1) Return to the "rolling hub" concept. Make every hub and focus city a rolling hub. Current delays at ORD
are causing congressmen and the FAA to suggest that perhaps slot-controls are necessary. Rolling hubs are proven to reduce delays, and this concept helps #3 significantly.
2) Reduce dependence on RJs. While RJs have a higher yeild when replacing larger jets flight-for-flight, when flight numbers must be increased to meet the available demand, RJs are not an effective option. On routes where RJs are being used more than six times per day, I would substitute MD
-80s. This would allow me to reduce the number of flights to a more managable number (helping out #1), reduce costs due to fewer flight hours being paid, all while keeping the same number of seats while providing enough options for any reasonable traveller.
3) Utilize aircraft more. Again, this helps out #1. By operating aircraft as frequently as possible, I can actually reduce the number of aircraft I need, increase my revenue-generating capacity, have minimally increased variable costs, and decrease the per-flight load of fixed costs. This also helps increase the efficiency of my gates, aircraft, and other fixed-cost assets.
4) Rationalize my fare structure. While AA
tried to do this in the early 1990s and it resulted in a fare war, a slow, methodical reduction in both the price and variability of airfares could bring the company into line with the LCCs in terms of ability to sell last-minute tickets to business travellers. Instead of fifty different fare classes being sold on a single route, perhaps only five fare levels and a few sale fares. While of course I would still have a comparative premium for last-minute First Class seats, that premium would be reasonable to a business traveller, rather than exhorbitant, and make the passenger more willing to travel my well-known and established network rather than the lesser-known LCC.
5) Stop asking for wage concessions. Airline employees are still paid very well, but not as well as they once were. Current wage levels are more than reasonable to the airline if the first four conditions are met. Every time there are wage concessions, it hurts the morale of the employees, which will show through in the service that is given to customers. Unhappy customers means an unprofitable company.
6) Hedge fuel. Southwest has stated that, without fuel hedging, they lost money last year. Hedging fuel at lower prices, at least for the near term, is necessary for any fuel-intensive operation, including air, rail, and road transport. In the future, as prices begin to fall (we can hope), hedging my not be necessary. However, if the airline so chooses, it might continue to hedge its fuel costs in order to keep in practice and to bet against sudden price spikes.
I have more ideas, but I must get ready for work.
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.