I currently have an airline on otto which is doing fine. Its making consistent profit and slowly expanding.
However I am getting a bit bored with it and I want to start an airline in a permanent game world now. However eevery single tiny city already has a plethora of flights, there's a couple of huge airlines which fly the most r idiculous routes (Guwahati - Reykjavik daily, anyone?).
So I wonder, how on earth can you start being profitable if you have only 10 million to start with in such a saturated game world? Is it worth even trying (and spending the credits to try)?
Well, obviously it's possible - you're surrounded by people who have done it, after all. It isn't necessarily easy, or quick, and a lot of what can go right or wrong is outside your control. I'm actually probably a nice example, so let's take a look at Dominion Airlines:
- I (re)started in July; I started playing AS in...2006? 2007? but hadn't done so for a couple of years, so I decided to make a new account and start afresh. I had previously had some very large airlines ("thousands of aircraft" large) so I had a reasonable idea of what I was doing, but I didn't want to have to deal with that sort of time commitment again, so I thought I'd keep things a bit restrained. I started an airline up in Canada, which at the time was dominated by a very, very old airline (2009?), which owned most of its aircraft, had IL agreements with essentially every airline that flew to Canada, occupied most slots, etc ad nauseam, on the assumption that, best-case, it'd be a long time before I really got anywhere.
- The first attempt at doing stuff, out of Vancouver, worked...more or less, and would have made about $500k a week if I'd stuck with it. I had started it up with a bunch of brand-new aircraft, which was a bit limiting in being able to move an adequate number of people around, so I decided to flatten and restart with older aircraft.
- That didn't work terribly well either; to make Vancouver work on its own would have required a lot of fairly long-range flying, and I mostly had a bunch of small, short-ranged aircraft. I restarted again after a couple of weeks and moved to Toronto with essentially the same fleet.
(Somewhere in here I started an airline in Iran, as well, which had just had its only airline quit; that worked out ok but isn't really very interesting)
- Toronto didn't really go any better; congestion meant that I had aircraft sat on the ground a lot, competition meant that I was lucky to get 50 people on a 737; the usual story for a new airline. I thought I'd stick it out for a week and see how things went.
- Literally a day before I was going to delete the airline, the 2009 dinosaur quit, and I noticed within a few minutes. Suddenly Canada was absolutely wide open - this what I mean when I say that stuff is often outside your control - but I had a pretty garbage fleet, no money, and if I didn't do something quickly there'd be 20 clueless people starting new airlines and I'd be no better off.
- I restarted again, in a tremendous hurry; I prioritized getting the greatest absolute income possible for the lowest amount of money up-front, and so took on a giant pile of 30+-year old 737-200s and DHC-8s; I puffed up operations out of Toronto as much as I could to try and look as intimidating as an airline that's only a day old can, then closed my eyes and waited. I was, I think, down to $50,000 at the 24 hour mark, but reasonable money came in pretty quickly after that, and I continued to prioritize cheap aircraft for a while afterwards.
- I was very lucky in that the other airlines that popped up or already existed in Canada were either incompetent, cargo-culting or not very interested in growing. I'm now in a position that is...not unassailable, but strong enough that I don't have to worry about some random startup ruining everything overnight.
People will suggest that you start up in some backwater with no local competition, and that will obviously allow you to build an airline in a sort of sandbox environment, which can be useful if you haven't got the mechanics down. I personally think if you're going to do that you should also start an airline somewhere a bit more interesting - the US, Europe, Russia, China, wherever - even if you don't make any money out of it, just so you can start to accumulate some area knowledge that you can then use to react to stuff like large competitors quitting.