compared to 78 into an Q400.

User currently offlineDAYflyer From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 3807 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 4811 times:

Quite frankly, there are many American pax who hesitate to fly on props. While they are more economical to operate, if the pax don't want them, what is the point of the airline buying them?

It may be different in Europe or Asia, but here people simply do not like to fly them. I think that airlines need to do a better PR job about safety and comfort of these fine airplanes and bring them back into service.



One Nation Under God
User currently offlineJobsaGoodun From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 98 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4713 times:

Quoting DAYflyer (Reply 15):
there are many American pax who hesitate to fly on props

I would certainly agree with your centiments about the pax perspective of props however in the UK these aircraft are being used to open new routes that previously would not have existed. It is simple that you either fly on a Q400 from say Exeter to Glasgow or your travel 1hr by car to travel from Bristol on a jet. For most people in the UK its about convenience and price, not about jet vs prop.

Quoting Vfw614 (Reply 14):
Is the Q400 much more economical than the ATR72-500 ?

Not necessarily much more economical but it is far quicker. The ATR 72-500 cruises at approx 275kts compared with 350kts for the Q400. Take a look at the following article which may be of interest to readers of this thread. It will also show how significant a move to props may be to the bottom line for some carriers struggling with spiralling fuel prices.

www.ainonline.com/Publications/era/era_04/era_newturbop18.html


User currently offlineSBN580 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 401 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4697 times:

Quoting DAYflyer (Reply 15):
Quite frankly, there are many American pax who hesitate to fly on props.

Sad paranoia and lack of knowledge, instilled by years "predujets."



North Central: Good People Made Their Airline Great! FLY MD-90 POWER! Keep 'em Flying DELTA Family!
User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3761 posts, RR: 29
Reply 18, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4667 times:

Quoting DAYflyer (Reply 15):
Quite frankly, there are many American pax who hesitate to fly on props. While they are more economical to operate, if the pax don't want them, what is the point of the airline buying them?

A good point. In Germany, LCCs like Ryanair have different customers than LH. A businessman doesn�t care what he is flying, on Ryanair it is more the typical charter airline passenger flying, who is only used to fly medium sized jets. Putting them into a prop would certainly make them feel strange.

We know that props aren't different from other planes in terms of safety, but the average passenger doesn't think so, and this is a different point.

However, there are examples in Germany that also regional airlines are cutting prices. For Example, Dauair offered some good deals from DTM-THF, prices weren't much higher than CGN-TXL on HLX or CGN-SXF on 4U.

Michael


User currently offlineTornado82 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4644 times:

Quoting JobsaGoodun (Reply 16):
For most people in the UK its about convenience and price, not about jet vs prop.

Unfortunately in the US, land of the < 50 seat RJ's, "jets are safer/better" propaganda has been instilled years back, and is now propagated by websites like Travelocity, which specifically flag turboprop flights. If you don't know the difference between a B1900 and a 737, you shouldn't be given "Props for dummies" flags on Travelocity either.


User currently offlineJobsaGoodun From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 98 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4614 times:

Quoting Tornado82 (Reply 19):
Unfortunately in the US, land of the < 50 seat RJ's, "jets are safer/better" propaganda has been instilled years back, and is now propagated by websites like Travelocity, which specifically flag turboprop flights

This is such a shame and would give some creedance to the suggestion that by giving the US consumer what they want rather than what may be best for the business. The US majors are now struggling with reducing passengers numbers, the reducing fares required to tempt them back and an increasing fuel bill for these little gas guzzlers.

As you've said, a lot is down to propaganda. Props have been used extensively in the UK for some time and never really decreased significantly in use. Yes BA reduced their use of props in favour of small jets, but at the same time they significantly reduced their domestic network and do not dominate domestic UK operations in the same way as some of the US carriers do.

Flybe and Horizon have been very active in trying to promote the Q400 with Flybe even devoting a page of their inflight magazine to extolling its virtues in a bid to educate the travelling passenger. A credible effort but we'll never know if it had any impact. All that can be said is that inclusive of options Flybe's Q400 fleet could stand at approx 65 Q400's by the end of 2009. I guess the UK public had better get used to seeing them.

[Edited 2006-01-05 17:49:54]

User currently offlinePgtravel From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 446 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4581 times:

Quoting Tornado82 (Reply 19):
Unfortunately in the US, land of the < 50 seat RJ's, "jets are safer/better" propaganda has been instilled years back, and is now propagated by websites like Travelocity, which specifically flag turboprop flights. If you don't know the difference between a B1900 and a 737, you shouldn't be given "Props for dummies" flags on Travelocity either.

While there isn't anything inherently more dangerous about props (though most of my non-aviation friends annoyingly think that props are flying deathtraps), it certainly was a more uncomfortable experience in the past due to the noise and vibration as compared to jets along with the lower altitude which kept you in the weather more often. This image seems to have stuck much more in the US than in Europe, where prop flying is so much more widely accepted.

Of course, it's a different story today. Props like the Q400 are much quieter and can fly upwards of 25,000 ft. They are so much less expensive to operate that you would think more airlines beyond Horizon would start trying to bring them back as CRJ replacements since the latter are so expensive.

It's true that many booking sites continue to flag props, but not all do it. I work for PriceGrabber.com and we don't do anything to make props stand out from jets in our search results. Hopefully we'll see a resurgence of props in the US when airlines start to look for ways to reduce their short haul operating costs.


User currently offlineOkie From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 3188 posts, RR: 3
Reply 22, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4566 times:

I travel quite a bit and I personally enjoy and expect a turbo-prop on some legs of my flights to smaller cities. After a while MD80/737/A-320 experiences start getting "unremarkable".

Quoting DAYflyer (Reply 15):
Quite frankly, there are many American pax who hesitate to fly on props.

I do not know about hesitate but you can rest assured that the brothers "Snivel & Whine" running around the terminal at Frost Bite Falls touting their 2000 mile $89 r/t ticket to Sunny Beach are very vocal when a Junkstream pulls up to the gate to pick up 5 passengers at the two flight per day airport and it is not a 747 with first class service.

Okie


User currently offlineSBN580 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 401 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 4509 times:

Quoting Okie (Reply 22):
I do not know about hesitate but you can rest assured that the brothers "Snivel & Whine" running around the terminal at Frost Bite Falls touting their 2000 mile $89 r/t ticket to Sunny Beach are very vocal when a Junkstream pulls up to the gate to pick up 5 passengers at the two flight per day airport and it is not a 747 with first class service.

While I am a big prop fan, even I am not fond of a Jetstream 31. There are much better propjets than that out there these days. The Q400 is a prime example.



North Central: Good People Made Their Airline Great! FLY MD-90 POWER! Keep 'em Flying DELTA Family!
User currently offlineOkie From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 3188 posts, RR: 3
Reply 24, posted (8 years 11 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 4428 times:

Quoting SBN580 (Reply 23):
While I am a big prop fan, even I am not fond of a Jetstream 31. There are much better propjets than that out there these days. The Q400 is a prime example.

 checkmark 

The point is that there are a many ATR, Q400, 340/2000 etc that are fine aircraft for their routes and most business travelers expect turbos on light traveled/short hop routes that can not economically support larger aircraft as they are in some type of business themselves and understand the economics.

The snag is "Snivel & Whine" have a picture of a 747 on the cover of their pamphlet to Sunny Beach, they watched movies of cross country or international flight (hard to make much of a disaster movie about a 45 minute connection flight) and they are expecting 747 and first class service for their $89 r/t ticket to connect with a hub and to continue to Sunny Beach on a MD-80 instead of a A-380 is just bad Karma.  down 

Okie


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