After playing both Airline and Airways sims, here are my impressions.
is a much more accessible and polished toy. It has a number of somewhat superficial features (which could be added to AL
) that make it mirror the running of a real airline pretty well. AL
is more difficult to use and much harder to get a good start at, but the core of the game's engine makes for a simulation that is overall, an order of magnitude more realistic.
For those who have not played either, both allow you to run an airline, procure aircraft, set up and price routes, and try to make a profit in a world populated by hundreds of other competing players. In AW
you select a base airport at the beginning of the game to start your airline at. All routes must be roundtrips from that base. You may set up additional bases as your airline reaches various milestones (#of aircraft, months in operation, etc.). There is a set number of passengers on each city pair (which grows throughout the game). In AL
you select a base, but all that really matters is your home country. You are free to set up any flights you want (real world traffic rights do apply to international flights). Passengers going between two cities can choose to take non stop options, make connections, or even fly to nearby airports and drive to their destination.
Both games have slots at airports, and both operate with a use it or loose it system. In AL
all you have to do is assign an aircraft to operate a flight, and you can get an available slot. In AW
you must buy slots before you can use them. These slots are non transferable, so changing your schedule by 5 minutes or changing aircraft types can cost you millions of dollars (which is ridiculous if you don't mind me saying so).
You must maintain your aircraft in both games, but how it is done is very different.
aircraft must under go weekly A checks, monthly B checks, annual C checks, and once every several years, an extensive (and expensive D check). A checks are scheduled into your weekly schedule, but the rest are superimposed on it, so that when the checks come up, the aircraft simply goes out of service and does not operate the flights. Checks are always performed in the aircraft's base.
each aircraft has a maintenance percentage. If this number fall below 50 it is unflyable. When making your weekly schedule any breaks over 2 hours are used to perform maintenance (no matter the location).
approach to commonality is rather ham-fisted: you may have up to 3 aircraft types without penalty. After that you pay a hefty surcharge on all MX
costs for each additional fleet type. AW
is more nuanced; each fleet type has certain costs associated with administration, training, and spares, and as a fleet grows you realize economies of scale.
you can (almost must) operate advertising campaigns to boost your airline's image. This is not currently an implemented feature in AL
Both games allow you to purchase or lease new or used aircraft.
New aircraft ordered from the manufacturer have a set rate of production in both games. In AL
this number is static and only works on a per player basis (even if there are 300 737 orders ahead of you, once you order you will begin receiving a new plane once every 12 hours). In AW
manufacturers increase and decrease production base on demand. AW
also has a slot system, so that order backlogs are global.
Used prices for aircraft in AL
are simple and based on the type and age of aircraft for sale. Only aircraft less than 3 years old are available for lease. You can buy, sell, and lease aircraft with other players, but the sim determines the price. In AW
the price of used aircraft on the open market is determined by how popular they are and how long they've been on the market, and individual can set their own selling and leasing rates (within a defined range).
Both sims allow you do take out loans to grow your business. The amount you can borrow and the rate at which you can borrow depends on your owned assets, the current interest rate, and your credit rating.
has a stock market, but their are no AI
investors and the anti cheating regulations make it almost worthless for everything except mergers and acquisitions.
Both games have an image rating for your airline that determines how desirable your brand is to potential passengers. In AL
your image is determined by the quality of soft and hard product that previous passengers have experienced. In AW
your company image is a product of marketing campaigns, reliability, and aircraft age and condition. AW
also has route image, which is chiefly determined by how long you have been serving a route.
Aircraft in the AL
world always depart on time. In AW
short turnarounds, random winter weather, unhappy or short staffed employees, and old or poorly maintained aircraft can cause delays or cancelations, which negatively affect your image.
has an alliance feature that takes a certain percent of your income in return for a modest increase in traffic. The alliance feature in AL
is purely cosmetic, but the interlining feature is very important. By interlining with other carriers you are able to expand your network without actually flying to all of the far flung corners of the globe. It also allows you to operate as a feeder or regional airline, sending passengers from small towns to connect in major hubs for a bigger partner.
Alright, I'm running out of steam. If anyone is actually reading this I'll finish off Staff, hard/soft product, game navigability, route setup, and the conclusion a little later.