frugalqxnwa
Posts: 550
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2004 3:18 am

RJ Outlook 20 Years From Now

Tue Apr 27, 2004 9:07 am

What do my fellow a.netters think the regional jet market will be like twenty years from now? Will the RJ love-affair end, or will it go on? What aircraft types do people see succeeding?
 
ssides
Posts: 3248
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2001 12:57 am

RE: RJ Outlook 20 Years From Now

Tue Apr 27, 2004 9:42 am

Well, like just about every prediction put forth on this board, the ones below will probably be proven wrong.

First, RJs will continue to replace former turboprop routes, but not at the rates we saw in the 1990s. Shorter, small-market routes (DFW-ABI, DFW-ACT, MEM-TUP, ATL-VLD, etc.) still make profitability difficult with jets. They are too short and don't carry enough passengers to make a consistent profit. Still, as operation becomes more efficient, I think you will probably see turboprops disappear within 10-15 years.

What happens to RJs on other routes is a different question. On one hand, there could be a big RJ backlash in the next few years. The RJ phenomenon has been driven by a curious mix of market forces. Business travelers told airlines they wanted more frequencies, so when airlines couldn't fill up 737s and A319s, they looked to the RJ even on longer, larger-city routes (DFW-MSP, for example). At the same time, however, airlines saw that certain cities could be served non-stop instead of through a connecting hub, so they started service on these routes as well (like AUS-SFO). This satisfied people who were tired of connecting through congested hubs like DFW, ORD, and ATL.

However, as the RJs start gaining a more significant share of the market, I think you will see more frequent flyers getting fed up with them. The biggest complaints, of course, are the lack of legroom and overhead bin space. I flew MSP-DFW on a CRJ-700 yesterday, and half the passengers were standing in the jetway on arrival, waiting for their gate-checked bags. This is a hassle I'd expect when flying through an airport like ABI, but not on a route like MSP-DFW. In addition, elite flyers don't have the potential to be upgraded on an RJ flight. If I were a Platinum AAdvantage member returning from a long business trip, I'd definitely prefer First Class on an MD-80 than a cramped window seat on an EMB-140. Airlines are betting that these travelers prefer frequency to large planes, and if another airline tries the opposite and is successful, look for some major marketing campaigns (e.g. "Big Jets. Big Legroom. United." or something along those lines).

In another scenario, however, RJ growth on "major" routes could hold steady at its current stage, but not expand too terribly much. Personally, I can't see routes like DFW-MSP going all-RJ in the near future, unless the market just really tanks. I do think there will be some slight growth in the point-to-point markets, such as AUS-RDU (which should start this fall) and other mid-size markets. People from non-hub major cities like AUS can get sick of connecting through big hubs, and the RJs provide them with another option that takes less time and hassle.

I think the latter scenario is more likely. Look for RJs to expand on some routes, but I'd expect some other major big-hub routes to remain mainline, and maybe go back to all-mainline service. As I said before, however, no one really knows what will happen.
"Lose" is not spelled with two o's!!!!
 
flymia
Posts: 6806
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2001 6:33 am

RE: RJ Outlook 20 Years From Now

Tue Apr 27, 2004 9:57 am

RJ fleets are surposed to duble with in the next 15-20 years. I dont care if they are not the best to fly in as a PAX. The more RJ's the easier it will be for me to get a job on a regional or Cargo in 10-16 years.
"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
 
frugalqxnwa
Posts: 550
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2004 3:18 am

RE: RJ Outlook 20 Years From Now

Tue Apr 27, 2004 10:08 am

Ssides, thanks for your opinion.

All:

I agree with Ssides' outlook predition, although I believe the RJ backlash has more of a chance of happening than he lets on. One of the reason I now fly NW when I go home over school breaks is to avoid flying on a cramped RJ, and UA was still looking very grim when I set up my World Perks account.
 
srbmod
Posts: 15446
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 1:32 pm

RE: RJ Outlook 20 Years From Now

Tue Apr 27, 2004 10:37 am

I think that there will be a breakthrough in the RJ sector in terms of short haul economics. There will a sub-30 passenger RJ available that has very good operating costs. And this breakthrough a/c will not come from Bombardier or Embraer; I think that a currently small general aviation a/c maker may be the one to do it. Of course the Small Aircraft Transportation System being planned by NASA and the FAA may be fully operational by this point, and many RJs may be headed for the scrapyard, and others destined for other non-pax uses.
 
flymia
Posts: 6806
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2001 6:33 am

RE: RJ Outlook 20 Years From Now

Tue Apr 27, 2004 12:02 pm

I really dont think thats small aircraft transportion system will ever really work. Just like the automatic highways. They work but people just dont want them.
"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
 
desertjets
Posts: 7564
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: RJ Outlook 20 Years From Now

Tue Apr 27, 2004 10:46 pm

I think SSides analysis is pretty spot-on. Largely what happens with the RJ fleet is dependent on the general health of the airline industry. If American could fill and fly an MD-80 profitably on DFW-MSP it will, but if it cannot (and maintain a reasonable frequency) expect to see some RJs flying some of those frequencies.

I think the bigger question is what role the new 70-100 seat planes from Embraer and others will do? Since these new designs promise a higher level of comfort and on-board stowage room passengers may not be so adverse to them vs the turboprops and smaller RJs. But I think the main issue to be worked out on these planes, and their successful large-scale use, is a labor issue. I am sure the majors would love to have these things flown by a regional subsidiary at their depressed pay scales, but it does not seem likely that the unions at both the regionals and majors would be too happy about that.

And a third issue that will need to be addressed is airfield crowding. Some US airports are at or over capacity as it is, many will be there in the not too distant future. Unless some major capacity expansion occurs in the near term, large-scale use of smaller planes may just be impossible at the busier airports.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia