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Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Mon Sep 02, 2002 9:26 pm

As low-cost, low-fare, low-frills airlines seem to be the wave of the future, are low-cost commuters possible? Although inflight service is already minimal and salaries are much lower than majors, is there room for a cheap commuter? Fares on short commuter segments can be pretty exhorbitant. AirTran, JetBlue and Southwest are holding their own against the majors; could they be as successful with their own feeder services? I imagine there is now, or is about to be, a large supply of available turboprops and even late-model RJs (with AE shuffling sizes) available. How about it?
I work for Southwest, but the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Southwest.
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RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Mon Sep 02, 2002 9:42 pm

Big problem - operating costs. Costs per passenger of commuter aircraft are somewhat higher than, for example, those of the 737. I don't have the exact figures at my fingertips at the moment, I will see if I can find some, perhaps someone else may have a knowledge of this?

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RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Mon Sep 02, 2002 9:47 pm

This may be an answer:

E-creation Joins - with $4 million in aircraft sales is the follow on project from ThrustSSC and is run by Richard Noble. This Internet-driven company is designing and building a new six seater turboprop composite taxi aircraft, the Farnborough F1, and its associated operating system. The ThrustSSC project built up a huge following on the internet during the six years of the project and many of the lessons learnt during that time are being carried forward on the new web site, The new merchandise shop, which has been built by E-creation,, will provide members of the public with a quick and easy way to order merchandise. is aiming to revolutionise short haul, 1,000-mile air travel with the high performance six-seater Farnborough F1 model. The website provides regular updates on the design process and the overall progress of the project. Those following the project can now purchase a wide range of products, from embroidered fleece jackets to a limited edition F1 poster, through the new website shop, which will be launched on Monday 20 November 2000. required an Internet application for members of the public to buy Farnborough Airforce merchandise quickly and easily. Farnborough Airforce is the project's supporters club. For E-creation project manager Paul Barrass, "the crucial factors was ease of use and reliability for the public whilst minimising download time; you can't keep people waiting in web stores. now has a very robust and fast online store, using industry strength SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption and a secure Microsoft SQL server for orders." now has orders totaling U$4m for the first two aircraft off the production line. For Richard Noble "the flexibility of E-creation's solution is crucial as we will now be selling all aircraft through the Internet. The high quality service that E-creation has provided means the order form will be available in the merchandise shop, and can be confident in the security and robustness of the site."

Director of E-creation, Jan-Erik Paul, says "The Internet has already caused significant revitalisation and rethinking in ticketing and logistics. Richard Noble's work is truly leading edge and will significantly change the approach that the travel industry has towards the Internet. For E-creation, our experience in developing E-commerce and E-business applications for the travel and logistics area is continually increasing and we are looking forward to being at the forefront of influencing and helping to build this new industry."
About is the World's first internet-driven aerospace company, currently designing and shortly building the Farnborough F1 air taxi aircraft. The company depends on its internet operations for its funding, recruitment and product awareness. The Unisys sponsored web site currently features some 300 pages following the design, development and technology of the F1 aircraft. employs 32, is the first of the new generation parallel aerospace industries and is financed without government or institutional funding.

The Farnborough F1 is the first of the new generation long range air taxi aircraft, providing an internet-driven on demand point to point taxi service able to operate off the small nearby and uncongested airfields, with a range of up to 1000 miles. Compared with traditional airline travel, the F1 provides a genuine alternative and can save 50% of executive time without passenger stress. The Pratt & Whitney Canada-powered 6-seater aircraft features all carbon construction for safety and productivity, cruises at 30,000ft and sets new standards in aerodynamics, low noise and operator profitability. The global market may be as large as 16,000 aircraft.

About E-creation

E-creation is an award-winning*, dynamic digital design agency with over four years experience in delivering digital communication solutions. E-creation's focus is on the development of enterprise strength Internet sites and Intranets where content is database driven and/or sophisticated functionality is required.

E-creation achieves over 80% of its business through referral or existing clients (such as Dorling Kindersley, BP Amoco, Unisys, Cap Gemini/TDG and WHSmith). This is a testament to E-creation's focus on helping businesses in a long term partnership strategy with in-house capabilities for project consultancy, design, development, management and hosting.

* E-creation won the Thames Valley Business award early in 2000 and is currently nominated as a finalist for the Thames Valley Business of the Year award. E-creation featured in Design Week's 'Top 100 consultancies' survey where E-creation ranked fourth in the UK for projected growth.

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RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Mon Sep 02, 2002 9:51 pm

I live in a small to medium market area with small commuters from Delta, Continental, United and US-Air & Northwest. The city just agreed to work with a Low-Cost/Low Frills airline to provide flights to Chicago-Midway. I think it depends on where the flights are too for these to work out.
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RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Mon Sep 02, 2002 10:00 pm

Most low-co's already fly commuter-type routes.

Problem solved  Big grin
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RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Mon Sep 02, 2002 10:02 pm

I just remembered that ATA uses ChicagoExpress, I believe a wholly-owned subsidiary, for feed to its Midway hub. I can see AirTran doing the same in Atlanta, except for the gate restraints, with commuter flights to places like GSP, ABY, MGM and GNV.
I work for Southwest, but the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Southwest.
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RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Mon Sep 02, 2002 10:15 pm

Most low-co's already fly commuter-type routes.

Actually there are probably hundreds of communities like the ones I mentioned that are more than three hours drive from any airport served by a LCC but still cannot support a 100-seat or larger jet. I think this is a substantial untapped market.
I work for Southwest, but the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Southwest.

RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Mon Sep 02, 2002 10:50 pm

The low-fare commuter airline (Chicago Express) makes up for the revenue in load factors. They run high loads on most of their routes (Toledo for example is consistantly near 85% average for the entire month). It is just not viable for this kind of operation in even smaller markets (none of Chicago Express' markets are terribly small...).
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RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Mon Sep 02, 2002 11:53 pm

You are correct with this low cost example. Chicago Express Airlines, found a niche in the Midwest after Midway airlines (original) left Chicago. They struggled along (being a small company with not a lot of cash) until up and coming low fare airline ATA saw the secret weapon they could have in the niche market and bought them up, pumped them full of money and they never stopped adding passengers! Now ATA Connection is moving about 90,000 pax a month though MDW, and probably 95% connect onto ATA(that's a bunch of 73's and 75's!!). Every month they keep adding pax and with tons of markets yet to be served, ATA has definitely got more than what it paid for in this small commuter. All you have to do is check the newspaper reports in the cities that they enter, to see the effect the low fare carrier/commuter has on the market.

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RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Tue Sep 03, 2002 12:50 am

"(Toledo for example is consistantly near 85% average for the entire month)."

Seiple...actually that's DAY ;o) TOL just finished up our second full month of operation and boarded just under 3000 passengers and ran a 73.2% load factor. FNT did just slightly better then us, so I guess both stations are doing something right because both are picking up a 5th flight October 1st. As for the 95% connecting to ATA, TOL must be the odd one out, because TOL's O/D for MDW is 24% of all pax boarded...which I'm happy with, I'd like to see that jump to about 1/3 of all pax boarded, would help the TOL revenues and possibility to warrant a 6th flight....but I can't count my chickens yet, we are steadily growing and working hard and doing things right....ya know winter ops are just around the corner ;o)

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RE: Low-Cost, Low-Frills Commuters?

Tue Sep 03, 2002 12:57 am

Good to hear Windy City is doing well. But they are competing with foces such as Northwest (with Mesaba and Pinnacle), American (with Eagle) and United (with ACA, AirWilly). The 3 major airlines offer what ATA cannot and that is frequency and jet feeder service, but will probably be more expensive. But at the same time these major players, especially NW are good at playing hardball and they'll do what they have to, to keep and build their market share.


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