How does an airline decide on the viability of a potential new route?
I've been reading the forum for a little while now and have done some searches, but I don't think I have all the pieces of the puzzle yet.
I would think they will start with O&D. But do airliners share this information with one another?
Let's use a completely hypothetical scenario. Let's say SA is looking at a new JNB-AKL direct, non-stop flight. They would probably think that there are many ex-South Africans living in New Zealand and up to now New Zealand is still visa-free for South Africans, which makes things a lot easier and they have seen that introducing new visa regulations have a negative impact on numbers (e.g. CPT-LHR being cancelled a while ago).
Passengers currently flying this route have several choices of airliners, all with connections - EK, SQ, QF etc. If those airlines don't belong to the same program as SA, does SA have access to these records? I'm assuming that within Star Alliance or other programs, information is shared more freely?
I'm sure there is a percentage of people who doesn't know they want to fly to AKL direct, until the opportunity exists. How are they being accounted for. I'm sure airlines don't walk around on the the street asking people what new routes they would like to see?
Do airliners take passengers seriously? Let's say I contact the airline via social media and tell them I would really like to fly to AKL direct. Would they actually pay attention?
I know there are plenty other variables to take into account. Slots, aircraft type etc. etc. I think I'm more asking how an airline would gauge the number of passengers that would potentially be interested, before such a route ever existed.
Is Star Alliance in the position to make recommendations to airliners? Can they approach SA or NZ and tell them that they see an opportunity?
What other research might an airline engage in?