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MD-80's A Poor Choice For No-frills Airlines?  
User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 6
Posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 2887 times:

I've seen mentioned in many places that MD-80's aren't good choices for low-cost, no-frills airlines. Most recently was a mention of JetsGo using MD-83's rather than 737's. And other places have mentioned how the MD-80 isn't as suitable for quick turns as the 737.

Okay, maybe I'm just not so bright, but why exactly is this, and is there anywhere that actually defines some values? I'd be the first to assume that the 737NG's probably have better operating costs because their's newer with better engines (whereas the MD-80's are using re-fanned JT8's), but it's hard to believe that the operating costs of an MD-80 aren't better than a 737-200, which companies like Ryanair (and Southwest, and both still operate!) have used to launch to success.

Steve

25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLBA From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 494 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 2777 times:

It's probably a question of availability of the aircraft. Look how many 737s are in operation and the number which have been replaced by European operators leaving hundreds available for lease/purchase. SAS are about the largest user of the MD series in Europe with very few other operators - Finnair being one. Look how many operators have used the 737 in the past - just about every other national airline. This high use rate of 737s also means there are more type certified crew out there so low frills airlines don't have to wait or pay for the crew to be type certified.

User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29799 posts, RR: 58
Reply 2, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2738 times:

Reno Air made a respectable showing with their MD-80's before AA bought them out.


OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
User currently offlineAKelley728 From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 2192 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2647 times:

Both Vanguard and Spirit airlines use MD-80s.

User currently offlineSjc>sfo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2609 times:

For the Airline formerly known as Legend, and Midwest Express, the 3-2 seating arrangement makes it alot easier to have a luxury arrangement as you only loose 1 seat per row when switching to First Class. This seems pretty darn useful to me. I agree, the economics of a 737 seem far better, but the MD-80 just looks cool.

User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2594 times:

Another problem with using MD-80 family aircraft is with loads. An MD-80 is fine if the routes you operate them on can sustain load factors that make operations with MD-80s economical or even profitable. I mean you wouldn't put one on a route that can barely fill a DC-9 flight. If you use the MD-80 along with the DC-9, 737, or 717 in which you can shift them around with the various seasonal load factors to operate each type to maximize profitability. That is why airlines like Midwest Express, Spirit, and Vanguard operate smaller aircraft types in which the MD-80 compliments the fleet. An MD-80 is not a good choice if you intend to operate only one aircraft type, becuase it leaves you with limited operational flexibility. If you only flying MD-80s and one of you routes maybe sells the aircraft a third full, you're going to lose money unless you can afford to cut the frequencies in order to fill the aircraft. Load factors are very important in fleet planning, because you don't want to have aircraft that go out empty, because a basic rule of airline economics is that seats on flights are perishable commodity, because once that door closes, those seats are lost. If a city cannot support flights with a certain aircraft type, then either a) The airline switches the type of aircraft on that route or b) The airline drops that city because they have no other type of aircraft in which to support the loads in that city.

User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (12 years 3 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2454 times:

Srbmod:

I understand what you're saying, but still, is the cost of operating an MD-80 (block cost) any more than an older, "narrow-fan" 732? IOW, it would appear the costs of flying a 732 and an MD-80 from airport ABC to airport DEF would be the same -- so while you might fly a full 732 and a 2/3's full MD-80, your costs would be the same.

I'm trying to specifically understand the "737 vs. MD-80" thing.

Thanks!

Steve


User currently offlineLBA From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 494 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (12 years 3 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2404 times:

I'll point you back to my 'supply of aircraft and crew' theory.

User currently offlineCaptaingomes From Canada, joined Feb 2001, 6413 posts, RR: 55
Reply 8, posted (12 years 3 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 2342 times:

If I take Jetsgo's use of the MD83, this aircraft operates with 4 flight attendants, just like the 737-200 did with Royal. I'm sure the MD83 is more fuel efficient than the 732, has greater range, and offers 40 more seats, while using the same crew. It is also a more appealing aircraft compared to the 732 as it is newer and much quieter.

We'll see how Jetsgo does with the MD83. Also, you can factor in acquisition cost, as I'm sure MD83's, eventhough they are still quite young, they will be cheap to acquire, especially in today's economy.



"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster
User currently offlineTravatl From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 2173 posts, RR: 7
Reply 9, posted (12 years 3 months 22 hours ago) and read 2288 times:

I spoke with a Spirit F/O recent, and he said Spirit only uses their DC9s for charter operations. All scheduled flights are done on MD80s now.

Travis


User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (12 years 3 months 22 hours ago) and read 2282 times:

While I'll agree that there are more 737's out there, and likely more crews, it's hard to believe that there's really that much of a difference, given that the number of DC-9-XX's (aren't all DC-9's flown on the same type rating) out there, and that crews still, to a large extent, have to go through the 121 training with the Ops Manual for the new airline (for example, I had a friend who flew the EMB-120 for Great Lakes, got hired at Skywest, and still had to go through their full EMB-120 class).

I could totally understand the "crews and aircraft" theory if we were talking about a CV-580 vs. Dash-8 airline, for example, but for two of the most-built commercial aircraft it just doesn't feel solid to me.

And as far as aircraft on the market, it doesn't appear that anyone snapped up the 16 MD-80s that US parked at MHV.

Steve


User currently offlineDutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 57
Reply 11, posted (12 years 3 months 22 hours ago) and read 2260 times:

Southwest, which is the business model for most low-fare operations due to its fabulous success and ability to stay in business and makes profits year after year, is a dedicated 737 operator, and due to Southwest's success with the 737, most other low-fare airlines have followed in their path. Ryanair, for example, Europe's leading low-fare airline, went with the 737, as did others.

But many other low-fare airlines have had success with other types, AirTran operates the DC9S and is converting to an all 717 fleet, Jet Blue is using the A320 very successfully for its low-fare operation, in the past, PSA operated in California with first a 72S fleet and then coverted to the MD80 (which went to US Air and are now parked in the desert). A well run low-fare operation can work with any two-person cockpit crew, two engine, one-class layout, "smaller" airliner, including the MD80s.

Many of the low-fare carriers look to the 737 since a huge number of type was built in each generation and they were "easier" to acquire on the 2nd hand market. Also, leasing companies purchased the 737 is great numbers which increases the type's availability; the MD80 was not as popular with the leasing companies. Also, although many, many MD80s were built, a huge percentage of that type is in service with AA (directly and now through the TWA merger), Alitalia, SAS and Delta and simply never recached the 2nd hand market........when Swissair, for example, retired its MD80 fleet in favor of the A32X series, their aircraft were quickly grabbed by other airlines. Only recently have a large number of MD80s become available, mainly due to the events of 9/11 and the fact that the oldest of the type is a bit more than 20 years old. An exception: NW parked their small MD80 fleet (ex Republic I think) a while ago in Mojhave, and never found a purchaser......odd.

If MD80s are available at good lease rates or purchase prices, I think that a low-fare airline would do fine with them, provided, of course, that the other elements of the business plan were in order. Good luck to JetsGO.



User currently offlineJb From Sweden, joined Aug 1999, 147 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (12 years 3 months 22 hours ago) and read 2258 times:

What about the Airbus 320, Goodjet the Swedish Lowfare have chosen the Airbus in favour for the 737. Anybody have any opinions why a lowfare should chose the Airbus instead?

User currently offlineSjc>sfo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (12 years 3 months 21 hours ago) and read 2241 times:

That's easy. It's the same reason JetBlue purchased the A320. While JetBlue originally planned to purchase 737-700s, Airbus came at them with an offer for an aircraft that could do the same job (A320) at a substantially discounted price.

User currently offlineWoodsboy From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 1031 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (12 years 3 months 20 hours ago) and read 2193 times:

The MD80 series is considerably more efficient than the 737-200, having been a design that is 20 years newer than a -200...and it offer more capacity and range just as has been mentioned. Compared to the 737-400 (from my experience with Alaska Airlines), the 737 is a tad bit more efficient- I am talking like an extra 1000-2000lbs of fuel carried for the Fairbanks to Seattle trip (1540 miles, 3.5 hours). Otherwise, it can carry more cargo (as long as it fits through the doors) and the MD82 fitted with the extra belly tanks have more range as well.

I dont see that the operating economics are very different from the mid-generation 737s (3-4-500s) although it really only compares to the -400 in terms of size, range and economics. As far as flexibility goes, its true that with the MD80 you pretty much get just one size as the availability of the smaller MD87 wouldnt be enough to augment any fleet since there are less than 100 of them out there and practically all still in service.

At any rate, I would still choose the MD80 over the 737 because of its 2x3 configuration, you get a more roomy feel and half of the dreaded "middle" seats which passengers love SO much! But thats just my opinion!


User currently offlineMidEx717 From United States of America, joined May 2002, 132 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 2105 times:

I work for Midwest Express Airlines and they have never had 3x2 seating. It has always been 2x2 seating. F.Y.I we will be Midwest Airlines by Jan 1, 2003.

User currently offlineTT737FO From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 472 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 2092 times:

>>>"That is why airlines like Midwest Express, Spirit, and Vanguard operate smaller aircraft types in which the MD-80 compliments the fleet."

I would kind of like to take issue with that statement. While that may be the case now, prior to 9/11 MIDEX desperately wanted MORE MD8X series aircraft. Many of their used MD80 series were purchased second hand from JAS. When I left, they had a couple more purchased from SAS sitting at their Howell Ave hangar waiting to be refurbished. Point is that the DC-9s were actually going to compliment the MD80s. KC was blueprinted to be an MD-80 hub and crew base.

Vanguard initially had brand spanking new 737s but had to go to the 737-200 simply to get lease payments down. They too, once things started turning around, earnestly sought more MD-80s to go head-to-head with MIDEX out of KC. Kind of surprising that Vanguard would choose an airframe that defeats the purpose of crew commonality.

For this discussion, also keep in mind that on high density routes NYAIR, PSA, AIRCAL, and Frontier were using the MD-80. I guess their resulting success can be argued, but at least on paper the MD-80 is certainly a good choice.





User currently offlineDash8King From Canada, joined Nov 2001, 2743 posts, RR: 10
Reply 17, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 2076 times:

Was it you who took advanage of the Jetsgo offer?

Someone working at YUL said they are really loud though. As long as I can get a good price I don't really care if its the MD-80 series or the 737 series. Of course if Westjet flies the same route I favor them.


User currently offlineMidEx717 From United States of America, joined May 2002, 132 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 2008 times:

Midwest Express never had a hanger on Howell Ave. It is located on 6th street and Air Cargo Way. Plus, never heard the MCI was going to be a MD-80 hub that what we got MKE for. MCI is our second hub but will never be our first hub. MKE is our first hub and has been since day one.

User currently offlineTT737FO From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 472 posts, RR: 8
Reply 19, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1994 times:

>>> "MKE is our first hub and has been since day one."

Okay bud....splitting hairs here.

I was at the company when G _ _ _ y D_ _ _ a was director of standards and safety (he still flies the MD-80). Segundo was in charge of the MEC. To me it's Howell Ave--you know... kitty corner to the Clarion, the hotel that I've spent too many nights in.

If you were with the company for a while, you would have known that until Wisconsin passed its tax laws excluding airlines and aircraft, every new aircraft acquired by MIDEX was being put into service outside of MKE and Wisconsin. After all the DC-9s acquired from Garuda were put into service, everything else from there on out was an MD-80. And yes, due to the fact that the crew hotel bill at the Wyndham Garden was astronomical, MCI was being explored as an MD-80 hub.

Course much has probably changed since I left (besides OMA closing).


User currently offlineYyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16248 posts, RR: 56
Reply 20, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1989 times:

As the 732 loses favour as the start-up aircraft du jour which is already happening, the focus for startups with shift moreso to the 733/734 and the MD-80.

There are over 1100 MD-80's in service, most still with their initial carriers. As these aircraft are increasingly sold, they will become available in large numbers at cheap lease/purchase rates. So the plentiful supply will ensure the MD-80 will become a common startup aircraft.

It wasn't that long ago that the 722 was the start-up aircraft of choice (Greyhound, Kiwi, Air Atlanta USA, Pride Air, Northeast, Pan Am Mark III, etc). THis has now shifted to the 732 which will shift further to the 733/734 & MD-80 this decade.

IMHO

Neil



Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.
User currently offlineSjc>sfo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 1968 times:

The fact that most of the MD-80s are still with their original carriers is a fairly impressive statistic... it at least to some degree shows that their customers were satisfied with what they got.

User currently offlineMidEx717 From United States of America, joined May 2002, 132 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1950 times:

The Midwest Express hanger is not kitty corner from the Clarion hotel not even close. Never has and never will be. I now that WI passed a tax law on airlines and aircraft that happened awhile back. I have been working for ME since 1998 and I do keep up with the news.

Well OMA never closed down and they still have mainteance there. The cities that we fly out of OMA is as followed: MKE,MCI,DCA,EWR and MCO on the weekends. They dropped LAX after 9/11.

Also starting Jan 1,2003 we are changing our name from Midwest Express Airlines to just Midwest Airlines and Skyway is changing there name to just Midwest Connect. If you want the info it is on the Midwest Express Airlines web site. Or maybe you now that allready.


User currently offlineTT737FO From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 472 posts, RR: 8
Reply 23, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 1941 times:

"Well OMA never closed down"

oh so they are basing crews there again?


User currently offlineSjc>sfo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 1931 times:

Great.... Northwest... Southwest.... Midwest...... let's get some Westwest and some Eastwest in here.

User currently offlineTwaneedsnohelp From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 25, posted (12 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 1912 times:

Srbmod:

An MD-80 is not a good choice if you intend to operate only one aircraft type, becuase it leaves you with limited operational flexibility.

What?? This makes no sense. How would only flying a 737-200 or a 737-400 give an airline any more "operational flexibility" than flying say an MD-83. The seats come out faster or something?

Planes don't change. Whether they are 110 seats and fly 1500 miles or 140 and fly 1500 miles, they all have the same flexibility.

TNNH



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