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European LCC Flight Frequencies  
User currently offlineAerokiwi From New Zealand, joined exactly 14 years ago today! , 2683 posts, RR: 4
Posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 5465 times:

I was doodling a route map today of a fantasy LCC in Europe (it was a slow day) and it occurred to me that European LCCs have fairly expansive networks, but pretty limited frequencies on those routes, making things a little tough for business travelers on a daytrip. The busiest I can think of is London-Dublin.

Is this a fair observation?

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineJoost From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 3164 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5416 times:



Quoting Aerokiwi (Thread starter):
and it occurred to me that European LCCs have fairly expansive networks, but pretty limited frequencies on those routes, making things a little tough for business travelers on a daytrip. The busiest I can think of is London-Dublin.

Is this a fair observation?

It all depends on the route, and the type of market served by the route.

However, as typical European LCCs (like U2, FR, W6) only have one size of aircraft (2 in the case of easyJet since recently), their only mean to adapt capacity to the demand, is by increasing or decreasing frequencies.

U2 and FR have quite a number of high-frequency flights:
U2 CDG-MXP: 6 daily
U2 LGW-AMS/EDI/NCE/MXP/MAD/BCN: 4 daily
FR STN-DUB: 7 daily
FR LGW-DUB: 6 daily
etc.

Of course, they also have a number of one-weekly flights, typically on vacation sectors from small airports. But that just reflects demand.


User currently offlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19196 posts, RR: 52
Reply 2, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5389 times:



Quoting Joost (Reply 1):
Of course, they also have a number of one-weekly flights, typically on vacation sectors from small airports. But that just reflects demand.

Not many one-weekly. Normally two- or three-weekly. Such routes are thin; they're based on price-elastic leisure, including VFR, segments, and those travelling for such reasons normally don't require higher frequencies; and FR is normally the only operator on the routes.



"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlineSlz396 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5366 times:



Quoting Aerokiwi (Thread starter):
Is this a fair observation?

In general, yes.

When a LCC serves a route, it will try to fill its plane to the very last seat.
It has to, as it is the only way for them to sustainably offer really low fares, which is their business model as they aim for the price-sensitive customer.
Only if they have a full load of pax to spread their operating costs out on, can they operate profitably on that route, so this means that on routes which see only weak demand, they will only offer a few flights per week and on most of their routes, they will just offer a single flight per day. Only if demand on a route is constantly higher than the offered capacity, will they go to a second flight a day and so on. LCC are always very cautious to offer extra flights on a route and will often prefer to use a plane to open a new route (once daily) or several new routes (2/3 times a week only) as it's easier to fill a plane on a new destination than it is to fill another plane on an already existing destination.

Network carriers tend to think differently:
Obviously they also want to sell as much seats as possible, but they will not quickly serve a route less than once daily and in any way will strive to serve a route at least twice daily, because that allows for same-day returns, which are quite valuable to their pax as they don't have to stay overnight at a hotel then and don't waste one (or more) full day(s) of work on travel time. Those pax (or their companies) are thus willing to pay a premium for being able to fly back home the same day still, as the premium for such a ticket is often still cheaper than spending 150 euro on a hotel + 2 times 30 euro on a taxi ride + diner + 1/20 of a salary wasted.
The airline uses the premium fare paid by those value-sensitive pax to offset the often lower loadfactors on their multiple daily flights.

This key difference in strategy is why a LCC like FR is able to offer 20 or 25 destinations with just 7 or 8 planes, whereas network carriers need at least double the number of planes to serve the same network (albeit with more frequencies). The LCC often claim it's because they operate more efficiently (earlier/later), but in most cases, it is just because they have much lower frequencies throughout their network to support....

It's also why FR's mantra of being about to replace the network carriers isn't going to happen anytimesoon as they just don't offer the needed frequencies to be really attractive. The price difference between them and the network carriers simply isn't large enough to offset the extra value generated from being able to return home the same day still and if they'd want to go to double daily, they'll have to take a loadfactor hit, leading to higher prices which in turn will make them less of a LCC then, thus loosing their only competitive edge. Only on routes where demand is really high, and LCC can also offer several frequencies a day, do they manage to take away customers from the network carriers; on all the other routes, they are merely attracting a new kind of pax, which would otherwise have stayed home....


User currently offlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19196 posts, RR: 52
Reply 4, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5329 times:



Quoting Slz396 (Reply 3):
It's also why FR's mantra of being about to replace the network carriers isn't going to happen anytimesoon as they just don't offer the needed frequencies to be really attractive.

The low-frequency routes that FR operate are primarily for leisure, including VFR, segments that don't require higher frequencies. Network carriers ordinarily carry more businesspeople, who obviously need higher frequency and normally pay for the increased operating costs by paying higher fares. Moreover, FR are normally the only airline operating on such thin routes. FR very often aligns supply (output) with demand very closely, so one reason why they have high seat factors. Obviously price is another.



"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlineBongodog1964 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2006, 3535 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5326 times:

Totally correct observation, plus the added hassle of often very inconvenient flight times.

When deciding on a trip, I try to look at the whole cost on a daily basis. If the LCC only offers a 18.00 departure from STN or LTN resulting in an arrival at 21.00 or so at the other end, to me this is the complete waste of one nights accomodation, as you arrive at your hotel just in time to go to bed. If you can find another airline who will give you an a.m. departure you gain almost a full day probably for way less than the cost of the accomodation.
At the other end you can also find the LCC only offering an 07.00 departure, which results in having to stay overnight near the airport, and then on the return leaving your destination straight after an early breakfast.

The positive point though is, that the LCC's often provide services to regional airports which would never be otherwise served. This can be a good time saver, as it saves travelling from a major airport to the region you wish to visit.


User currently offlineSlz396 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5275 times:



Quoting Pe@rson (Reply 4):
The low-frequency routes that FR operate are primarily for leisure, including VFR, segments that don't require higher frequencies

But isn't this precisely the core of FR's network?

Sure, FR also operates routes like e.g. DUB-LON and you could argue this is a true business route, but I could argue with just as much reason it is in fact nothing but a VFR route to them. Fact is FR isn't really in the business of linking centres of economic/political business with other centres of economic/political business and definitely not multiple times a day! Easyjet on the other hand are, which is why they are far more a risk to the legacies than FR, especially on the routes where they've gone beyond twice daily flights...

But then Easyjet isn't the same kind of LCC as Ryanair is.
In fact: the term LCC covers way too many different types of airlines!
You have those which aim to attract pax who'd otherwise would just have stayed home or would take the car, but are now persuaded to take a flight because it's fairly cheap and will thus accept any inconveniences like bad flight times, low frequencies and remote airports; You have those which aim to offer a fairly similar service as the network carriers to at least some degree on flight times, frequencies and destinations, but have it stripped of all frills and aimed at only one limited area (European short haul), so they can undercut the more global network carriers on price and steal there short haul pax.

FR definitely are the most vocal ones of the first catergory of LCCs, but this category as a whole is by far less of a problem to the network carriers than the much quieter second category. Claiming otherwise is proof of misunderstanding the key differences between LCC.

Anyway, this topic isn't about FR or U2 (and their look-a-likes), it is about the route strategy of European LCC as a whole: FR was merely used by me as an example here to illustrate the fact low frequencies are indirectly yet inherently linked to their business model even to the very big ones.


Quoting Bongodog1964 (Reply 5):
Totally correct observation, plus the added hassle of often very inconvenient flight times.

When deciding on a trip, I try to look at the whole cost on a daily basis. If the LCC only offers a 18.00 departure from STN or LTN resulting in an arrival at 21.00 or so at the other end, to me this is the complete waste of one nights accomodation, as you arrive at your hotel just in time to go to bed. If you can find another airline who will give you an a.m. departure you gain almost a full day probably for way less than the cost of the accomodation.
At the other end you can also find the LCC only offering an 07.00 departure, which results in having to stay overnight near the airport, and then on the return leaving your destination straight after an early breakfast

You will indeed more often find such a flights on LCC. They know the kind of pax they aim for isn't going to bother with the fact the only flight offered to destination XYZ leaves at 21PM and so if they feel there's enough demand to serve the route and have a spare plane available on the apron as from 21PM, they'll launch the route.
Service airlines may also have a spare plane avaibable around at 21PM, but they know their pax aren't going to be interested in a single late evening/night flight, so they don't bother launching the route. Either they operate the route during convenient times, or not.
You can call this different approach 'higher efficiency' and 'better fleet utilisation', or you can just call it a different business concept: a 5-star hotel also 'wastes' a lot of floorspace and also has higher staffing costs than a highway motel; the 2 just aim at different kinds of guests and the chances guests from either one staying at the other are very slim...


User currently offlineXaraB From Norway, joined Aug 2007, 210 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5269 times:

DY does 12 daily OSL-BGO and 10 daily OSL-TRD, except Saturdays and Sundays, where frequencies are about halved.


An open mind is not an empty one
User currently offlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19196 posts, RR: 52
Reply 8, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5252 times:

Quoting Slz396 (Reply 6):

But isn't this precisely the core of FR's network?

Yes. As such, low frequencies are fine for most of its thin routes. And on major or at least more demanded city-pairs, it will offer higher frequencies as it does on many routes. Hardly surprising.

Quoting Slz396 (Reply 6):
Easyjet on the other hand are, which is why they are far more a risk to the legacies than FR, especially on the routes where they've gone beyond twice daily flights...

Indeed.

[Edited 2009-08-20 02:04:53]


"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlineSlz396 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5223 times:



Quoting Pe@rson (Reply 8):
Hardly surprising

Not to you, not to me, but it is apparently still surprising to many people out here, hence this topic.

I think one of the reasons is that FR is always very vocal to announce XX new routes (see a topic of yours from only today) and always has a huge map against the wall in the check in area with all destinations they fly to, this giving the impression to be equally well-covering Europe as the network carriers, yet you never see them advertise the disappointingly low frequencies throughout their network. The reason is plain-obvious: because they are often extremely poor!

I don't have any statistical information at hands right now, but I'd dare to bet not even half of FR's routes are flown more than once daily, if they are indeed flown that much. FR definitely must have the higherst percentage of less than daily short haul routes of all European airlines and as such their sex-appeal to people who travel on an almost weekly basis for business is close to zero indeed, apart from maybe the occasional domestic route where they do offer high enough frequencies to be considered.

As such, Aerokiwi made the correct observations about the 'real' LCC, notwithstanding the repeated claims some of them constantly make on their huge impact on the market!


User currently offlineBasilFawlty From Netherlands, joined Jun 2009, 1316 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5206 times:

And some more examples...

EZY:
LGW-AGP 7x daily
LGW-GVA 5x daily
LPL/NCL-BFS 5x daily
LGW-ALC 4x daily
LGW-PMI 4x daily
LGW/LTN/STN-BFS 4x daily

BE:
LGW-JER 6x daily
LGW-GCI 6x daily
LGW-BHD 4x daily
SOU-JER 4x daily
SOU-GCI 4x daily
LGW/LPL-IOM 4x daily
SOU-BHD 3x daily

VY:
BCN-ORY 9x daily
BCN-IBZ 9x daily
BCN-PMI 7x daily
BCN-MAD 3x daily
BCN-AMS 3x daily



'Every year donkeys and mules kill more people than plane crashes'
User currently offlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19196 posts, RR: 52
Reply 11, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5200 times:

Quoting Slz396 (Reply 9):
you never see them advertise the disappointingly low frequencies throughout their network. The reason is plain-obvious: because they are often extremely poor!

I don't have any statistical information at hands right now, but I'd dare to bet not even half of FR's routes are flown more than once daily, if they are indeed flown that much. FR definitely must have the higherst percentage of less than daily short haul routes of all European airlines and as such their sex-appeal to people who travel on an almost weekly basis for business is close to zero indeed, apart from maybe the occasional domestic route where they do offer high enough frequencies to be considered.

On such thin routes, for the tenth time, the vast majority of people will be travelling for leisure and VFR reasons, and they don't require higher frequencies. The demand from businesspeople would probably be tiny on such routes. That FR is normally the only airline on the route - it clearly has found many brand-new routes, and its strategy has evidently resulted in many opportunities by thinking differently - supports its low-frequency approach. Hence why its supply-demand relationship is very close indeed, and hence one reason why it has very high seat factors, an absolutely fundamental requirement for a low-cost airline.

Let's just increase all frequencies to ten-daily! London to Limoges - 10 times every day! Doesn't matter that we will have 5 people per flight!  

There are, though, many routes on which FR have far higher frequencies - because the routes demand that capacity. Obviously a lot of Dublin-to-UK routes fit into this; for example, it operates up to 4 daily services to EDI. And routes such as stwick (PIK / EGPK), United Kingdom">PIK-STN and BHD-STN get 3x/4x daily. A number of routes, again normally domestic on key routes, e.g. in UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, are ordinarily twice-daily or more. Frequencies between many larger/more important international city-pairs are two-to-four-daily.

[Edited 2009-08-20 03:16:07]


"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlineAerokiwi From New Zealand, joined exactly 14 years ago today! , 2683 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5140 times:

So it's fair to say then that most European LCCs, bar Easyjet, are primarily targeting VFR and leisure traffic?

The reason I'm picking on European LCCs is because elsewhere in the world these types of airlines have evolved into actual competitors to legacy airlines and their business pax base. Think Jet Blue, Southwest, Westjet, Virgin Blue, Tiger, GOL, even Air Asia, to an extent.

Quoting BasilFawlty (Reply 10):
And some more examples...

Those are good examples, though BE is essentially British Airways Regional now, right? And Vueling essentially replaces Iberia services out of BCN so it's sort of an exceptional case. The routes that made me think about all this was Easyjet on domestic France, though I think there are slot issues from Orly in that instance.

Thanks for the replies.


User currently offlineSlz396 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 5048 times:



Quoting Aerokiwi (Reply 12):
So it's fair to say then that most European LCCs, bar Easyjet, are primarily targeting VFR and leisure traffic?

Indeed.
Most European LCC are far from the legacy killers they pretend to be, but are rather a sort of holiday airlines... BTW, it's also why you'll see them so overly present on the southbound routes, as BasilFaulty's list clearly shows.

Quoting Aerokiwi (Reply 12):
The reason I'm picking on European LCCs is because elsewhere in the world these types of airlines have evolved into actual competitors to legacy airlines and their business pax base. Think Jet Blue, Southwest, Westjet, Virgin Blue, Tiger, GOL, even Air Asia, to an extent.

In my opinion, that is because contrary to the USA or Australia, far more pax on short to medium haul flights In Europe are in fact on business-driven trips and do require the flexibility and frequencies the full-service airlines offer them.

Americans/Australians often have several relatives or friends living thousands of kilometers away which they will regularly visit during their holidays throughout the year, but Europeans generally don't have family on the other side of the continent, so they have far less a need to find the absolute cheapest flight to get there.

The exception to this rule is the house-under-the-sun owned by the (grand)parents in Spain, Italy or France, widely used by the (grand)children for their holidays and for which they then need a cheap flight to get to (hence the overload of LCC flights to the Spanish coastal towns as well as Italian and French cities), or the immigrants from Eastern Europe working in the UK, which also want to head home cheaply.

Other than that, there's only a limited demand for low flexibility, low frequent flights from medium-sized European cities to other medium-sized European cities, which is why you're seeing such low frequencies offered by many LCC on any such routes which you'd expect to be more popular: there's demand all right, but not from LCC-style pax...


User currently offlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19196 posts, RR: 52
Reply 14, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 5024 times:



Quoting Slz396 (Reply 13):
Most European LCC are far from the legacy killers they pretend to be

Indeed. Not least because through stimulating demand by the provision of low fares they expand the total market a hugely important requirement. Of course, they also take more price-elastic customers from "legacy" airlines, such as leisure, VFR, and self-employed or businesspeople that work for smaller businesses, but nevertheless the total market increases.



"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlineEI320 From Ireland, joined Dec 2007, 1436 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4987 times:



Quoting Aerokiwi (Reply 12):
So it's fair to say then that most European LCCs, bar Easyjet, are primarily targeting VFR and leisure traffic?

EI would be another exception, they target both the business market and leisure traffic. All of EI's main business routes ex DUB operate at pretty high frequencies, such as LHR (13x d), LGW (5x d), AMS (5x d), CDG (4x d), MAN (3x d), BRU (3x d), DUS (2x d), FRA (2x d), MAD (2x d).


User currently offlineNormie999 From United Kingdom, joined May 2009, 143 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4914 times:

Right from the outset I seem to remember this was Easyjet's strategy - only serving routes that could stand at least a daily service, in fact usually more. Luton-Inverness was about the only route back in the day serviced only 7 times a week if I recall rightly. Today the situation is somewhat blurred but I imagine Ryanair frequencies are feeble when compared to Easyjet's.

User currently offlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19196 posts, RR: 52
Reply 17, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4900 times:

Quoting Normie999 (Reply 16):
Today the situation is somewhat blurred but I imagine Ryanair frequencies are feeble when compared to Easyjet's.


This comparison isn't comparing like-with-like, hence reaching that conclusion.

Those reading this thread might find this link useful: http://www.anna.aero/2008/04/11/ryan...rage-frequency-of-low-cost-routes/

[Edited 2009-08-20 09:26:13]


"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlineAirNz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4828 times:



Quoting Slz396 (Reply 6):
But then Easyjet isn't the same kind of LCC as Ryanair is.
In fact: the term LCC covers way too many different types of airlines!

I would agree with you entirely and, far too often, people here are trying to generalise it and not stopping to actually understand what LCC is.
Equally, as you correctly say in your specific example, FR view DUB-LON as more of a leisure route and, in truth, there is no actual reason why they should be overly concerned in trying to join business centre's. They are primarily in business to provide transportation., not 'decide' what people should be travelling for. Thus, if someone prefers an airline for 'business' purposes only, there are plenty of alternatives.

Quoting Bongodog1964 (Reply 5):
Totally correct observation, plus the added hassle of often very inconvenient flight times.

Valid enough point but, it must also be remembered that whether flight times are either 'convenient' or 'inconvenient' is purely subjective. Your example of an AM departure is perfectly valid, and convenient, but then equally so is a PM one for many people who may not need/cannot use an AM one for a wide variety of reasons.


User currently offlineJoost From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 3164 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4806 times:



Quoting Aerokiwi (Reply 12):
So it's fair to say then that most European LCCs, bar Easyjet, are primarily targeting VFR and leisure traffic?

No. At least, it depends on the definition of a LCC.

Ryanair (obvious LCC): leisure and VFR traffic together make up for some 70% of traffic (from various reports), but 30% business traffic is still a reasonable amount.

easyJet (obvious LCC): have a higher share of business traffic, but this depends greatly on the route and even on the flight times. The offer exactly the same product for business-oriented and leisure-oriented routes, and target all markets. LGW-AMS attracts a different market than LGW-SSH. Have a look at their presentations in the Investor Relations section of their website to look how they explicitly chase after on this strategy of diversification among business, leisure and VFR.

Wizzair (obvious LCC): similar to FR.

FlyBe: is it a LCC? They have one-way pricing, free seating, very low promotional fares, low-cost airports/piers and many additional charges on one hand; but provide connections, fly small aircraft at high frequencies (some routes) and have a diversified fleet on the other hand.

Norwegian: is it a LCC? Or is it just a modern and smart carrier chasing after carriers like SAS? They are a major competitor for SK on key domestic routes in Norway (OSL-TRD (11 daily), OSL-BGO (11 daily), OSL-SVG (8 daily), but also fly low-frequency routes from RYG that compete with FR, and even have a base at WAW. They are a bit like easyJet (offering a smart product that's just somewhat cheaper than competitors), but they do offer connections at OSL.

Clickair: LCC or just a non-hubbing branch of Iberia?

Air Berlin: LCC or just like Norwegian, a smart competitior?


User currently offlineIH8BY From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 1141 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4751 times:



Quoting Joost (Reply 19):
FlyBe: is it a LCC? They have one-way pricing, free seating, very low promotional fares, low-cost airports/piers and many additional charges on one hand; but provide connections, fly small aircraft at high frequencies (some routes) and have a diversified fleet on the other hand.

They also, apparently, offer flexible fares under their 'Economy Plus' scheme, with pre-selection of seats, 30kg baggage allowance, lounge use, and a basic loyalty programme. You can also buy 'Business Express' tickets in books for certain routes, so for instance you can buy a book of 10 flexible return tickets between LGW and NCL for about £3500.



Have you ever felt like you could float into the sky / like the laws of physics simply don't apply?
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