Transfer traffic can be one of two ways totally key to getting passengers on seats and not diluting yields too much on the main (long haul) service.
The premise that there will be approximately the same number of passengers on a given daily flight for each weekday Monday through Friday is a most unlikely one. And no airline can afford to have a spare fleet of smaller and larger aircraft to better match likely seat demand to passenger carrying capacity to use only on those days where demand is lower or higher than average..
If an airline has little feed the most obvious way to fill the seats on days when demand is low is to use price to smooth demand so it will more closely match the available carrying capacity. This has the unfortunate effect of reducing yields on most if not all tickets on days of low total demand.
As soon as an airline has the opportunity of creating its own feed from A onto a flight from B to C it can adopt an alternative, more profitable strategy. It can use the pricing mechanism for tickets sold for travel from A to C to increase loads on the B to C flight without impacting yields on the tickets sold on the core B to C flight. Of course all or nearly all tickets now sold for the B to C flight to passengers originating in A are likely to be incremental to those that would be sold without the feeder flight. So the lower price for tickets sold for A to C travel on selected days in no way impact yields.
The benefit to Joe Public of this type of arrangement is that even if he or she is an O & D passenger between two major hubs it is often possible to save a significant amount by booking a two leg flight instead.
There is a second way of achieving the same result where an airline has no feed into airport B. This is to offer reduced fares on their web site or sites in a neighbouring country effectively requiring the fare-conscious passenger to book a connecting flight between A and B on another airline to take advantage of the low price offered to fly between B and C.
This second approach is not open to an airline (like VS
) that does not operate into a country close to airport B as it is either unlikely to have a local web site in that country or, if it does, potential passengers will not think to check it out.
Both of these strategies are regarded by the British media as being rip-offs. Here, for example, is an article on the second of these approaches:
The first method has not recently been widely discussed in the media. However around 12or 14 years ago (if memory serves me correctly) even the British government joined the "rip-off" chorus after the Times newspaper discovered that tickets for a CDG
ticket on BA
were cheaper than a LHR
ticket on exactly the same flight. It is simply not appreciated by the media that the availability of these bargain offers puts bums on what would otherwise be empty seats and that in doing so these sales contribute to keeping all prices lower than they otherwise would be.