So I started a new airline, Global Flyers AIrways, at LGW. I bought an Airbus A320 and a couple of prop planes. My airbus is scheduled to do 2 routes per day. LGW to Lanzarote, and LGW to Rome (both with return flights). However, I noticed that no passengers have booked the outbound flights and only a few have booked the return flight. This aircreaft has a capacity of 180 people and some cargo. My prices are about $30 less than the other airline flying to those destinations and my on board service is pretty good but still not getting many bookings? And my two prop planes, each with a capacity of 8 passengers, fly to Edinburgh twice evry day and no passengers have booked any flights on those. Can anyone help?

First of all you have to check when the airports you fly to are updated (once a day) you´ll find the information on the airport page. All direct-passengers just book on the mentioned time there, new routes maybe need three days (three updates) before you can see how good or bad the route works…

Then you should make sure that your prop planes from Edinburgh to London and back are feeders to fill the A320, which means that they have to arrive at LGW at least 1:30 hrs BEFORE your flights to Lanzarote and Rome start so that your passengers from Edinbourgh can catch these flights. On the backroutes you should do the same.

To get more passengers on your A320 you should establish more routes with your your props then just Edinbourgh, Manchester would normally be great, make sure all the routes from the North to LGW are on mentioned time so that all passengers can catch the flights to the South and reverse (Hub-and Spoke-System)

BeginnerMaybe you should read this:

  1. Try to start in Pearls server to obtain better results. In developed game world the compeition is very intense. Unless you are servicing an area not yet been served. You are not in position to run a profitable airline.

  2. The default seat configuration are no good for compeition. You could switch the auto default seat configuration setting off before purchasing a plane. This way you can purchase a plane without seats and won’t waste money in auto installing crappy seats. Putting better seats allow you to charge higher.

  3. If you paid, use ORS to see how the others are doing in the customers’ mind. This could give you insight in whether there are still room in any particular route \

  4. Get decent planes. Use the aircraft evaluation tool to choose the best plane. You might want t do that before picking your choice.

Thanks for the advice, I’d already started on Stapleton as Pearls is full. My bookings for the airbus are rising and have hit 20 - 30 for economy, 2 -5 for buisness and all cargo slots filled. I ditched the crappy seats and spent just over 100k on some new ones. One prop plane is flying full from LGW to MAN and back twice a day (9 passengers each way) and the other is about half capacity from LGW to EDI and back twice everyday, and are scheduled so they feed my airbus. My route to Rome is beginning to look good but I ditched Lanzarotte for Athens due to a higher passenger demand there. However as I am still not filling my airbus up to near full I am making a 9 - 14k loss on every flight. This means that unless things change my company will probably be bankrupt within a couple of weeks. I hope the passenger numbers pick up though due to the new seats, a good onboard service a lower ticket prices than my competitiors (if I can fill to near capacity I can start making a profit and will consider raising ticket prices slightly). Have you got any other tips that may help?

Especially on the Old Servers i would suggest not to start with an Airbus since it is very difficult to fill … Try Dash8/CRJ/E-Jets … these are good in the beginning and will help you to make Profits. And you have different sizes on the CRJ and E-Jets …

I agree, filling a narrowbody plane is challenging at the beginning. Take smaller jets/props, and you can offer more corresponding flights, and that will fill your seats. And always make shure your passengers can reach all connecting flights, in both directions! This is far more important than service or seats.

You schedule your planes to make 4 short trips a day? No wonder you don’t make any money…

Rule 1 in Airline Business: Planes only generate revenue when they are in the air! (so squeeze more flights out of them!!)

Another question, would you suggest buying second hand planes in the beginning or leasing as many new aircraft as possible? As I may reset and try to get some Dash 8’s and CRJ’s. Also any particulary good routes that I should try with these aircraft?

Oh and any recommendation of the CRJ model, I was thinking the CRJ ER and some Dash 8 - 100 or 200’s

Well I personally think it is better to lease aircrafts … if you lease 5 Dash or 5 CRJ its a good start because the hub benefits the more planes and flights you have … I would go for the Dash8-400A or the CRJ-700 or -900 since they are very economical… the ER and LR versions you can use if you really need the extra range since these planes burn more fuel …

So I restarted my airline, and leased 5 CRJ 700’s, 1 Dash8 - 400A and 2 LET410’s. I offer several destinations across Europe, most being short haul but a couple of long haul. I use the LET’s as feeders to my hub, they fly to the Northern UK cities and back. However, I noticed some destinations are getting more bookings than others even though I’m offering really cheap ticket prices, much less than my competition. These ticket prices mean that I only make a small amount of profit per flight if the plane is full (1 - 2k). Is this because my competition offer more flights to these destinations than me? As all the destinations I fly to have a demand of 7 or 8 so I thought that filling 78 seats couldn’t be too hard.

I would personally adjust the Price to be at or just below the lowest competetor. Otherwise you leave Profit behind. Only if you can not fill up your plane think about adjusting the Price… Do you have created and implemented service profiles for your routes? Your Passengers need service and i am sure a lot of your competetors have service offers on their flight. That can result in getting less Passengers. The Demand of an Airport is not important not important … have a good Look on your flight rating an the Flight details and the ORS system… in the ORS the higher your flight is listed the more likely you will get Passengers …

On most of my routes I am rated above all of my competition yet their flights are still fully booked? I have just tweaked my on board service settings slightly to bring ratings up on the other routes. It now costs me $10.40 for every passenger rather than $5.10. Hopefully this will bring passenger numbers up, then I can think about increasing my prices slightly once I see the majority of my flights filling up. Do the seat types have a major effect on the rating/paseenger numbers? I upgraded a couple of my aircraft from the standard ones to the economy ones, which reduces capacity but improves quality.

You need to get some interline partners. When I first started, some routes were at maybe 50% capacity. When I started interlining, now those routes are at 100% capacity. You can see how good a route does because it tells you how many are connecting pax from interline partners.

another word of advice that would be greatly appreciated is to not go too low in price when you have competition. Im on Pearls, and I have a competitor who is slashing me crazy. I was the only airline on many routes with 100% load factor, and he came in added flights and left the default price. Now I am making 45% less money on flights because I had to drop my prices drastically to match him and fly full.

I am now charging just less than my closest competitors, in some cases more as I have to to maintain the service and still make a profit. However my planes are just simply not filling up and it’s really frustrating. I have applied for interlining with some of the airlines who fly into LGW and some of my destinations but none have accepted yet. So I’ll just have to keep making a loss for the moment.

I think people perhaps confuse things they actually have to do with things they feel they ought to do. You don’t have to maintain a particular service - you may want to, and it may be that given income from follow-on flights you come out ahead by keeping up theoretically loss-making routes, but:

  • as a small airline you can’t afford to incur the losses right now;

  • given the geography of your situation you’ll be getting basically no connecting traffic anyway;

  • your objective right now is to get as much money into your pockets as possible; the absolute last thing you want to do is deal with stuff like, say, competition, or fare wars, because the end results of those things are less money for you. There’s probably a few books to be written on what peoples’ perception of what capitalist behaviour should be is vs what it actually is, but remember you’re not buying the tickets; your job is to fleece the people getting on the planes for all they’re worth.

So, let’s take a look at where you’re at:

Prices aren’t everything. The mere fact of pricing your flights at $X-1 isn’t inherently going to throw every passenger at you. Do your competitors offer better seats? Better service? Do they have developed, happy, well-trained staff? (You can’t magic this one up overnight - it takes a while - just remember that if they’re not happy the passengers won’t be either…) Do they give their aircraft a bit of a rest halfway through the day to allow the trash to be taken out? If they do, their image will be better than you’d expect - intangible, but it does insulate them from upstarts trying to be cute by trying to undercut them by negligible amounts - passengers are going to stick with what they know…

Gatwick is a risky (I won’t say ‘bad’, because it can be done…but you kinda need to know what you’re doing before you start!) place to start an airline. There’s plenty of traffic, not least since you get ground spillover from the rest of LON, but the fundamental problem is that there’s only one runway, so the number of aircraft that can make it in or out is limited - it may take years to get enough slots together to build an effective connecting hub, and to effectively serve it in the long term you need larger aircraft, which are exactly what you don’t want if you’re starting out and trying to make a go of things based on connecting people far and wide. This is not helped by the the tendency of players to do just the opposite of that and gum up the works with larger numbers of smaller aircraft to prevent anyone else getting established, but that’s not a problem that’s going away…

Connections are guided by a few basic principles:

  • Passengers have specific destinations. It’s no benefit being able to provide a connection from, say, Moscow to Harare if noone wants to fly that route. Similarly, it’s of very little benefit providing connections between two places there’s traffic between if all the passengers who want to do so can just fly direct, or can do it at half the cost and time expenditure with someone else.

  • Detours are the enemy. The further out of their way you’re trying to take passengers the less attractive the connection will be; as distance increases time spent increases, and costs increase - ultimately either you pay them or your passengers do. So, you won’t connect too many people between Stockholm and Rome via Gatwick, because they can fly direct at half the total distance, and so time and cost.

  • Time matters. Passengers are willing to wait around for a while if they’re connecting halfway around the world, but if they’re only going 100 miles it’d be quicker to drive. So they, uh, will. Obviously as total distance travelled increases the time they’re willing to wait increases.

Ok - your situation is that you’re trying to connect people within Europe from the edge - so they have to go out of their way to get on your aircraft - and you have minimal growth potential locally. You can:

  • Stay and fight it out. You’ll be working without major connecting flows for a time, so your focus would be on providing travel options from LON that aren’t already available. This might involve relatively small aircraft, or irregular flights - you’re not going to get 1000 people a day trying to get from London to Lourdes. I do wonder if you might get 60 a day from London to Hartford, for example…

  • Move. Somewhere else in the UK, somewhere else in Europe, or just flatten your airline and start somewhere else. Considered a micro transatlantic connector with those weird little Antonov 148Es? They’ve got the range if you fling’em from Glasgow or Belfast. Africa’s a great place to spend a few weeks when you’re starting up - not because you’ll build the world’s largest airline, or even because you’ll necessarily make a profit, but because there aren’t 5000 flights a day going in and out of every airport and so, given the application of a bit of brainpower, it’s a lot easier to visualise exactly where your passengers are going and how they’re going about getting there.

Remember - the ORS is your friend. Use it - plug in your routes, and the routes you’re trying to extract connecting traffic from, and you can figure out how passengers are flying and why.

Brilliant post.

I agree that was a brilliant post and I found it very helpful. I think I’ll stick it out at LGW and fight it out, I’m beginning to phase out the routes that I’m making losses on. I’ve found a few routes that are filling up nicely, 60 - 70% capacity from LGW and 95% - 100% capacity back to LGW. So I am making some profit on these. Would I see these numbers decrease if I increased the number of aircraft and flights on these routes? Also because these routes are fairly short, LGW - CDG, LGW - DUS and LGW - ZRH, would it be a good or bad move to switch back to the standard seats rather than the economy seats, to try to increase capacity and therefore profit? Or should I try fitting some buisness seats to bring in some extra cash?

The answer will never really not be "it depends". Such is life.

If you provide more flights then fairly naturally a static (well, not really static these days, but relatively) pool of potential passengers will distribute themselves between them fairly evenly. Also naturally, your actual potential pool of passengers isn’t necessarily static - maybe they can make a connection with you or someone else on a flight at a different time that they couldn’t with your existing effort. If that’s true, you may get more (on that particular flight - unless it totally fills up with connections your first one will likely take at least a bit of a hit); if it’s not, you’re liable to get less. It is basically impossible to answer the question definitively - try it and see.

Short routes don’t inherently reward high-density seating. If you look at the ratings on the cabin config screen the first step up (so, Econ, or whatever it is) gets a fairly hefty bump even at short ranges. So - right there you effectively have the ability to charge a price premium (or, at worst, the ability to avoid a price deficit to keep up with the Joneses). Unfortunately we’re not quite at the point of modelling the guy with $20 and a can of deodorant in his bag who shows up at the airport at 7:30 and just knows he wants to fly somewhere today, heh. Also, if you’re not filling the seats you’ve already got, there’s nothing to be gained by adding more - don’t over-value volume, especially if you’re not filling seats onwards. Where those things can really start to be important is in situation where there’s just so much traffic you have no other way of serving it effectively (so, the 2pm Buffalo - Kennedy with eighteen thousand onward connections and no free slots could use it, but not so much the 3am return).

Business class at the moment is moooore or less universal, I think - your J passengers will fly in economy if they have to, so if you’re the only one providing services to somewhere it can be to your advantage not to provide it (but you potentially run into micromanagement / aircraft usage issues); if you’re flying a route and someone else on it doesn’t have a J cabin you should add one yourself, since you’ll blow the competing J-in-Y ORS eval out of the water and catch most of the traffic; if you’re flying a route and someone else on it does have a J cabin but you don’t then you should also add one, on the same reasoning (except applied the other way round). Business class doesn’t have to be champagne and caviar - they don’t necessarily need two seats to a row on distances that short (though, again, price premium if you do) and it’s basically impossible to make them happy with the catering without spending $50 per passenger (which is just crazy) so more so than economy you’ll have to do some hustling on price if you’re chasing top ratings.