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PHLspecial
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Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Fri Apr 09, 2021 3:55 pm

Can any airline make profit for such short routes?
 
davidjohnson6
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Fri Apr 09, 2021 3:57 pm

If it involves crossing a big chunk of water - eg flight from mainland to island - then it definitely can be profitable. Alternatively, consider cases where the regional terrain is very mountainous and the construction of long tunnels is cost prohibitive
Regions with extreme weather often rely on air transport - eg in the Arctic in winter

Wealthy countries often have Govt subsidy schemes to encourage air transport to remote locations where road transport would be difficult
 
PlymSpotter
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:03 pm

No, not any airline can.

But an airline with a business model that allows them to operate short routes (for geographical or other reasons) can do. I have hundreds of commercial flights in my log that are under 100 miles, not all of them involving crossing water.
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classicjets
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Sat Apr 10, 2021 2:38 am

Many such routes are used to bring connecting passengers to an airline's hub and fill other, longer flights from there - making those routes and the hub itself profitable. That's why it can be hard to observe whether a single route is profitable on its own. Generally, if the route was unprofitable the airline would stop flying it unless there are political reasons or it's needed to keep a larger, otherwise profitable, corporate contract.
 
PHLspecial
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Sat Apr 10, 2021 5:15 pm

classicjets wrote:
Many such routes are used to bring connecting passengers to an airline's hub and fill other, longer flights from there - making those routes and the hub itself profitable. That's why it can be hard to observe whether a single route is profitable on its own. Generally, if the route was unprofitable the airline would stop flying it unless there are political reasons or it's needed to keep a larger, otherwise profitable, corporate contract.

I feel like in the Northeast regional flights under 100 miles is just annoying when you can drive or take a train to a longer airport.
 
CairnterriAIR
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Sat Apr 10, 2021 8:32 pm

When geography, lack of alternate infrastructure is available, or a huge commuter business between two large metropolitan areas are factors, then yes they can be profitable.

*Geography....Hawaiian islands...very short flights, lots of cargo, daily commuter traffic, and tourists...same can be said for flights in the Carribean.

*Lack of alternate transportation options...no roads or trains....perfect examples are short stage flights in Canada, Greenland, and Alaska. Cargo, passengers, monopoly on the route where the airline can charge a premium fare because people have to be somewhere and are willing to pay it. At the same time the carrier’s costs are low which allow a lower load factor in order to break even.

*Flights between two major cities in close proximity where there is a lot of local commuter traffic. Boston/NYC shuttle flights as well as California.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Sun Apr 11, 2021 12:21 am

CairnterriAIR wrote:
*Flights between two major cities in close proximity where there is a lot of local commuter traffic. Boston/NYC shuttle flights as well as California.


But again, this can only work if there's no viable alternative available.

The US, even in it's most dense populated areas such as the Boston / New York / Philadelphia / Baltimore / Washington DC area, severely lacks of good rail connections. That's why people fly such distances. In Europe on the other hand rail connections are much better and flights over short distances are actively discouraged. The ones that do exist are exclusively for feeder purposes, to get from one city to another the train is much faster and cheaper. And as most airports have direct access to the railway networks (railway station at the airport with trains in all possible directions), even feeder flights are more and more replaced by trains.

I'm pretty sure if there was a high speed railway line between Boston and New York, most people would take the train instead of a plane. It'd be almost as fast, if not faster. They only fly because there is no train.
 
IADCA
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Sun Apr 11, 2021 12:39 am

PatrickZ80 wrote:
CairnterriAIR wrote:
*Flights between two major cities in close proximity where there is a lot of local commuter traffic. Boston/NYC shuttle flights as well as California.


But again, this can only work if there's no viable alternative available.

The US, even in it's most dense populated areas such as the Boston / New York / Philadelphia / Baltimore / Washington DC area, severely lacks of good rail connections. That's why people fly such distances. In Europe on the other hand rail connections are much better and flights over short distances are actively discouraged. The ones that do exist are exclusively for feeder purposes, to get from one city to another the train is much faster and cheaper. And as most airports have direct access to the railway networks (railway station at the airport with trains in all possible directions), even feeder flights are more and more replaced by trains.

I'm pretty sure if there was a high speed railway line between Boston and New York, most people would take the train instead of a plane. It'd be almost as fast, if not faster. They only fly because there is no train.


Uh, a lot of people do take trains between DC and New York and New York and Boston. Between DC and New York, it's about 75%, which is why the DCA-LGA shuttles have gone from 727s every half hour to regional jets with much less frequency. Granted, the infrastructure could be better and the trains could be cheaper, but that's basically the one area of the United States where trains do beat flying.
 
Elgorou
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:39 am

Not exactly 100 miles, but near are SCL-MDZ (106 mi) and AEP-MVD (119 mi) as example profitables routes, but both involve complex flow over the Andes and rio de la Plata.
 
PHLspecial
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Mon Apr 12, 2021 3:47 pm

Elgorou wrote:
Not exactly 100 miles, but near are SCL-MDZ (106 mi) and AEP-MVD (119 mi) as example profitables routes, but both involve complex flow over the Andes and rio de la Plata.

Well that makes sense, when I asked my question, it was flights for airports not surround by mountains or bodies of water.
 
Cubsrule
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:16 pm

PHLspecial wrote:
Elgorou wrote:
Not exactly 100 miles, but near are SCL-MDZ (106 mi) and AEP-MVD (119 mi) as example profitables routes, but both involve complex flow over the Andes and rio de la Plata.

Well that makes sense, when I asked my question, it was flights for airports not surround by mountains or bodies of water.


Is your question about profit on a segment basis? I doubt any short flight not over mountains or water is profitable on a segment basis because the pro-rate to short flights is so low.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
DTWLAX
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:24 am

PHLspecial wrote:
I feel like in the Northeast regional flights under 100 miles is just annoying when you can drive or take a train to a longer airport.

Which Northeast regional flights are under 100 miles?
 
DTWLAX
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:29 am

CairnterriAIR wrote:
*Flights between two major cities in close proximity where there is a lot of local commuter traffic. Boston/NYC shuttle flights as well as California.

BOS-NYC is over a 100 miles and can take 4 hours to drive, so it makes sense to fly if the train is not an option.
I think the only route within 100 miles in California that has air service is Bay area and Sacramento.
 
PHLspecial
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:42 am

DTWLAX wrote:
PHLspecial wrote:
I feel like in the Northeast regional flights under 100 miles is just annoying when you can drive or take a train to a longer airport.

Which Northeast regional flights are under 100 miles?

PHL- MDT, BWI, LGA, JFK, DCA, ABE. DCA is a stretch
I would think that BWI, LGA, JFK is not coming back for a long time to come if ever again
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:31 am

DTWLAX wrote:
CairnterriAIR wrote:
*Flights between two major cities in close proximity where there is a lot of local commuter traffic. Boston/NYC shuttle flights as well as California.

BOS-NYC is over a 100 miles and can take 4 hours to drive, so it makes sense to fly if the train is not an option.
I think the only route within 100 miles in California that has air service is Bay area and Sacramento.


Time out going to the airport, security, waiting, potential delays and then the same stuff at the other end—4 hour drive is quicker. I love flying, but if it’s travel, it’s about quickest.
 
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eta unknown
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:09 am

PatrickZ80 wrote:
CairnterriAIR wrote:
*Flights between two major cities in close proximity where there is a lot of local commuter traffic. Boston/NYC shuttle flights as well as California.


But again, this can only work if there's no viable alternative available.

The US, even in it's most dense populated areas such as the Boston / New York / Philadelphia / Baltimore / Washington DC area, severely lacks of good rail connections. That's why people fly such distances. In Europe on the other hand rail connections are much better and flights over short distances are actively discouraged. The ones that do exist are exclusively for feeder purposes, to get from one city to another the train is much faster and cheaper. And as most airports have direct access to the railway networks (railway station at the airport with trains in all possible directions), even feeder flights are more and more replaced by trains.

I'm pretty sure if there was a high speed railway line between Boston and New York, most people would take the train instead of a plane. It'd be almost as fast, if not faster. They only fly because there is no train.

The word you're looking for is "Acela"
 
Weatherwatcher1
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Wed Apr 14, 2021 1:22 pm

I assume JetBlue earns money flying Boston to Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard every summer. Those are some of the shortest routes that I can think of that target O/D.

Interestingly enough JetBlue is competing against Cape Air Cessna 402s that they also codeshare with. Cape Air’s Cessna flights have a shorter block time than the jets. Who would fly a Cessna 402 over an Embraer 190?
 
jplatts
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Wed Apr 14, 2021 4:59 pm

PHLspecial wrote:
PHL- MDT, BWI, LGA, JFK, DCA, ABE. DCA is a stretch
I would think that BWI, LGA, JFK is not coming back for a long time to come if ever again


I agree that AA re-adding PHL-BWI/LGA/JFK is unlikely to happen anytime soon, especially as most of the passengers on AA's PHL-BWI/LGA/JFK flights were connecting passengers who have other options out of PHL, DCA, BWI, LGA, or JFK to their final destination on AA or its codeshare partners.

BA still has nonstop service to LHR from IAD, PHL, and JFK, and BA also still offers connections to other destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa from its U.S. destinations through its LHR hub.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:25 pm

Weatherwatcher1 wrote:
I assume JetBlue earns money flying Boston to Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard every summer. Those are some of the shortest routes that I can think of that target O/D.

Interestingly enough JetBlue is competing against Cape Air Cessna 402s that they also codeshare with. Cape Air’s Cessna flights have a shorter block time than the jets. Who would fly a Cessna 402 over an Embraer 190?


But those are islands, which is the main reason those flights work. The reason they fly to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard but not to Barnstable for example is that Barnstable is on the mainland, you can drive there. To get to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard you'd have to take a ferry, in which case some people rather fly.

Speaking of that, there is something similar in Europe. OFD (Ostfriesischer Luft Dienst) is a German airline that flies between the German mainland and the Wadden islands just offshore. Their main base is Emden, just in Germany near the Netherlands. The distance is nearly nothing, however the alternative is the ferry and flying is a great way to get to the islands. Their flagship is the BN-2 Islander, which certainly honors it's name.
 
Weatherwatcher1
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:52 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:
Weatherwatcher1 wrote:
I assume JetBlue earns money flying Boston to Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard every summer. Those are some of the shortest routes that I can think of that target O/D.

Interestingly enough JetBlue is competing against Cape Air Cessna 402s that they also codeshare with. Cape Air’s Cessna flights have a shorter block time than the jets. Who would fly a Cessna 402 over an Embraer 190?


But those are islands, which is the main reason those flights work. The reason they fly to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard but not to Barnstable for example is that Barnstable is on the mainland, you can drive there. To get to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard you'd have to take a ferry, in which case some people rather fly.

Speaking of that, there is something similar in Europe. OFD (Ostfriesischer Luft Dienst) is a German airline that flies between the German mainland and the Wadden islands just offshore. Their main base is Emden, just in Germany near the Netherlands. The distance is nearly nothing, however the alternative is the ferry and flying is a great way to get to the islands. Their flagship is the BN-2 Islander, which certainly honors it's name.


Similarly In the pre COVID era there were flights between Seattle and Victoria on Alaska (Horizon) on Q400s, floatplanes on Kenmore Air (Beavers and Otters) and a ferry.
 
jplatts
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Thu Apr 15, 2021 2:32 pm

While the great circle distance of SEA-PDX is only 129 miles, SEA-PDX had a significant amount of O&D passengers per day for a route that short prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with the SEA-PDX PDEW being 401 passengers per day in 2019.

There are reasons why SEA-PDX had a significantly higher than normal PDEW for a route that short within the contiguous U.S. prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, including
(a) Tacoma and Olympia being located in between Seattle and Portland,
(b) the longer driving distance between Seattle and Portland, with Downtown Seattle being 173 miles from Downtown Portland,
(c) those driving between Seattle and Portland having to deal with traffic in the Tacoma area and the southern suburbs of Seattle, and
(d) SEA-PDX having significantly higher frequencies than many other similar in length nonstop routes to AA/DL/UA/AS hubs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

BOS-ACK had higher PDEW's than any nonstop route within the contiguous U.S. that is under 100 miles in Q3 2019, with the PDEW of BOS-ACK being 47 passengers/day in Q3 2019. The main reason why BOS-ACK had higher PDEW's than any route that short in Q3 2019 is that ACK is located on Nantucket Island, even though there is ferry access to Nantucket Island from Hyannis on the mainland.

Another reason why BOS-ACK had higher PDEW's is that the drive to Hyannis from the City of Boston, Logan International Airport, or the northern suburbs of Boston involves dealing with traffic in the southern suburbs of Boston, along with the fact that taking a vehicle across to Nantucket from Hyannis requires taking the traditional ferry that takes 2 hours 15 minutes and that operates less frequently than the high-speed ferry.
 
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HowardDGA
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Thu Apr 15, 2021 10:03 pm

LAX-PSP
LAX-SAN (slightly over 100 miles, though?)
 
DTWLAX
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:25 am

HowardDGA wrote:
LAX-PSP
LAX-SAN (slightly over 100 miles, though?)

Both slightly over 100 miles
http://www.gcmap.com/dist?P=LAX-PSP%0D% ... SG=&SU=mph
 
alan3
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:26 pm

I always thought it was about connection traffic.

For example, both AA and UA fly from Milwaukee to Chicago. Certainly under 100 miles.

If you live in Milwaukee and are visiting your mom in Chicago is it worth it? Driving to the airport, parking, shuttle to airport, line up for security, waiting, boarding, taxiing, lining up again to get off plane, walking to arrivals, waiting for a cab? Probably not.

But if you want to fly from Milwaukee to Paris or Tokyo or Austin? Presumably there is value and profit for AA and UA to sell those segment legs for that reason.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Sat Apr 17, 2021 11:31 pm

alan3 wrote:
I always thought it was about connection traffic.

For example, both AA and UA fly from Milwaukee to Chicago. Certainly under 100 miles.

If you live in Milwaukee and are visiting your mom in Chicago is it worth it? Driving to the airport, parking, shuttle to airport, line up for security, waiting, boarding, taxiing, lining up again to get off plane, walking to arrivals, waiting for a cab? Probably not.

But if you want to fly from Milwaukee to Paris or Tokyo or Austin? Presumably there is value and profit for AA and UA to sell those segment legs for that reason.


Couldn't they just put a bus on that route instead of flying it? I mean, O'Hare Airport is straight on the highway to Milwaukee. How long would it take that bus? According to Google Maps it's just over an hour drive, taking traffic into consideration it'd be an hour and a half.

Here in the Netherlands KLM serves the airports of Eindhoven and Maastricht that way. Eindhoven to Amsterdam is a similar distance as Milwaukee to Chicago, even a bit further. KLM doesn't fly from Amsterdam to Eindhoven, they put a bus on this route. These buses have flight numbers on them and can be booked as if they were flights, you can book a ticket Eindhoven - Amsterdam - New York on KLM where Eindhoven - Amsterdam is operated by bus.
 
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Lingon
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Sun Apr 18, 2021 1:02 pm

I believe Amsterdam - Brussels is about 100 miles and there are flights as well as good train connections and good roads. I don't know what kind of passengers they get, but I would dare a guess it is mainly for connecting traffic.
Personally if I went to Brussels via Amsterdam, I would opt for the train unless I had a lot of baggage.
 
alan3
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:35 am

PatrickZ80 wrote:
alan3 wrote:
I always thought it was about connection traffic.

For example, both AA and UA fly from Milwaukee to Chicago. Certainly under 100 miles.

If you live in Milwaukee and are visiting your mom in Chicago is it worth it? Driving to the airport, parking, shuttle to airport, line up for security, waiting, boarding, taxiing, lining up again to get off plane, walking to arrivals, waiting for a cab? Probably not.

But if you want to fly from Milwaukee to Paris or Tokyo or Austin? Presumably there is value and profit for AA and UA to sell those segment legs for that reason.


Couldn't they just put a bus on that route instead of flying it? I mean, O'Hare Airport is straight on the highway to Milwaukee. How long would it take that bus? According to Google Maps it's just over an hour drive, taking traffic into consideration it'd be an hour and a half.

Here in the Netherlands KLM serves the airports of Eindhoven and Maastricht that way. Eindhoven to Amsterdam is a similar distance as Milwaukee to Chicago, even a bit further. KLM doesn't fly from Amsterdam to Eindhoven, they put a bus on this route. These buses have flight numbers on them and can be booked as if they were flights, you can book a ticket Eindhoven - Amsterdam - New York on KLM where Eindhoven - Amsterdam is operated by bus.


I suppose they could, but I don’t think airlines outside of Europe really do that? If you are connecting flights, I’m not sure sitting in traffic on a bus for 1.5 hours is better than flying for 25 minutes. And if your first flight is from the smaller airport, you are checking in at the smaller airport not the larger one, meaning shorter lines, fewer people, cheaper parking, etc. So it’s probably appealing.
 
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AirKevin
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Mon Apr 19, 2021 7:18 pm

alan3 wrote:
PatrickZ80 wrote:
alan3 wrote:
I always thought it was about connection traffic.

For example, both AA and UA fly from Milwaukee to Chicago. Certainly under 100 miles.

If you live in Milwaukee and are visiting your mom in Chicago is it worth it? Driving to the airport, parking, shuttle to airport, line up for security, waiting, boarding, taxiing, lining up again to get off plane, walking to arrivals, waiting for a cab? Probably not.

But if you want to fly from Milwaukee to Paris or Tokyo or Austin? Presumably there is value and profit for AA and UA to sell those segment legs for that reason.


Couldn't they just put a bus on that route instead of flying it? I mean, O'Hare Airport is straight on the highway to Milwaukee. How long would it take that bus? According to Google Maps it's just over an hour drive, taking traffic into consideration it'd be an hour and a half.

Here in the Netherlands KLM serves the airports of Eindhoven and Maastricht that way. Eindhoven to Amsterdam is a similar distance as Milwaukee to Chicago, even a bit further. KLM doesn't fly from Amsterdam to Eindhoven, they put a bus on this route. These buses have flight numbers on them and can be booked as if they were flights, you can book a ticket Eindhoven - Amsterdam - New York on KLM where Eindhoven - Amsterdam is operated by bus.


I suppose they could, but I don’t think airlines outside of Europe really do that? If you are connecting flights, I’m not sure sitting in traffic on a bus for 1.5 hours is better than flying for 25 minutes. And if your first flight is from the smaller airport, you are checking in at the smaller airport not the larger one, meaning shorter lines, fewer people, cheaper parking, etc. So it’s probably appealing.

Just for giggles, I had a look, looks like United 6383 and 6384 from ABE to EWR are both operated by bus, as is United 6381 and 6382 going the other way. Though I wonder what happens if there's a major accident on I-78 that shuts the highway down, then what do they do.
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jumpjets
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:16 am

I guess we should mention the Loganair Scottish island routes, especially Westray - Papa Westray. Whether it is profitable or not I cannot say but at 2 miles long that segment is well under your 100 mile threshold.
 
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hongkongflyer
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:58 am

AirKevin wrote:
alan3 wrote:
PatrickZ80 wrote:

Couldn't they just put a bus on that route instead of flying it? I mean, O'Hare Airport is straight on the highway to Milwaukee. How long would it take that bus? According to Google Maps it's just over an hour drive, taking traffic into consideration it'd be an hour and a half.

Here in the Netherlands KLM serves the airports of Eindhoven and Maastricht that way. Eindhoven to Amsterdam is a similar distance as Milwaukee to Chicago, even a bit further. KLM doesn't fly from Amsterdam to Eindhoven, they put a bus on this route. These buses have flight numbers on them and can be booked as if they were flights, you can book a ticket Eindhoven - Amsterdam - New York on KLM where Eindhoven - Amsterdam is operated by bus.


I suppose they could, but I don’t think airlines outside of Europe really do that? If you are connecting flights, I’m not sure sitting in traffic on a bus for 1.5 hours is better than flying for 25 minutes. And if your first flight is from the smaller airport, you are checking in at the smaller airport not the larger one, meaning shorter lines, fewer people, cheaper parking, etc. So it’s probably appealing.

Just for giggles, I had a look, looks like United 6383 and 6384 from ABE to EWR are both operated by bus, as is United 6381 and 6382 going the other way. Though I wonder what happens if there's a major accident on I-78 that shuts the highway down, then what do they do.


They will protect you to next available flight, similar to the misconnected flight because of the delay of the 1st leg.
 
sprxUSA
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Wed Apr 28, 2021 2:54 am

Well depends on what you charge and if pax show up. True for any length flight.....
Gem State Airlines..."we have a gem of an airline"
 
jplatts
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Re: Are flights under 100 miles profitable?

Sun May 02, 2021 7:35 pm

M5 (Kenmore Air) operates some seaplane routes from LKE and KEH to the San Juan Islands that are under 100 miles, but M5's flights out of LKE/KEH are operated using planes that have 10 or fewer seats.

M5 has also been around for 75 years.

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