So, I Want To Start An Airline

Tue Sep 12, 2000 5:08 am

I need all the suggestions I can get. Nothing should be considered trivial. Ground operations, flight operations, type of plane, costs, regulations, staffing,all sorts of stuff. I know there are people out there who know more about these things than me, and I would appreciate all the help I can get. Point me in the right direction or multiple directions, and I will take off running

RE: So, I Want To Start An Airline

Tue Sep 12, 2000 7:17 am

1. This is the most important thing you can learn about starting an airline, or any other sort of public-contact business. Hire the right people, and be good to them. Give them all you can afford to give, because they, not you, constitute your airline. If you need a model, use Mr. C. E. Woolman, of Delta. To learn what not to do, use the examples of Frank Lorenzo, Carl Icahn, Michael Brady, and Bill Britt.

2. Hire competent pilots. It is very difficult to find pilots with valuable experience nowadays, but I can recommend some who would be glad to help you in your enterprise.

3. Make sure that your employees, no matter what their position, understand that their jobs depend on the customers. If you treat the employeees well, they will treat your customers well.

4. Do NOT scrimp on maintenance. This includes aircraft, and the ground equipment that is necessary to support your operation. Always insist that your mechanics are well trained, and dedicated to safety. If a mechanic balks at something, listen to him/her. He/she might have a valid point.

5. Your chief pilot must be knowledgeable, but he must place trust in the pilots who work for him. Your director of maintenance must be the kind of guy or gal who will tell you that you need to loosen up the money belt to keep the airline flying. When a pilot refuses to take a flight for a valid reason, you do not need a chief pilot who will take said flight and endanger your customers.

6. If you really want to start an airline, find a market that doesn't have one, then invade a market that does. Start by flying from Joplin to Springfield, then do your best to root TWA out of St. Louis. In many ways, you have to be willing to play cutthroat.

7. Get a partner that knows something about aviation, and another partner who knows something about business. I presume that you know nothing about either, or you wouldn't want to start an airline in the first place.

8. If you have a large fortune, you can make a small fortune out of it in a very short time in aviation.
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RE: So, I Want To Start An Airline

Tue Sep 12, 2000 7:19 am

1) Identify a concept. That is to say - will it be a low-cost, no/low-frills airline, like easyJet or the original ValuJet, or will it be an airline aimed at high-end Business users?

2) Identify a market. That is to say - will it be long-haul, short-haul, transoceanic, domestic, from where, to where etc. Will it have flights non-stop from New York to London, London to Singapore, Los Angeles to Auckland, New York to Seattle, or Boston to Washington DC? All these concepts have to be addressed.
This could have a bearing on what concept you take up... ie if you are starting a shuttle from DCA-BOS/LGA, then it is more likely to be geared toward Business travelers, but at the same time there is unlikely to be a requirement for any separate Business / First Class cabin.

3) Decide where the airline will be based, and what the size of the home Origin/Destination market is for such a city. EG.. an airline starting service from Savannah will not require as many services as one starting an airline in Jacksonville - only 100 miles down the road. The reason for this is because the city of Jacksonville has a much bigger catchment area and is so huge in itself.

4) Are you going to compete with the majors? Are you going to enter an alliance with an airline such as Delta (a highly recommended thing if you plan to run mainly out of the Southeast, as no-one wants to take on Delta - they have the biggest cash supplies of any airline in the world.) If you compete with the US majors they tend to compete on convenience and schedules rather than in-flight service etc... they are all pretty much the same in that respect, at least on domestic routes. The competition however on transatlantic routes, for example, with airlines such as Virgin and British Airways, is also focused on In-flight service. Both airlines (+ the US carriers) offer excellent premium products, each however with their own strategies to tackle the market. The US carriers' coach class are pretty much standard, but they are better on FF program benefits for discounted-ticket passengers. The UK carriers (and European carriers generally) compete more inflight, including Coach Class, and less on pre-/post-flight benefits.

5) Once the first four are done, identify a direction for the fleet. The way things seem to be going nowadays with most airlines (but not all) you are either a Boeing customer or an Airbus customer. Identify which aircraft suit your requirements better. That is to say, if you have 250 passengers wanting to fly from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires in relative comfort and style, maybe look at aircraft such as the 777 and A340. If there are also routes that require long over-water stretches, then you may want to consider the A340, an excellent efficiency aircraft. The 777 is slightly bigger and again has excellent efficiency. But you need to decide what aircraft you want.

If you have 250 passengers, you also have to decide if you want to have a big-small aircraft (a stretch of, say the 767 - IE the 767-400) or a small-big aircraft... (such as the A340-200.) A shrink of a larger airframe TENDS to have higher seat/mile costs than a stretched airframe. Another issue is commonality.

Cross-crew qualification (while not used in the US), and consistency in maintenance provide significant savings for airlines such as USAirways. For example you may choose to have the A319/A320/A321 to cover all your short haul routes, and the 767-400/777-200/777-300 for long-haul routes. Or you may prefer the A340-200/-300 to compliment the A320 series. This is up to you.

Hope this is of some help to you. Bear in mind that I, like you, are a total amateur at designing airlines - I just do it for fun. By trade (apart from being a musician) in four years I should be a pilot. Hopefully!


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RE: So, I Want To Start An Airline

Tue Sep 12, 2000 9:03 pm

I just finished reading two great books on this subject, which I would HIGHLY recommend you reading. One is "From Worst To First" by Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune. The other is "NUTS!" by the Friebergs. This tells the story of Southwest airlines. I too am aspiring to enter the airline industry, and found these two titles invaluable. Enjoy!


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