Follow your own Sheep, Airline Style

You do wonder what sort of credentials you need to run an Airline, it is very difficult, in fact it is one of the worse sort of businesses to do business, there are so many factors in the fact that can send you broke on a weekly basis, some can be the changeable climate of the traveling public, others are anything from hijackings to tsunamis, fuel shortages, volcanos, snow, pilot and ground staff strikes, computer catastrophic failures, bad press, engine explosions or the worse of all, the loss of aircraft, passengers and crew.

Airlines as a whole don’t make money, losing it is easy, making it is very difficult, so why do you want to be in this business, because it is glamorous, well maybe yes to a point, some call it the “bus service in the air”, which is a fair comment in todays highly regulated on time service environment, but there is something in that fact as flying is a still a wonderous thing to do even for people who hate it, nothing is more amazing than the fact you can circle half the globe and land within minutes of the scheduled timetable, and within the hours of a 24hour day, Sydney to London, in the time of only one day of your life, and for only $2000.00 is in anyone’s terms  a great deal.

With all these issues to face everyday you would want to minimize your losses by selecting routes that are profitable and useable, but there is a strange fact that sometimes in doing this, all reason goes out of the window, take for instance New Zealand.

Now New Zealand is a pretty country that is somewhere in the low South Pacific Ocean and at last count there was 4,315,800 people residing there, and of that  1,110, 456 of them visited Australia, and from Australia they have in the fact that 1,115,285 of them then returned the favour by going over there.

So that would seem like a pretty big market, plenty for everyone to have a slice of the travelling cake, however if you are in an airline management position this would seem to be a rainbow gold mine just waiting to be dug.

It is but a strange thing happened, for such a small country airlines have been swapping and changing around to the point that it is a lottery to seem which one will be ready for you at the airport when you get there!

Almost all have been non New Zealand Airlines and mostly come from big brother Australia, long forgotten Ansett ruled the roost for years with a massive 30% share of the cake, then Qantas in some form or the other took over the debris when the airline was grounded in 2001 and being renamed Qantas New Zealand, in 2003 Qantas created their successful LCC (low Cost Carrier) offshoot Jetstar which commenced New Zealand operations on the 1 December 2005  to Christchuch (CHC) and on the 10 June 2009 Jetstar commenced domestic New Zealand flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

New Zealand has it’s own national airline called Air New Zealand which by all cases in the last decade has been a total basketcase, New Zealand as a market that is so very small for a large legacy carrier that has 6 Boeing 747-400’s always parked under the window, but under the stewardship of Rob Fyfe who was appointed in 2005 the airline has become the one to watch and now covers 27 domestic destinations and 26 international destinations, making money in a creative way which much like Singapore Airlines in Singapore, and in doing so out go the big thirsty B747’s and in come B777’s which are more suited to long thin routes, in other words good management.

Another upstart that tasted the New Zealand gold rush is Virgin Blue, based in Brisbane (BNE) , started in 2000, it had the good fortune in that Ansett dissolved right in front of them and created a market almost overnight, a LCC that was on the hunt soon dominated the Australian low-cost market and in 2003 a subsidiary of Virgin blue, Pacific Blue was heading over the Tasman Sea wanting some of the ready cash.

But in most cases you always found yourself on a Virgin Blue aircraft as the fleet was rotated around to cover the only few Pacific Blue Boeing 737’s flying, and Virgin then thought “well we are over there so why don’t we do domestic New Zealand as well”, well why not, it’s a free world.

So if you wanted a flight from Aussieland to Kiwi Land, then the choice is large, Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue and not forgetting Air New Zealand, now on top of all that it is because New Zealand is where it is then most international carriers will terminate their service in either Auckland (AKL) or Christchurch (CHC), and in most case many have 5th freedoms of the air rights, which means that “they have the right to fly between two foreign countries during flights while the flight originates or ends in one’s own country”, so you can sway your way down to Sydney Airport, drop $210.00 into a Emirates passenger ticket and then rumble right along and taste the space and giantness of their double decker bus, the A380, well they are getting 90 of them so why not drop a few on the Trans Tasman route and pick a few shekels moving Australia to New Zealand or vice- versa, 460 seats is a lot to fill, Melbourne’s the same, In Brisbane you can jump on a Singapore Airlines Jet and swan over in style, and not on a cramped B737 or Airbus A320.

If there is then a saturated market it is New Zealand, with only two major ports (AKL/CHC), and as sheep following sheep its getting seriously crowded parking in Auckland with empty planes, so what happens, they lose mountains of money, and it becomes a poker game of who will hold out till the last, all of them holding their breath, fares go to bucket levels, almost coming down to stealing passengers at airports trying to board the competition, and it goes on for years, upping the frequency or adding even more ports (Gold Coast, Cairns) to get a leg over the others…..

So who gave up first…..Virgin Blue/Pacific Blue, “what the hell it’s not worth it”, so they decided that we will put our precious resources somewhere else…and that is?

Perth (PER), the resource boom of shipping the whole of Western Australia to either China or Japan is in full swing and a market just waiting to be exploited, did they learn from losing all that cash in New Zealand, “hell no”, as “thar’s gold in those W.A. Hills”

Virgin Blue decided to ship people over to W.A. wholesale, by buying a couple of large Airbus A330’s and going business class too.

Qantas not to be out done looks around and realises that Jetstar has few loose A332’s available and  so puts them on the same route, Jetstar meanwhile is a regular customer at Perth, so is Singapore  Airlines offshoot Tiger (one Dollar seats) Airlines, Strategic Airlines is also based there, Skywest too, in fact there is 12 domestic airlines based in Perth, and how many people live there?

1,659,000, less than New Zealand, in fact far less than New Zealand, oh and there are a few 5th Rights Carriers passing through there too, suicide!

And on it goes, Sheep following Sheep, Perth has not even been on the map for decades, if you wanted to fly there it cost less to fly to Hong Kong, Japan even, in fact the cheapest way was to fly to Singapore and backtrack to Perth, those were the days, going international to fly to a domestic port?

Soon it will be dollar dazzlers, free meals, face painting to fill empty seats…Suicide.

So here we go, which one will pull out first, Qantas, Nah!, Jetstar, Nah!, Virgin Blue, Nah! too much at stake, Tiger..well maybe but their numbers are low anyway.

So it’s going to be a blood bath, and coming to an airport near you.

Say, there is a good traffic going down to Antarctica, could be on a winner there, seasonal is the only problem, “could you land an Airbus A330 on the ice?”

Sheep following Sheep, Oh by the way Tiger Airlines are going to do a new route……going over the Tasman to New Zealand….

……”oh for Christ’s sake”

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