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Stand-Alone Commuter Carriers  
User currently offlineWedgetail737 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5910 posts, RR: 6
Posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 3579 times:
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With a few exceptions throughout the US, Hawaii, Alaska and the US Territories, could commuter airlines stand alone without the benefit of the major carriers...kind of like the 1970's and 1980's...examples Britt Airways, Cascade Airways, PBA, Imperial Airlines, etc....in today's airline industry environment?

25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineHAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2561 posts, RR: 53
Reply 1, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3534 times:

Quick answer - no. Long answer - smaller airlines have to compete with several modes of transportation, and the high fixed costs associated with aviation mean that unless you are huge, or you have a specific market segment all to your own and can charge what it actually costs you to fly your aircraft, you don't stand much of a chance of making a profit.

In today's world short-haul airlines just can't compete by themselves with freeways, trains, busses, or internet communications. An operating airline - no matter the size of its aircraft, has to pay for crew costs, landing fees, gate rental, ground crew, equipment insurance, ticket counter rental, advertising, corporate personnel, health insurance, loan costs and interest, fuel, maintenance, spares, training, and more. It's a huge expense to get that first seat off the ground. With smaller planes, there's less possible revenue to cover those costs. The travelling public today has come to expect low fares no matter where they go unless there is simply no competition. A small commuter airline, faced with all these costs, yet unable to charge much for the seats, wouldn't be able to make a go if it in today's market. The only way the smaller airlines can (usually) eke out a profit these days is with a code share where the larger airline gets the volume of business it needs by the feed from the commuter, and pays the commuter a 'fee for departure', whether or not there are people on that particular flight. Since the revenue is shared between the commuter and the major airline, the commuter can stay alive to fly again another day. By itself, it wouldn't last.

HAL



One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.
User currently offlineEXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3472 times:



Quoting Wedgetail737 (Thread starter):
With a few exceptions throughout the US, Hawaii, Alaska and the US Territories, could commuter airlines stand alone without the benefit of the major carriers...kind of like the 1970's and 1980's...examples Britt Airways, Cascade Airways, PBA, Imperial Airlines, etc....in today's airline industry environment?

I doubt it cuz they wouldnt make enough off the prorate for connections. If there was lots of local traffic maybe. It worked up until the late 1980s, but falling airfares adjusted for inflation would have made most prorates unprofitable


User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4328 posts, RR: 35
Reply 3, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3397 times:

The business travellers would be the ones who can pay for the commuter flights, are addicted to their FFP's, a perk usually paid by their boss.
A mainline carrier always has the advantage, also because their website can be more easily found then that of a small carier, especially from passengers who reside elsewhere. If someone wants to go from say New York to Aspen, they want one stop shopping on say ual.com and not browse around to combine flights to Denver and then look for standalone commuters, let's say Lynxair.com and greatlakes.com and worry to lose their ticket if their connecting flight is late.



nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
User currently offlineOzarkD9S From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5111 posts, RR: 21
Reply 4, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3295 times:

There are a few niche markets where it might work, but an airline the size of say Britt today would die without a codeshare. So many of the commuter/regional airlines in the 80's went kaput without that major code. Even having one was no guarantee of success.

Gull, Air New Orleans, Royale, Metro etc...all had major codes at one point and they didn't make it for various reasons.

And of course there is California...the graveyard of independent commuter carriers.



Next Up: STL-LGA-RIC-ATL-STL
User currently offlineWedgetail737 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5910 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3290 times:
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Good answers...thank you!

User currently offlineNASBWI From Bahamas, joined Feb 2005, 1312 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3254 times:



Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 4):
Gull, Air New Orleans, Royale, Metro etc...

Wow! Someone who remembers Gull Air! I flew on them a few times out of NAS to South Florida back in the late '80s. As I recall they had C402s and a couple CASA 212s. With their color scheme, did they codeshare with Air Florida? They almost seemed to have a Cape Air-type operation, like PBA.



Fierce, Fabulous, and Flawless ;)
User currently offlineHaYnFlyer From United States of America, joined Nov 2008, 149 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3243 times:

I agree with those who say it is not possible with one exception: if a commuter airline was receiving a susidy under the auspices of the federal EAS. I'm not sure if the EAS is sufficient to turn a proifit, but I think that's how Mokulele got its start in Hawaii. Didn't they also take away some EAS work from Mesa in teh continental US? Or was that Island Air?

Here's more info on the Essentail Air Service EAS subsidy

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=13209



"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
User currently offlineOzarkD9S From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5111 posts, RR: 21
Reply 8, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3239 times:



Quoting NASBWI (Reply 6):


With their color scheme, did they codeshare with Air Florida?

They codeshared with Ozark, briefly and later CO but CO kind of booted them when they got regional feed from PBA with the People Express purchase.



Next Up: STL-LGA-RIC-ATL-STL
User currently offlineM11Stephen From United States of America, joined Aug 2008, 1247 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 3222 times:

Look at X-Jet and Independence Air, fail. A lot of the reason commuter routes are profitiable or non-profitable and still exist is to provide feed for mainline at a hub. No one would fly MKE-ORD without making a connection at ORD. I doubt the MKE-ORD leg is profitable. However, in the grand scheme of things, when you have someone fly MKE-ORD-LHR it becomes profitable. So no, regional airlines couldn't exist on their own without being XXX express.


My opinions, statements, etc. are my own and do not have any association with those of any employer.
User currently offlineEXTspotter From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 992 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 3197 times:

How about non-US ones. If you are looking far enough back in time, Jersey European when they had just Skyvans or whatever. It was very successful and was the seed which has grown into Flybe today. There are loads more offering flights of 30 mins to 90 mins:

SZ (Air Southwest's new code, not sure if it has been updated yet), 5 x Dash 8 300
RE Loads of ATRs
Eastern Airways lots of S340s

There must be more, but I can't think atm.



AF BE BY FR MV PD SZ U2 VZ DHC6, 8-3/4Q, 732/8, 763ER, A319, A380
User currently offlineEXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 3134 times:



Quoting EXTspotter (Reply 10):
How about non-US ones

I would bet almost all local traffic at high fares.....Look also at REX in Australia


User currently offlineBooDog From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 257 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 3117 times:

I disagree. Horizon dominates the NW US so strongly, especially the SEA/PDX and SEA/GEG routes, that they could make it on their own if they were separate from AS.


B1B - best looking aircraft ever.
User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6037 posts, RR: 14
Reply 13, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 3096 times:



Quoting M11Stephen (Reply 9):
So no, regional airlines couldn't exist on their own without being XXX express

Before they got enamoured with the mainlines, many regionals had perfectly successful route systems. They had to be; otherwise, there would have been no way that they could have survived as long as they did. Believe or not, there are parts of these former regional networks that survive and thrive today, using modern equipment, and the only place where the mainline get involved, is providing the system to book the ticket.



Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
User currently offlineDurangoMac From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 725 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3070 times:



Quoting BooDog (Reply 12):
I disagree. Horizon dominates the NW US so strongly, especially the SEA/PDX and SEA/GEG routes, that they could make it on their own if they were separate from AS.

I would disagree, if that was true then SkyWest could do the same thing on the same routes since those routes are already pro-rate and are profitable. What really makes these routes attractive and profitable is the conneciton with a mainline partner.


User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined exactly 7 years ago today! , 7004 posts, RR: 11
Reply 15, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3043 times:



Quoting DurangoMac (Reply 14):

I would disagree, if that was true then SkyWest could do the same thing on the same routes since those routes are already pro-rate and are profitable. What really makes these routes attractive and profitable is the conneciton with a mainline partner.

 checkmark   checkmark  Bingo!

If it's not Horizon, it will be another carrier under the banner of AS going head to head w/Horizon and I believe the one with the AS code would win...



What gets measured gets done.
User currently offlineLexy From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 2515 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 2912 times:

Locair in Somerset, Kentucky is doing well on its flights to BNA from SME. According to all involved, the flights have actually "taken off" and are doing well both in L/F and in cash. So with that said, my answer is it depends on what cities are paired up and who is flying them. Also, how they market them is a biggie!


Nashville, Tennessee KBNA
User currently offlineNzrich From New Zealand, joined Dec 2005, 1522 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 2887 times:

Air Chathams and Southern Air in New Zealand is a good example of one .. Both service small
Island that none of the main airlines can fly profitably too ..



"Pride of the pacific"
User currently offlineJolau1701 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 234 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 2845 times:

I can't believe noone's mentioned Expressjet's attempt to go solo.

User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined exactly 7 years ago today! , 7004 posts, RR: 11
Reply 19, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 2809 times:



Quoting Jolau1701 (Reply 18):



Quoting M11Stephen (Reply 9):
Look at X-Jet and Independence Air

Disaster by the way...



What gets measured gets done.
User currently offlineVhqpa From Australia, joined Jul 2005, 1471 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2645 times:

In Australia we have Rex (Regional Express) which was formed by merging Kendell and Hazelton (both former Ansett owned regionals. Rex are now independent and fly 39 Saab 340's to 28 destinations in South Eastern Australia.




Vhq.



"There you go ladies and gentleman we're through Mach 1 the speed of sound no bumps no bangs... CONCORDE"
User currently offlineDurangoMac From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 725 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 2267 times:

I might add the TRIP in Brasil is apparently doing well and is hitting it's financial targets because SkyWest, Inc. not to long ago made their second infusion of capital which was only going to happen if they were doing well according to press releases.

User currently offlineCloudboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 828 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 1916 times:

I don't agree that it is impossible from a purely operational standpoint. If you actually looked at a commuter as a small airline and growing it makes sense. JetBlue, Spirit, etc. really all started out small with few routes. They just grew and got people to look at them instead of the parent or the major airlines. I do think you need to have a route structure that is large eough to merit flying - if you fly short hops of only a couple hundred miles then you are really only pulling in a small portion of the market.

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 15):

If it's not Horizon, it will be another carrier under the banner of AS going head to head w/Horizon and I believe the one with the AS code would win...

However, this is the real issue here. It's not that the commuters wouldn't be able to make a go if it, but that the major airlines would push them out. They have the financial backing and the strength to overwhelm thee competition. A few so-so performing routes are much less of an impact on a major airline that on an airline that only consists of a dozen routes.



"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
User currently offlineJA From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 564 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 1856 times:



Quoting HAL (Reply 1):
Quick answer - no. Long answer - smaller airlines have to compete with several modes of transportation, and the high fixed costs associated with aviation mean that unless you are huge, or you have a specific market segment all to your own and can charge what it actually costs you to fly your aircraft, you don't stand much of a chance of making a profit.

I disagree.

I have a plan on the table for what will be essentially a Part 380 regional airline. Several of the routes would be set up as stand alone feeders to a hub. It will absolutely work for several reasons:

1) It is well known that on many feeder routes, local traffic gets priced out. A stand alone "commuter" could care less who you connect to. Thus, passengers who do not connect do not get punished for not doing so.

2) A stand alone commuter could bring passengers from a feeder city to a major hub with more than one airline and let the airlines slug it out for those passengers. Combining passengers for more than one airline on the same aircraft is exactly what UA and US has started doing. A commuter can do that on its own.

3) This commuter airline could also buy miles and issue them to passengers. Thus, frequent filer miles could be earned on the airline you actually want to fly on by using the commuter. There are also spokes with significant populations of frequent filers for an airline that could be connected by a stand alone offering them miles. At 2-3 cents per mile to purchase FF miles, a major airline would collect millions of dollars on routes it wouldn't bother to fly.

A stand alone commuter could survive because it would compete with everyone and feed everyone at the same time. This would leave it less exposed to a single network. Places like ATL, DEN, and ORD would be excellent locations for a stand alone commuter to serve.


User currently offlineTharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1865 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 1833 times:

I started a thread with this exact same question last week. didn't really reach a conclusive answer.

Re EAS: Great Lakes Airlines makes a living off of EAS, and many of its flights are not operated as XXX Express, but as Great Lakes. Not even a codeshare in many cases.

Cape Air (Cape operations, not FL or Micronesia) seems to be a stable stand-alone commuter, with only a relatively new codeshare with B6. I think the case study there tells us that geography plays a big role - planes and boats are more attractive than cars in this area. The area seems to really only support one airline, so it probably makes sense to eventually codeshare with everybody and get all the feeds, instead of operating as XYZ Express.

The bush operators in Alaska are also maybe examples of how geography matters.


User currently offlineACKattack From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 64 posts, RR: 0
Reply 25, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 1806 times:



Quoting Tharanga (Reply 24):
Cape Air (Cape operations, not FL or Micronesia) seems to be a stable stand-alone commuter, with only a relatively new codeshare with B6. I think the case study there tells us that geography plays a big role - planes and boats are more attractive than cars in this area. The area seems to really only support one airline, so it probably makes sense to eventually codeshare with everybody and get all the feeds, instead of operating as XYZ Express.

I agree that the cape is unique in its geography and the interconnected-ness of the cape and the islands. Many workers, especially before last summer, would commute daily to construction sites on the Islands, especially Nantucket, due the outrageous cost of living on the Island. Also, many other professional on the Cape also offer services on the islands and use the airlines to commute to meetings and consultations on the island. Furthermore, their is the high end visitor traffic. So, thus their is a lot of true commuting demand for the air routes, especially HYA-ACK. However, Cape Air isn't alone on the route, with strong competition from Island Air and their C402s and new Caravan and the high speed ferries of The Steamship Authority and Hy-Line.


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