The risk of being held hostage to one model, one company or one externality is so high that in retrospect it is appalling that big airlines like SW, FR, FZ, U2 still confuse simple with simplistic maths, business is never that simple. With such fleet sizes, diversification is marginally more expensive, it's even a sound insurance policy B6 now has, way cheaper than having part of one's fleet grounded or one's growth stunted.
No it's not. There is a reason that virtually every LCC has gone to a single type. Groundings are (thankfully) increadibly rare. Even if WN had half A320's and half 737's, they would still be totally screwed if one was grounded.
Financially, as I stated, it makes sense to have one fleet, agreed.
I also mentionned large companies, where having a split fleet doesn't tickle their finances.
The problem is to internalize risk
when bad luck strikes, when the plague sweeps all the company's fleet to the ground.
Has happened, what, about 4 or 5 times in the century ? Those that I remember grounded : Comet, Tu-144, 737, 787, may be others, but all in all so negligeable that it is overlooked. Just like when the Tsunami swept across south east Asia in 2004, people knew it could happen, last time had been over a century ago so they decided they wouldn't internalize it, not in my back yard. And then hell broke out.
That is when it affects you, it's negligeable no more.
It is not because everyone forgets about it, that it is right. Some things could have been done. Most large companies have split fleets, actually due to availability & political considerations, but in the end that also serves to mitigate risks.
Relying on one model can kill you, specially with Boeing that is collecting these days an astounding number of blunders & problems. For instance, quality problems have been rampant in the last decade, there is a thread here on problematic 787s, pannels falling off, there's also a good Al-Jazeera documentary on Boeing, shot on site, should still be on youtube - pathetic. I am one of those who makes sure I never fly a 737, prefer E-jets or 320s, roomier. With the grounding, I now make sure to tell friends to MAX all 737s, as most cannot distinguish an NG, a max7, 8, 9 or 10. So I keep it simple, a simple rule to save perhaps a life.
You are right in that with a split fleet, you are still "screwed" to the ground.
But only hemiplegic, still alive.
My guess, and I mean it, just a guess, is SW wants to diversify for that reason & never be paraplegic : they can afford it.
There is a wide pool of A320 & 737 out there, so leasing some is not a problem, but just how many would be available in the next 6-12 months ? I don't know.
Because I remember JL CEO stating that their airline could not rely on a sole OEM, because I remember how that ended with JL ordering Airbus, this msg from SW has a particular ring. Naturally, SW is a different animal than JL, different business model, but they are healthy & way larger : they can afford whatever they want to ensure they stay sound & stolid.
Last edited by DWC
on Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.