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knope2001
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FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:44 am

Effective 11/7, MDW-BOS is history, apparently joining MDW-DFW and MDW-EWR in the dustbin, three key routes in AirTran's push to build Midway. Remaining are 4x to MSP and 2x to CLT, plus some Florida and of course ATL. AirTran carried a good number of MSP-BOS passengers via Midway, so we'll see if they can replace those now that the BOS tag will be gone.

Along with MDW-BOS, there are a few other drops coming:

IND-LAX on 8/15
IND-SFO on 8/15
BWI-DFW on 9/5

LAS seems to be the flavor of the day for them, and we'll see how they do. But these latest drops continue to show AirTran difficulties sustaining service outside of ATL and Florida point-to-point flying. There are a few exceptions, but most of these were added 3-5 years ago.
 
MAH4546
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:59 am

Interesting. This leaves Boston, once again, with no non-stop service to Chicago Midway (DL ended service a few months ago; which was only started because of AirTran in the first place). So this leaves just Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Minneapolis, and Orlando year-round, and the seasonal flights to Fort Myers and Sarasota.

I wouldn't be surprised if Midway is reduced to just Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, and Sarasota.

[Edited 2007-08-07 05:00:52]
a.
 
Cubsrule
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:07 pm

Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 1):
I wouldn't be surprised if Midway is reduced to just Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, and Sarasota.

MSP seems to be doing well, having seen some increase in service. Having said that, I've heard anecdotal evidence, both here and elsewhere, that FL connects a fair number of MSP passengers over MDW to BOS, CLT, and Florida, so service cuts can't help the route.

I'm unclear on what FL's strategy is in Chicago. At one point, they had a nice focus city centered on business routes (and Florida, of course). That is essentially gone. Much of the business traffic to MSP is absorbed by the ORD shuttles run by UA, AA, and NW, so it might be argued that FL has ZERO business-centered routes remaining. They have to grow outside of ATL and Florida. I realize that MKE may be the answer, but if the merger doesn't go through, where does that leave them?
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
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chrisnh
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:10 pm

This little bit of pruning wouldn't have anything to do with the on-again-off-again-on-again Midwest merger, would it? At first glance, I'd guess 'no.' But companies planning to merge often get their houses in order before they do.

Chris in NH
 
atlaaron
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:25 pm

Quoting ChrisNH (Reply 3):
This little bit of pruning wouldn't have anything to do with the on-again-off-again-on-again Midwest merger, would it? At first glance, I'd guess 'no.' But companies planning to merge often get their houses in order before they do.

I think this is just usual FL starting and stopping markets/routes.
 
Indy
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 1:22 pm

Quoting Knope2001 (Thread starter):

IND-LAX on 8/15
IND-SFO on 8/15

I believe those are just seasonal drops and not permanent. For whatever reason FL treats those routes that way. They will likely be back in May or so. Is MDW-BOS possibly coming back in the spring?
Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
 
MAH4546
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 1:37 pm

Quoting Indy (Reply 5):

I believe those are just seasonal drops and not permanent.

Eh...we'll see. The "seasons" for IND-LAX/SFO keep getting shorter and shorter and, honestly, if they can't make these routes work year-round, they shouldn't be flying them. These aren't summer vacation markets.
a.
 
Indy
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:08 pm

NW does LAX year round with 1x service and goes 2x in the summer. They run SFO as seasonal. Its from the first week or so of June until late August. Its funny that NW only went seasonal on SFO when FL did.
Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
 
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knope2001
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:29 pm

Hard to know for sure if IND-LAX and IND-SFO are coming back or not. They did in 2007, though for just a few months. Same with DFW-BWI and MDW-BOS, although MDW-DFW and MDW-EWR did not return.

I had to laugh at seeing NW pulling IND-SFO so early as well. Classic NW. Perhaps a thread is justified to discuss that too, but for NW I don't think the issue is "can they hold onto and succeed in new markets" but instead "to what lengths will NW go to thwart a competitor?". But that is indeed a different thread, I guess.
 
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knope2001
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 3:18 pm

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 2):
MSP seems to be doing well, having seen some increase in service. Having said that, I've heard anecdotal evidence, both here and elsewhere, that FL connects a fair number of MSP passengers over MDW to BOS, CLT, and Florida, so service cuts can't help the route.

MSP-MDW in particular isn't doing so hot. And the anecdotal evidence about lots of connects and thrus is accurate.

From T100's and DoT stats, here's how MSP-MDW-MSP was for 2006.

Onboard Loan Factor 53.88%

Average onboard per flight
63.0 total passengers per flight MSP-MDW,

29.9 were local MSP-MDW
11.1 were traveling MSP-MDW-BOS
22.0 were traveling MSP-MDW-other (DFW, RSW, SRQ, CLT, EWR, MCO, etc)

47.5% local traffic, 52.5% connecting traffic.


For 2007 there are not yet market stats, so we can't know traffic breakdown. But we do know onboard loads for the first four months of 2007:

42.6% January 2007
49.5% February 2007
57.7% March 2007
48.9% April 2007
 
jetlanta
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 3:45 pm

Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 6):

Eh...we'll see. The "seasons" for IND-LAX/SFO keep getting shorter and shorter and, honestly, if they can't make these routes work year-round, they shouldn't be flying them. These aren't summer vacation markets.

In their defense, high fuel prices really hit LCC long-haul flying disproportionately. Their costs, relative to legacies, get higher*, but they can't extract a revenue premium like the big guys can. We've seen WN pull back long-hauls for the same reason. Short haul flying isn't as adversely affected, so LCC's are refocusing there.

* By this I mean that as fuel becomes a bigger part of their overall cost, the LCC cost advantage starts to dissipate. This is because they pay the same for fuel as everyone else. Their advantage primarily is driven by labor costs. As labor cost shrink as a percentage of all costs, the LCC cost advantage erodes.
 
CMHSRQ
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:30 pm

Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 1):
Interesting. This leaves Boston, once again, with no non-stop service to Chicago Midway (DL ended service a few months ago; which was only started because of AirTran in the first place). So this leaves just Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Minneapolis, and Orlando year-round, and the seasonal flights to Fort Myers and Sarasota.

I wouldn't be surprised if Midway is reduced to just Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, and Sarasota

SRQ is daily year round, and double daily Nov-June and has some of the highest LF in and out of MDW
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billreid
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 8:01 pm

Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 1):
Interesting. This leaves Boston, once again, with no non-stop service to Chicago Midway (DL ended service a few months ago; which was only started because of AirTran in the first place). So this leaves just Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Minneapolis, and Orlando year-round, and the seasonal flights to Fort Myers and Sarasota.

I thought there was only 365 days in the year?
I guess when FL flies to SRQ on all of them that constitutes seasonal service? Check your facts before making schedule statements and ensure you know what you are talking about.
Some people don't get it. Business is about making MONEY!
 
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knope2001
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:15 pm

Quoting Jetlanta (Reply 10):
In their defense, high fuel prices really hit LCC long-haul flying disproportionately. Their costs, relative to legacies, get higher*, but they can't extract a revenue premium like the big guys can. We've seen WN pull back long-hauls for the same reason. Short haul flying isn't as adversely affected, so LCC's are refocusing there.

That isn't what AirTran is generally doing, however. Most of AirTran's growth recently has been long haul, including all the new Vegas markets. San Diego and Seattle long hauls are also new, and AirTran specifically cited increased long-haul flying as a reason why revenue per seat mile is down. I find it interesting that a reason given for pulling LAS-FNT and LAS-CAK last time around was the high cost of fuel. Well, fuel prices were back up to similar levels when they announced the renewed emphasis on Las Vegas. Not exactly sure what made it different this time around, but they are back.
 
RL757PVD
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:36 pm

Quoting Knope2001 (Reply 13):
I find it interesting that a reason given for pulling LAS-FNT and LAS-CAK last time around was the high cost of fuel. Well, fuel prices were back up to similar levels when they announced the renewed emphasis on Las Vegas.

well while they arent redeyes, seems for the most part one leg is either early or late for their LAS routes meaning they are getting increased utilization. A midday flight to LAS would make alot more money flying short hops with the high fuel prices than spending the day to/from LAS. I believe the LAS-IND leg arrives at 1:40 am. Good luck getting someone to pick you up from that flight...
Experience is what you get when what you thought would work out didn't!
 
ATAIndy
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:46 pm

Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 6):
These aren't summer vacation markets.

You made me laugh at loud!  rotfl  These most certainly are vacation markets. For Hoosiers, the great state of California is a huge draw during the summer months, especially SFO and LAX, and even SAN. If you look at the history of these routes you will see that they were both at one time year-round non-stops on TZ and WN had service to LAX.
Boiler up! - Next flights: IND-MIA, MIA-IND
 
access-air
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:55 pm

Quoting Knope2001 (Reply 13):
I find it interesting that a reason given for pulling LAS-FNT and LAS-CAK last time around was the high cost of fuel. Well, fuel prices were back up to similar levels when they announced the renewed emphasis on Las Vegas. Not exactly sure what made it different this time around, but they are back.

Alleginat Air is the reason, Alleginat is stepping on their toes in certain markets and taking away passsngers. I think its good that Air Tran is opening all these new cities to fly out to Vegas at least...In the case of Moline to Las Vegas the tried it and quit in 2 months back in 2004, my guess is because they didnt have the lift (although the flightser were red-eyes that competed with daytime flights with Allgiant down the road in Peoria), now they apparently do....
I think the secret to Alleginats success is that they dont fly every day to Vegas...The rtravel on the days that the flying public has the tendancy to want to fly. Air Tran is copying this tactic and in the case of Moline I am hoping that it will work and they stick with it for longer than a few months this time.....

Access-Air
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EXAAUADL
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:25 pm

I was looking at some T100 data from 2006. FL is a spill carrier outside ATL and Florida. They had 80% plus load factors on their routes out of MDW in July/Aug 2006, only to see those markets drop to 40-50% loads by fall. They really seem to struggle on some of their pts to pts...they have too many planes and it is easy to see why they so badly want YX and MKE...they need somewhere to put excess planes....I'd guess FL is sincere when they say theyll grow MKE and MCI...they have no choice.
 
PHLBOS
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:25 pm

Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 1):
This leaves Boston, once again, with no non-stop service to Chicago Midway

Any chance we could see TZ return to BOS and fly this route (since code-share partner WN doesn't actually serve Logan)? After all, FL picked up the route shortly after TZ pulled out of BOS.
"TransEastern! You'll feel like you've never left the ground because we treat you like dirt!" SNL Parady ad circa 1981
 
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knope2001
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:25 pm

A key thing people sometimes forget about Allegiant is that they earn very significant revenue beyond the ticket price. In the recent news released about increased 2nd quarter earnings:

"This was driven primarily by our ancillary revenue component, which increased by over $6, year-over-year, to almost $21 per passenger."
Allegiant Reports 2nd Quarter Profit. (by Laxintl Aug 7 2007 in Civil Aviation)

That extra $21 per passenger is a challenge for other airlines to match...income from side services, travel packages, things sold onboard, etc. It's how Skybus is hoping to make money, too.
 
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knope2001
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:00 am

Here are some stats about IND-LAX and IND-SFO related to seasonality and FL's place in the market. These stats are for the four quarters of 2007:

IND-SFO total passengers (both ways together)
Q1 249.44
Q2 352.41
Q3 399.56
Q4 366.63


IND-LAX total passengers (both ways together)
Q1 578.22
Q2 765.38
Q3 867.28
Q3 822.28

Some definite seasonal variation, although outside of Q1 it is not as variable as one might think for a seasonal market. There is definitely a solid year-round traffic aspect.

The IND-LAX market has a little more detail in the T100 airline share stats, and I think that detail is somewhat telling.

Passengers per day by quarter on IND-LAX, along with one-way average fare
Q1
NW 253 / $157.40 (nonstop)
WN 118 / $154.97 (1-stop)
FL too small for inclusion (no nonstop, few conx)

Q2
NW 317 / $186.29 (nonstop)
WN 105 / $181.93 (1-stop
FL 139 / $128.36 (nonstop)

Q3
NW 399 / $163.87 (nonstop)
WN 88 / $171.87 (1-stop)
FL 253 / $145.30 (nonstop)

Q4
NW 427 / $162.34 (nonstop)
WN 87 / $160.96 (1-stop)
FL 146 / $121.98 (nonstop

Passengers IND-LAX (both ways) on all airlines *excluding AirTran's traffic*
Q1 578
Q2 626
Q3 615
Q4 677

From these numbers is appears that:

(a) NW has what one would consider the traditional nonstop carrier premium...fares generally a notch higher than other carriers, and a majority of passengers.

(b) WN has a solid, consistant piece of the market in spite of no nonstop service, one with a relatively stable and strong fare. They are not lowball pricing to get this roughly 100 pax per day.

(c) FL's market share seems to have come largely from undercutting fares -- about 20% lower than NW on average. That inspite of having a competitive nonstop schedule.

and finally

(d) When one subtracts out AirTran's traffic, the size of IND-LAX was relatively stable for the four quarters. That suggests to me that, in general, AirTran has been relegated to primarily serving the low-end leisure bubble. I doubt that was their intent when these markets were originally rolled out as year-round. NW and other airlines have a hold on the bulk of the steady year-round traffic demand, business and leisure.
 
EXAAUADL
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:20 am

Quoting Knope2001 (Reply 20):
That suggests to me that, in general, AirTran has been relegated to primarily serving the low-end leisure bubble

That's true in almost all non-ATL markets they serve and also wa strue when F9 ventured out of DEN a few years ago.
 
quickmover
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:33 am

Is it possible that FL may have a LAS tour operation or vacation club of some type filling a portion of these new LAS flights. The revenue would be more guaranteed in that type of scenario. I know that the Gulf Port flights had some type of casino subsidy in the past.
 
Indy
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:42 am

Quoting Knope2001 (Reply 20):
I doubt that was their intent when these markets were originally rolled out as year-round. NW and other airlines have a hold on the bulk of the steady year-round traffic demand, business and leisure.

This should really tell people that price alone isn't everything. It is hard to compete against a good ff and elite program especially when the air fares are reasonable. For a $20 difference you'll probably take those extra miles and segments. This is something that FL should pay close attention to when looking at YX. Those value added services help maintain loyalty. But also important is to be on time. For me that is an issue that left a bad taste in my mouth when FL first started to serve IND. It seemed everything came and went late out of here. It was really bad. That just doesn't encourage business travelers to use you especially when your biggest competitor is doing very well.
Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
 
Cubsrule
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:59 am

Quoting Knope2001 (Reply 9):
22.0 were traveling MSP-MDW-other (DFW, RSW, SRQ, CLT, EWR, MCO, etc)

Also anecdotally (and I realize we don't have the numbers to back this up), I've heard MSP-CLT traffic is very strong, perhaps accounting for nearly 50% of those 22 passengers.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
Indy
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:02 am

BTW I think FL has dropped IND-MIA/PBI. It isn't around right now and I can't find evidence of it in the FL schedule through early March 2008.
Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
 
MAH4546
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:17 am

MIA IND is not bookable yet but will start in January.
a.
 
DCA-ROCguy
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:44 am

Much of the business traffic to MSP is absorbed by the ORD shuttles run by UA, AA, and NW, so it might be argued that FL has ZERO business-centered routes remaining. They have to grow outside of ATL and Florida. I realize that MKE may be the answer, but if the merger doesn't go through, where does that leave them?

This, it seems to me, is the key question. I've been saying for awhile now that AirTran has to decide what they want to become. They seem very confident that they are going to win YX, which would be IMO (for reasons given on the numerous YX/FL threads) a very bad idea for them and YX both. But whether they win YX or not, a strong presence in the airport most convenient to the downtown of the single biggest population center in the Midwest is a good idea. Staking a claim at Midway should not be tied to whatever they do in Milwaukee.

AirTran has spent years pitching themselves to business as well as leisure and VFR pax; why on earth have a business class otherwise? Their FF program buys you tickets on other carriers to other parts of the world, so they aren't just limited to their destinations. They've got the product and they have established themselves on business-competitive routes between major markets (ATL-LGA, BWI-BOS, so there aren't zero business-centered routes remaining) as well as medium-size to major markets (CAK-LGA, PHF-LGA). They can do it more places if they want to. And IMO they have unexploited point-to-point potential on shorter routes, something WN of course has done very successfully.

The question remains, is AirTran willing to spend the cash--and it's going to be lots of cash--to establish and keep themselves on more business-centered routes? Do they really want to go in the direction of becoming a primarily leisure/vacation carrier for the long term? Are they willing to give serious FF promotions, lose money for a while--I mean a year to two years--to establish themselves on routes? It's not 2002 and the legacies have slimmed down. If AirTran doesn't buck it up and chase more business-heavy routes, they could go in the direction of a kind of teal-colored Spirit or Allegiant (which don't get me wrong, seem to do what they do quite well). Which would not realize FL's fuller potential for more higher-yielding traffic and improved shareholder value with their product.

Jim
Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
 
Cubsrule
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:06 am

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 27):
so there aren't zero business-centered routes remaining)

Sorry, I was a touch unclear. I meant zero business routes ex-MDW.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
COERJ145
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:33 am

Quoting PHLBOS (Reply 18):

Any chance we could see TZ return to BOS and fly this route (since code-share partner WN doesn't actually serve Logan)? After all, FL picked up the route shortly after TZ pulled out of BOS.

I'd like to see it, but if Airtran couldn't make it work with 105 seat 717s(TZ used 175 seat 738s), I doubt ATA could make it work with their 733s. However, with the WN network connections, it could work.

[Edited 2007-08-07 20:36:18]
 
VS11
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 5:00 am

Now United will probably raise its fares between ORD-BOS. When I traveled to ORD in May, United had absolutely identical to AirTran's fares.
 
Cubsrule
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 5:21 am

Quoting VS11 (Reply 30):
Now United will probably raise its fares between ORD-BOS. When I traveled to ORD in May, United had absolutely identical to AirTran's fares.

I'm not so sure. FL often offers the same fares as UA, US, and AA to CLT, but the ORD-CLT fares have stayed roughly the same since before FL entered the market (in fact, TZ didn't really affect them either).
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
boeing743
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:52 am

Also, FL start the new routes out of IND to LAS. FL and NW flights are seasonal same with NW to SEA. Many people do not travle there during year but they are high popular during summer seasonal that why we only have seasonal flights to west coast. We usually has WN n/s to LAX from IND short time ago but that was stop due to passengers load.
 
jetlanta
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:58 am

Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 17):
I was looking at some T100 data from 2006. FL is a spill carrier outside ATL and Florida. They had 80% plus load factors on their routes out of MDW in July/Aug 2006, only to see those markets drop to 40-50% loads by fall. They really seem to struggle on some of their pts to pts...they have too many planes and it is easy to see why they so badly want YX and MKE...they need somewhere to put excess planes....I'd guess FL is sincere when they say theyll grow MKE and MCI...they have no choice.

Truer words were never spoken. AirTran is a very well-managed carrier, but they simply haven't been able to become a "carrier of choice". Now that their relative cost advantage has been reduced somewhat, their reliance on spill becomes a problem when not operating in peak demand periods. Hence the Midwest acquisition strategy.
 
DCA-ROCguy
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 10:59 am

Truer words were never spoken. AirTran is a very well-managed carrier, but they simply haven't been able to become a "carrier of choice". Now that their relative cost advantage has been reduced somewhat, their reliance on spill becomes a problem when not operating in peak demand periods. Hence the Midwest acquisition strategy.

Which brings us back to the point I made above: it doesn't seem that AirTran has *tried* to become an established carrier on non-Florida, -Atlanta, or -BWI routes other then the few they have cultivated and successfully developed. Have Leonard, et. al. largely been coasting on the easier traffic to be picked up, without being willing to fight for higher-hanging fruit? Southwest has shown that an LCC--one *without* a business class, ff program with international reach, or even assigned seating--can become established on point-to-point routes. AirTran needs to try. And they'll need to spend money to do it.

IMO They're not going to find better potential places to develop focus operations and help diversify their route system, than DFW and MDW. If they're going to rely on spill and not fight to develop more stable year-round traffic in these markets, where else can they go? Buying a ready-made botique-carrier hub at MKE might be easier, but for reasons given in the YX/FL threads, it's got it's hazards.

And FWIW, finding a less clunky name than "AirTran" wouldn't hurt. That was all right for a small-market niche Florida-leisure startup, but is it really good for the second-largest LCC in the USA? Maybe the Midwest name would survive an acquisition after all.  Wink And then they'd *have* to keep the cookies.  Wink

Jim
Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
 
EXAAUADL
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:15 am

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 34):
And FWIW, finding a less clunky name than "AirTran

How about EASTERN
 
Indy
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:21 am

Quoting Boeing743 (Reply 32):
FL and NW flights are seasonal

Which routes are you talking about?

1x daily to LAX with NW at IND is year round. The 2nd is seasonal.
The SFO flight is seasonal.
The LAS flight for NW is year round.
Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
 
FlyPNS1
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:58 am

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 34):
it doesn't seem that AirTran has *tried* to become an established carrier on non-Florida, -Atlanta, or -BWI routes other then the few they have cultivated and successfully developed.

I'll agree with this statement, though I think we are holding Airtran to a pretty high standard. How many LCC's have successfully diversified away from a primary focus point? Only WN. F9 is built around DEN, B6 around JFK, NK around FLL, etc. And of course, WN started a lot earlier than these LCC's and in a time when most legacies had such high-cost structure, that WN could waltz in anywhere. Not true for todays' LCC's.

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 34):
Have Leonard, et. al. largely been coasting on the easier traffic to be picked up, without being willing to fight for higher-hanging fruit?

To some extent maybe, but the primary focus has been to build up ATL in order to 1) survive any onslaught from DL and 2) improve ATL's revenue performance by being able to offer a large variety of cities.

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 34):
Southwest has shown that an LCC--one *without* a business class, ff program with international reach, or even assigned seating--can become established on point-to-point routes.

Again though, WN did most of this growth in a time when the legacies had such high costs they couldn't effectively fight back. Not true anymore....even WN is finding new markets harder to penetrate.

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 34):
They're not going to find better potential places to develop focus operations and help diversify their route system, than DFW and MDW.

I'll disagree on MDW. First, there aren't many gates available to FL in MDW, so they'll never really get critical mass there. Second, almost every major route from Chicago (ORD/MDW) is already well-served with 2 to 4 existing carriers. FL will never gain a lot of revenue traction in a market like that.

DFW would be better, but poses some challenges too. In order to make DFW really work, you need to have a good customer base on both the east coast and the west coast. Having customers on both sides creates good flows on an east to west axis. FL right now has a good east base, but no west coast base. They are starting to build in the west, but still have a ways to go.

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 34):
And FWIW, finding a less clunky name than "AirTran" wouldn't hurt. That was all right for a small-market niche Florida-leisure startup, but is it really good for the second-largest LCC in the USA?

I'll agree Airtran is a bit clunky, but at this point it works and it would be tough to change. Not to mention that many carriers have pretty ridiculous names. Southwest, even though most of their customers aren't flying to the Southwest these days. Delta, named after the Mississippi delta region, despite the fact that DL is now the largest transatlantic carrier. Northwest, who isn't really that big in the actual Northwest and whose hubs are in the Midwest, south and Tokyo.
 
Cubsrule
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:14 pm

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 37):
How many LCC's have successfully diversified away from a primary focus point?

The problem for FL is that future growth has to be somewhere besides ATL because ATL is maxed out in terms of gate space (at least in the short term). B6 is arguably beginning to run into the same problem at JFK, but they've effectively grown BOS (and to a lesser extent LGB and IAD) in order to more successfully become less JFK-centered.

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 37):
First, there aren't many gates available to FL in MDW, so they'll never really get critical mass there.

Critical mass didn't seem necessary for what they were trying to do, but they were unable to fill the aircraft with local passengers. That's where they failed. It would have been tough for them to carry a lot of passengers LGA-PHX or DCA-SEA simply because those passengers already have so many other options.

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 37):
FL will never gain a lot of revenue traction in a market like that.

2 questions come to mind. First, isn't that also true of Florida? FL seems to capture enough Florida traffic to do all right there.

Second, are you then arguing that the attempt to purchase TZ's gates was a mistake?
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FlyPNS1
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:46 pm

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 38):
Critical mass didn't seem necessary for what they were trying to do, but they were unable to fill the aircraft with local passengers. That's where they failed.

And you won't get local travelers in a competitive market like Chicago if you can't offer them a portfolio of routes. Why fly FL on a smattering of business routes when I can fly AA/UA and get a complete portfolio? This is exactly why WN is ramping up so fast at DEN. In order to compete with UA/F9, they've got to offer a large portfolio.

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 38):
First, isn't that also true of Florida? FL seems to capture enough Florida traffic to do all right there.

Florida (and LAS) are a different beast. First, you aren't fighting for nearly as many business travelers who are driven by flight schedules and frequent flyer programs. Second, demand to many of the Florida leisure markets is virtually endless...as long as you can endure the low-yields. Third, Florida actually has some gaps in service as many of the legacies (particularly DL and US) have pulled back over the years. Chicago doesn't have many gaps in service.

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 38):
Second, are you then arguing that the attempt to purchase TZ's gates was a mistake?

Most likely it would have been. The extra gates would have given FL a chance to build critical mass, but it certainly would have been a brutal slugfest for FL to actually make money. This is exactly why TZ itself couldn't make money despite haveing a reasonable hub type operation at MDW and serving many key business markets (BOS, DCA,etc).
 
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 1:35 pm

Most likely it would have been. The extra gates would have given FL a chance to build critical mass, but it certainly would have been a brutal slugfest for FL to actually make money. This is exactly why TZ itself couldn't make money despite haveing a reasonable hub type operation at MDW and serving many key business markets (BOS, DCA,etc).

Wasn't part of TZ's problem that they renewed their fleet more or less overnight, and went from having low a/c costs to huge financing costs? Also, they were flying one-class 738's which someone noted above seated 175--far more seats than FL needs to fill in two-class 717's or 73G's. I can't help wondering if FL could get even four or five gates at MDW they could build a reasonable operation. If they have been getting decent cross-feed on some of the MDW routes as suggested above, maybe a bigger network could have produced more. FL wouldn't just be depending upon Chicago pax to fill the planes.

WN. F9 is built around DEN, B6 around JFK, NK around FLL, etc. And of course, WN started a lot earlier than these LCC's and in a time when most legacies had such high-cost structure, that WN could waltz in anywhere. Not true for todays' LCC's.

Interesting, but I would argue that AirTran seems to have held themselves to a higher standard by offering a business-class product and an FF program with international reach. IIRC in some of our FL/ATL threads in the past some have argued that these things were needed for FL to compete with DL. Maybe so, but the result is that they have a product with--it seems to me--better potential than many LCC's for growing business traffic.

And as we know they have boatloads of a/c on order and need places to put them. (I can't imagine MKE could absorb most of those a/c on top of YX's existing fleet, despite FL's claims about growing MKE if they got YX!) But as you note, legacies have lower costs now. Which means FL would, yes, have a costly slugfest to establish market share in a big market like Chicago or the Metroplex. But do they have another choice?

Jim
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SANFan
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 6:25 pm

Quoting Knope2001 (Thread starter):
Along with MDW-BOS, there are a few other drops coming:
IND-LAX on 8/15
IND-SFO on 8/15
BWI-DFW on 9/5

I also see that all SEA service is completely gone by 11/7; can you enlighten me, Knope'? Will SEA be back (the same question applies to IND to LA and SF I guess?) I don't recall if both SEA routes were originally announced as "seasonal" -- I thought BWI was but not ATL....

Also, in a positive vain, SAN to both ATL and MCO are still bookable thru the current rez close date of 3/7/08. I am well aware that SAN service was originally announced in early 2007 as "seasonal" (which got my bile surging  Wink ) and it looks like the sked planners at FL saw the error of their way and fixed it. I'm very pleased that the MCO service has apparently survived and wonder what you may know about it: LF?, doing better than expected?, maybe going daily next year (as I expect it could/should)?

With a/c available, do you think we might even see more SAN service next year, like to IND perhaps?

bb
 
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knope2001
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Wed Aug 08, 2007 8:35 pm

Seattle was announced as seasonal and operated that way last year too.

With SAN apparently staying year-round, i thought perhaps AirTran was turning over a new leaf and not dropping routes which have a solid year-round base of traffic. But SAN seems to be the exception, as IND-LAX, IND-SFO, DFW-BWI, ATL-SEA, etc are still being dropped over the upcoming weeks.

It's too early for there to be official stats on FL's SAN service, but most likely they filled plenty of seats. The issue with long-haul is that it is notoriously low-yield and burns up a lot of aircraft time. That's doesn't mean that it isn't or can't be profitable, but high loads don't necessarily mean profits. That's not just specific to AirTran, either.
 
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:04 am

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 27):
I've been saying for awhile now that AirTran has to decide what they want to become

I think their lack of identity is the single biggest problem they have. I grew up in ATL flying often with my Dad on DL and J7. I always hated DL because it always felt stuffy and boring, even though there were great F/As who always had wings for me.  Wink But I always loved J7 because they, like WN, tried to make flying fun. When FL came around, they brought on a new management team that changed the culture at J7/FL -- obviously for the better in some places like mx. But they changed the culture on-board the a/c to one more similar to the legacies, probably to make pax feel they were flying a professional airline rather than one with issues like J7. But what this had lead to is an identity crisis. Unlike WN and B6 (never flown NK), FL doesn't know who they are. They can't seem to determine if they're a fun LCC like WN/B6, or a more traditional airline that simply has lower fares. Until they determine that, they're going to stick in this limbo. I'm awfully young with little real-world business experience (just gov't in DC really), but I'm convinced that the culture that management promotes is the single most important part of any company. If FL doesn't know their personality, they won't ever figure out a truly successful plan; they'll just continue in the limbo they're in for as long as they can.

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 27):
The question remains, is AirTran willing to spend the cash--and it's going to be lots of cash--to establish and keep themselves on more business-centered routes?

FL does not have a backbone, that's clear. ROC-BOS was a promising route that they dropped. I'm not as sold on DFW between AA at DFW and WN at DAL, but there is clearly a larger market there to be grown than what FL has right now.

Outside of Atlanta/Florida, FL has their identity crisis. What they need to decide is who their base is. They have a good brand in the Southeast, and that is where they should try to build more of a loyal passenger following. They need to move into stations like XNA, LIT, BHM, CAE, GSP and such.

More important that opening new stations, though, is the short-haul routes they've left untapped from their current stations. They added MEM-MCO only after F9 started the route. There was no reason that MEM should not have had a n/s to MCO. There are opportunities in three of the largest southern markets after ATL -- CLT, RDU, and MEM, not to mention MSY. FL doesn't seem to want to build any of these stations, though CLT has had some added routes. They should certainly be willing to go head to head against NW in MEM and US in CLT. Both legacies have numerous issues and the time to strike is now, especially since WN is not in either city. MSY and RDU both have WN, but FL can compete successfully agaisnt WN if they are willing to spend the money and offer the frequency that passengers need/expect.

If I was a regular business passenger flying out of a market like RDU, I would have a hard time choosing FL consistently because every flight is to ATL and any other routes they might add are just as likely to go away. They need to add more routes out of these larThat is what needs to change -- if they add a route, they need to accept the losses and stick with it until it's either successful or until it truly fails. Another market that miffs me completely is IAD. J7 had a good operation at IAD that FL is unwilling to try to rebuild. They pulled an early morning ATL-IAD flight recently -- business passengers must have consistency to expect them to choose an airline regularly, and this is the test that FL all too often fails.
 
access-air
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:27 am

Quoting CitrusCritter (Reply 43):
business passengers must have consistency to expect them to choose an airline regularly

Not only business passengers but leisure passengers too need to have consistancy....If you are re-working your schedule over completely and adding and deleting markets every other month, you cannot build up your passenger loyalty because people will be afraid that you would pull the service when they have a reservation.

AirTran did that in Moline in 2004....They plunked down a 3 times per week schedule form Moline to Vegas as a knee jerk response to Allegiant opening up Peoria Vegas flights. AirTran's flights were red-eyes and not popular so the Vegas bound pax drove down the road to Peoria as Allegiant flew a morning out bound and a mid afternoon return.....
AirTran started their MLI-LAS svc then in June and before September wass over they pulled it out....

Hopefully when they restart the MLI-LAS service the 16th of this month they will stay!!!! This time they have better times!!

Access-Air
Remember, Wherever you go, there you are!!!!
 
Cubsrule
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:21 am

Quoting DCA-ROCguy" class=quote target=_blank>DCA-ROCguy (Reply 40):
I can't help wondering if FL could get even four or five gates at MDW they could build a reasonable operation.

FL has 4 gates (and used a city gate sometimes in addition). Perhaps the problem was that they insisted on filling those gates with low-yielding Florida flights and were thus unable to offer this 'critical mass' we're concerned about. IMO 35 flights to business destinations would have been enough to gain some customer loyalty. Perhaps something like...

6x MSP
6x LGA
3x BOS
3x DCA
3x LAX
2x SFO
2x SEA
2x DEN
4x STL
2x PHL
2x DFW

...would have been a decent start. (Coincidentally, this destination list is remarkably similar to what TZ was offering in its prime; CLT has been subtracted and STL added, but it's pretty darn close).
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TZTriStar500
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:31 am

I have to ask the question here that was posed on another thread; Why are you all so hard on FL when the airline is profitable and successful where countless others have failed?

Just because they drop routes is not an indicator alone of failure. It costs virtually nothing to drop routes between two cities that they already serve. The ability and add routes between existing cities is more a show of an airline's efficiency and nimbleness in my opinion.

As for MDW, this place is tough. There was a recent study that stated even WN was marginally profitable to a loss on certain routes out of MDW and they have the brand, mass, and right size aircraft. I believe TZ could have made the MDW hub work with the 15 gates they had if they had the right size aircraft (717/737-700).
35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
 
Cubsrule
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:35 am

Quoting TZTriStar500 (Reply 46):
It costs virtually nothing to drop routes between two cities that they already serve.

Yes and no. Brand loyalty is worth something (it has to be, because at some point the successful carrier MUST demand some sort of revenue premium), and indiscriminately adding and dropping routes definitely hurts the brand.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
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TZTriStar500
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:58 am

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 47):
Yes and no. Brand loyalty is worth something (it has to be, because at some point the successful carrier MUST demand some sort of revenue premium), and indiscriminately adding and dropping routes definitely hurts the brand.

I disagree to a point. For the LCCs and even many legacies, brand loyalty is becoming less and less a factor over price unless your a gold/platinum FF. Exceptions to this I see are CO, WN, and B6 which have built distinct brands that can clearly be differentiated from the pack. Though the rest try to differentiate themselves, they ultimately all offer the same thing to many, then it boils down to cost and convenience.

As for adding and dropping routes this is not a new thing FL just invented. Airlines have done this for years. Revenue premium matters for the carrier as a whole, but for routes where they are the lowest cost or the only game in town, it doesn't matter.
35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
 
Indy
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RE: FL Dropping MDW-BOS

Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:07 pm

Price may be a factor but it isn't everything. I think if prices are in the ballpark that people will go with the familiar airline. If your airline gets you where you need to go as promised and your luggage arrives as well why risk it for a few bucks right? If someone does right by you then stick with them even if they aren't the absolute cheapest. I can understand using someone else if the prices are absolutely out of line. If one airline is charging $200 and your airline is charging $400 then you obviously go the cheaper route but you don't switch if your airline is charging $220 and the other guy is charging $200. There will always be the cheapskate that will switch to save a dollar but that isn't the person you want to worry about anyway.

But anyway my thinking is that brand name and reliability are bigger factors than perhaps even price.
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