Tag Archives: Air New Zealand

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”

Advertisements

How Long Can This Go On….Low Airfares

Sale Case

The losses are huge, big, enormous and it has hit every corner of the Travel Market and still it hurts, for the airlines it is Judgement day but for how long?

When Singapore Airlines are doing European specials you know life is bad, People will pay a premium to fly the smile high club so what hope is there for anyone else, British Airways have quickly dropped their premium route fare to nothing just to survive with an AUS$1444.00 fare SYD/LON, so Qantas will have to match that and these three airlines have been the big hitters on this route for decades so for them to drop it has to be the very last resort.

For Qantas their other Premium route SYD/LAX (los Angeles), has been decimated by V Australia’s close to as possible $1000.00 return fares, with United chopping fares as well for market share its going to be banging heads on the table in the offices at Mascot and not before time.

And suddenly as a break into a new market, Delta has already dealt in a sword in the ground deal of  AUD$982.00 from Syd with Air New Zealand’s counter offer of AUD $889.00 (including taxes) from Coolangatta is near as damn soil cheap as you can get.

This is a snapshot of just one aviation market in Oceania/Asia and it is being repeated though out many other markets in every part of the globe, the good side is that it has leveled fares that were overpriced on monopolised routes, Qantas’s SYD/LAX route fare $2000.00 was quite simply Sheriff of Nottingham territory and to have it halved showed the bonuses that flowed though the doors of the Geoff Dixon era, economic crisis or not that still had to happen.

So we are in the shit, so to speak and the few cashed up travellers are having a boom time, it can’t last and it won’t but it will not be all bad news.

The cheap fares are there because most Airlines are over productive with too many planes and the staff that runs them, as the airlines shred older inefficient aircraft they will create a newer tighter business, staff will go because you are not going to go and pickup and then go back to normal when the economy picks up again, today you need to be lean and efficient, and a good old shake out of the mattress will help the restructuring of almost every aspect of the Aviation Business so you can now throw out the old model and send in with the new as for the first time in its history except with a few bumps aviation is faced without its stunning growth year after year and so like any other business it will have to adapt to the current climate changes.

The cheap fares will last this year  but for the rest it should settle back down again which means many fares will rise as they have too because.

1. Airline restructuring will be completed.

2. Airlines are not public services they have to make money, break even at least.

That is the bad news…the good news is they won’t go nowhere near the old prices or will again, this is the new new for the business so SYD/LON should level out at AUS$1600-$1800 and SYD/LAX about AUS$1200 – $1300 which is still brilliant value, most domestic traffic will not push those AUS$1 a seat deals t0o hard and put on an average of AUS$20 per ticket price per sector, really low LCC (Low Cost Carriers) will have to improve their bottom lines as the likes of Ryanair (I’ll charge you), Easyjet et all, will not find profit in expansive growth anymore and will have to fall to the realities of the a real business model, and this is all in cattle class as even more changes will come in business class, but these prices do still depend on very stable Fuel costs going into 2010, if they rise then so will the fares by another 5% to 10%.

The only growth area will be in the International LCC (Low Cost Carriers), many have already failed in this new dimension to travel, but some pioneers are paving the trail like AirAsia and Jestar International but once the model is proven many others will quickly come abroad but don’t expect really stupid low international fares here, they will be cheaper than normal route fares but these carriers will want to survive and there is a boundary limit to how far down you can go down with fares as international travel is a completely different model to domestic and short haul travel (European) as you need infrastructure and personal at the other end of the route.

Another factor if it comes to pass is that many countries like Australia are being pressured to drop or reduce their heavy outbound and inbound airport taxes to encourage more traffic, and its these expensive government add-ons that can really make a biggest difference to an airfare price,and that is even domestically and should be curtailed as why should be the airlines that always have to shoulder the costs, these little termites are in many countries a bigger cancer than anything in a good tourism market and if the governments are scared of lost revenue then that is not the case as visitors will still spend more in the country if they are not robbed at the entry point.

..At the moment fares are too cheap and unsustainable and how long they will last is not very long, my guess is the Christmas/New Year 09 period and will not be as severely discounted going into 2010 as they were in 2009 and maybe a few excellent specials will still crop up in the traditionally really low periods, say March and Oct/Nov next year, so with an economic crisis or not airlines will not survive unless they do so, there is also a chance they could even rise sooner to stop the bleeding quicker and once one large influential carrier does so the rest will quickly follow, so the real push from next year for your dollar will be in super economy class with more leg room and better service and higher profitable fares for the carrier, the deals will be there but they will expect you to pay more for them so you win and you lose at the same time.

So if your going to fly on the cheap then fly now..and book quickly because fares will rise, but not enough to break your credit card limit…….

Updated 18th Nov 2009…..
I noted in the above issue that the fare to Europe would be AUS$1600.00 – $1800.00, the recent Fares for early 2010 are AUS$1685.00, and will be basically around AUS$1750.00 late 2010, but we are having the problem of very high fares coming  (USA/European Summer) to try to pull back some profit see current issue Airline passengers are back-so lets get back to work, as this is a cash in to pull back profit it won’t work except maybe in the early (May/June 2010) period, but it will scare more away than bring passengers back into their seats….

The New Bloody Battlefield…

It is the new war for your almighty passenger dollar, for years airlines sole requirement was to fill planes with as many bodies as possible, it still is, the main  weapon was price, cheaper the seat, the more customers, but cheaper seats is still a low yield, so the only way to get more from less was to add more to less, in other words cram as many seats as you can between the windows, and as many seats between the bulkheads, seat pitch was well as small as you can get away with, and you have to pay for everything from pillows to water, and the in-flight magazine is well history…but that is another story.

But you did make a profit, a small one at that but a profit never the less.

But has it also caused very bad press, Deep Vein Thrombosis DVT are the airline management’s voodoo words of hell, poor customer relations went south as well, cattle class is branded about and is now more well known than economy or coach class, and being too close to your neighbour passenger is a complaint machine, but the response is if you want to fly cheap this is only way we can do it for that cost…so tough.

Cheap flights do allow people who would usually not fly to take the plunge, but how far is to far, on a short domestic or national sector, of say two hours it is not really a problem, we can put up with chronic fidgeting, bad smells, coughing, but for ten hours could be reduced to murder at twenty five thousand feet, you are a prisoner at the edge of space in no space to yourself.

Airlines have also upped their classes by one, First class is now in a class of its own, Business Class is the old First Class, Economy is the old Business Class and there is the lower now bulk cattle class or cheaper tourist seats, its still a bit like moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic as things really haven’t changed really at all, the cheap seats are still cheap and the First Class seats or flying villas are still in the “if you want to know the price you can’t afford it” category….so the real problem is…

Every Airline flying your sectors are fighting you in one area and one area alone ……Price, lower the price the better the chance you have filling your planes, except if you have a bad PR moment and everybody will then fly with your competitors, but passengers have had simply enough, cramped, over policed, congested airports, flight delays, loss of benefits, and not even a cheap seat will now make up the difference…..so how do get your customers back and make them happy again……service.

But would the passengers pay for it?

I would, if it is fair.

I would pay for a better seat, better food, better entertainment, and most of all better service, I want to be treated as a good customer and not a bum on a seat, and yes I want that at a decent price, But i would pay the extra for it absolutely.

Airlines are now poised for the battle they simply have no choice in, to simply survive they have to deliver, those who do not will fail and go bust.

The main cash cow for any airline is Business Class, or Champagne Class, Premiums are High, good Yields and the customers get the service, excellent service, the rest of you…well you get what you pay for!

What now as the business sector descends into chaos, the 9/11 event will seem a like speck after this comes down, Wall Street will have to fly, ohmygod, Tourist class, and those yields will well disappear…still rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, its not funny anymore.

So the choice is just that you have to make money on the lower classes, to do that prices have to go up, a little, Super Economy does work, People will pay for extra, so it now comes down to being different and not the same, price still counts but its not the main selling point.

The introduction of the new A380 is showing what is happening, space, tons of it gives you flexibility, most Airlines are still selling the premium classes, but this will have to change and quickly, it is the back of the plane that is important now, once ignored, it is now the difference between survival or death, any airline that ignores this segment will be gone, as the rest will be fighting you into the ground for passengers, Air New Zealand are already stripping their planes out, Economy is the new new, ahead of the curve, it will be interesting, it will be bloody, but it will be great, it will be great to look forward to flying again, service, the few who gets it right will win, the few who don’t will be gone or merged, different cabins will now abound, services, food, gifts, blankets, a smile from the steward, and space, glorious space will Prevail, yes it will cost a little more, but it will be worth every cent, as you smile at a former banker from New York, flying like you in Super Economy..

“Cheers mate”.. raise your glass, “its not to bad back here, but you should have seen it a few years ago, bloody awful, great flying again”, he may smile a small smile back, or scowl, but life is better at the back, really great…..