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tkoenig95
Topic Author
Posts: 313
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:39 pm

WN Aircraft Utilization

Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:55 pm

Southwest Airlines is among a few companies in the world who maximize utilization in all of their fleet by flying their aircraft as often and frequent as possible. For maintaining such great use, why are their aircraft types so inconsistent? For instance, WN 340 LAX-CUN sees a mix of the 737, 738 and 7M8. For such a long and thin route why not stick with one aircraft type? This is also noticeable on a majority of routes as well.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA340
 
ericm2031
Posts: 1395
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:46 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:11 pm

They probably put the plane that matches demand best. I’ve heard if they see routes filling up a couple weeks out and it’s a -700, they’ll swap things around to upgauge it to maximize revenue. Since their crews can fly all of their planes, they have a ton ornaments flexibility.
 
32andBelow
Posts: 4933
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:54 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:14 pm

tkoenig95 wrote:
Southwest Airlines is among a few companies in the world who maximize utilization in all of their fleet by flying their aircraft as often and frequent as possible. For maintaining such great use, why are their aircraft types so inconsistent? For instance, WN 340 LAX-CUN sees a mix of the 737, 738 and 7M8. For such a long and thin route why not stick with one aircraft type? This is also noticeable on a majority of routes as well.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA340

Why though? They don’t assign seats. If they have a full 700 scheduled and a half full 800 at the same time why not equip swap? It’s basic revenue management.
 
Jshank83
Posts: 3501
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:23 pm

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:19 pm

-800s and the MAX8 have the exact same seating chart so those they switch around a lot. It doesn't really make any difference which one they fly on the route since the are the same seating config. I don't see them switch 700 to -800/MAX as often.
 
zakuivcustom
Posts: 3520
Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:32 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:27 pm

Looking at the OP's example. The 73G only shows up on Saturdays anyway. Makes sense as the schedule (and demand) is different on Saturday (and Sunday to certain extent) to begin with.

Like other said, 738 and 7M8's are interchangable in WN's network for the most part anyway. AFAIK they don't have a route that require the additional range that 7M8 offer.

Lastly, plane utilization - pretty sure WN just use whatever that's available at times, especially out of large stations like LAX, just so they don't have to rotate, let say, a 738/7M8 in on purpose from an outstation.
 
Deltabravo1123
Posts: 266
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:32 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:27 pm

It makes sense and would be easy of course to do it with one leg at a time - like let's say a BWI-BNA leg isn't entirely full, so they downguage it from a 738 to a 73G to better utilize the 738. But unlike the majors, WN's planes don't normally turn around to go right back to the same airport it arrived from. So if the plane then flew BNA-TPA-BDL-MDW, and down the line all these later flights had many more booked passengers these legs could be negatively effected if they don't have enough capacity. I'm sure though that they would consider this too, in order to make sure that they don't compromise revenue.
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:42 pm

tkoenig95 wrote:
Southwest Airlines is among a few companies in the world who maximize utilization in all of their fleet by flying their aircraft as often and frequent as possible.


Spirit and JetBlue leave them in the shade in avg. block hours per day according to the MIT Airline Data Project. I didn't check foreign ULCC carriers.
 
CobaltScar
Posts: 723
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:30 pm

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:04 am

Thats what I was thinking, Southwest does not even fly redeyes. How can they be anywhere near the top of aircraft utilization.

Someone tell me the secret how Southwest makes so much money with such poor aircraft utilization, and such high labor compensation and no business/first class premium seating and tickets. I just don't get it.
 
avi8
Posts: 1180
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:36 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:15 am

Southwest runs about 7-8, if not more rotations per plane per day with the same aircraft type and a P2P route network. Please tell me how that doesn’t print money.
avi8
 
Rdh3e
Posts: 3624
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:09 pm

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:17 am

avi8 wrote:
Southwest runs about 7-8, if not more rotations per plane per day with the same aircraft type and a P2P route network. Please tell me how that doesn’t print money.

Closer to 5 actually.

http://web.mit.edu/airlinedata/www/2017 ... RCRAFT.htm
 
crj900lr
Posts: 482
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:44 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:06 am

In 2000 G4 had a 11.53 departure rate per aircraft? That can't be right, what kind of schedule would that be? American West? I must have missed this airlines operation between 1995 and 2005.
 
WN732
Posts: 771
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:49 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:25 am

Rdh3e wrote:
avi8 wrote:
Southwest runs about 7-8, if not more rotations per plane per day with the same aircraft type and a P2P route network. Please tell me how that doesn’t print money.

Closer to 5 actually.

http://web.mit.edu/airlinedata/www/2017 ... RCRAFT.htm


They fly a lot more transcon flights these days
 
ericm2031
Posts: 1395
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:46 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:34 am

CobaltScar wrote:
Thats what I was thinking, Southwest does not even fly redeyes. How can they be anywhere near the top of aircraft utilization.

Someone tell me the secret how Southwest makes so much money with such poor aircraft utilization, and such high labor compensation and no business/first class premium seating and tickets. I just don't get it.


I don't know if I would call it poor utilization as they still run their fleet very hard during the hours of the day that they operate. They also fly short stage lengths, which is hard on the engines and airframe.

With that being said, they print money on intra-CA/TX routes...whenever short haul travel is strong, WN does its best. And even though they have high compensation costs, overall they still have low costs and are very efficient.
 
OB1504
Posts: 3962
Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2004 5:10 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:02 am

crj900lr wrote:
In 2000 G4 had a 11.53 departure rate per aircraft? That can't be right, what kind of schedule would that be? American West? I must have missed this airlines operation between 1995 and 2005.


America West, no “N”. Hubs in CMH, LAS, and PHX, and they acquired US Airways in 2005. Their CEO now runs American Airlines.

 
crj900lr
Posts: 482
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:44 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:10 am

OB1504 wrote:
crj900lr wrote:
In 2000 G4 had a 11.53 departure rate per aircraft? That can't be right, what kind of schedule would that be? American West? I must have missed this airlines operation between 1995 and 2005.


America West, no “N”. Hubs in CMH, LAS, and PHX, and they acquired US Airways in 2005. Their CEO now runs American Airlines.



I know, I said it sarcastically, thanks for the info anyway.
 
N628AU
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2000 4:20 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:10 am

On a trip right now on WN booked a month out for a family of 5. BNA-MCO-BNA round trip. Was $3K. 175 seats on a B38M all full on the way out. Let’s say I was $50 more than average (was booked Wanna Get Away fare), and the average fare was $250 on that leg. Revenue on the trip works out to $43750 for a flight blocked under 2 hours and 1 hour 30 min flight time. Their revenue management is just fine.
 
Jshank83
Posts: 3501
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:23 pm

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:57 am

CobaltScar wrote:
Thats what I was thinking, Southwest does not even fly redeyes. How can they be anywhere near the top of aircraft utilization.

Someone tell me the secret how Southwest makes so much money with such poor aircraft utilization, and such high labor compensation and no business/first class premium seating and tickets. I just don't get it.


What percentage of legacy planes actually run a red eye? I figure it can’t be that many.

WN doesn’t have first class but it has more seats per same type plane, since it is all coach. I’m sure that makes up some. They sell up to 15 “business” tickets a flight. They can be 3x the price of wanna get away fares .
 
CobaltScar
Posts: 723
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:30 pm

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:02 pm

Who makes more money, in relation to their size, jetBlue or Southwest? If the answer is Southwest, then I want to know why. They compensate way more than jetBlue and they don't utilize their aircraft nearly as much as jetBlue. Who is to blame? Or what is the magic?
 
sccutler
Posts: 5839
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2000 12:16 pm

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:09 pm

CobaltScar wrote:
Who makes more money, in relation to their size, jetBlue or Southwest? If the answer is Southwest, then I want to know why. They compensate way more than jetBlue and they don't utilize their aircraft nearly as much as jetBlue. Who is to blame? Or what is the magic?


Efficiency.

Southwest has always compensated his people well, and has (in general) treated them with a degree of respect which encourages innovation and better service. As a result, for many, they become a preferred choice, most notably for business travel.

If they are flying tO places where they are not making money, they redeploy the resources where they WILL.

They are masterful at cutting needless expense, and minimizing unexpected expense. By way of illustration, Southwest maintains what are, arguably, the highest maintenance standards in the industry; reliability, safety, and profitability travel in the same bucket, in a well-managed program.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
 
flyguychi
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:43 pm

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:50 pm

CobaltScar wrote:
Who makes more money, in relation to their size, jetBlue or Southwest? If the answer is Southwest, then I want to know why. They compensate way more than jetBlue and they don't utilize their aircraft nearly as much as jetBlue. Who is to blame? Or what is the magic?


No need to translate by size:

Jetblue 2017
Operating Revenue per Available Seat Mile: 12.53 cents
Operating Expense per Available Seat Mile: 10.74 cents
Margin per Available Seat Mile: 1.79 cents

Southwest 2017
Operating Revenue per Available Seat Mile: 13.76 cents
Operating Expense per Available Seat Mile: 11.48 cents
Margin per Available Seat Mile: 2.28 cents

You can also break down by a few different metrics:

Jetblue 2017
Net Income per Passenger flown: $28.64
Net Income per Departure: $3,243
Net Income per aircraft: $4,912,205
Net Income per employee: $67,005


Southwest 2017
Net Income per Passenger flown: $26.77
Net Income per Departure: $2,587
Net Income per aircraft: $4,940,509
Net Income per employee: $62,163

I think all this really shows is that that it's hard to compare from airline to airline. In some metrics one is more profitable than the other. For example: Southwest makes less income per flight, but average flight duration is much less as well so they can pump out more flights per aircraft per day pushing income per aircraft higher than JB. (1909 flights per aircraft per year at SWA vs. 1514 at JB) All fun to look at though!
 
Dalmd88
Posts: 3139
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2000 3:19 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:53 pm

One thing about that utilization chart. The legacy carriers of AA, DL, and UL all have large international fleets that have low daily cycle counts. How about compare only domestic operations. I would bet the numbers are a lot closer.
 
2175301
Posts: 1861
Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 11:19 am

Re: WN Aircraft Utilization

Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:29 pm

CobaltScar wrote:
Who makes more money, in relation to their size, jetBlue or Southwest? If the answer is Southwest, then I want to know why. They compensate way more than jetBlue and they don't utilize their aircraft nearly as much as jetBlue. Who is to blame? Or what is the magic?


Better management. Southwest has a management team that understands that first they are in a people business, and all they have to do is manage the aircraft finances and take care of the people.

It appears to me that Jet Blue is more in the financial business, and have to also take reasonable care of its passengers. Bean-counters may be able to produce financial results for a while... but, they do not build a long term culture and following that Southwest has - which allows Southwest to charge higher fares.

There is more than one way to care for cat fur. Southwest prefers a healthy and well fed cat. Some other companies skin the cat and preserve the fur.

My personal guess: 5-7.5 years from now Jet Blue will not exist (someone will buy it as a financial asset). Southwest will still be thriving on its own.

Have a great day,

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