When is it the right time to abandon the Dash 8 Q400?

Hey there, I was wondering if you could suggest me, by personal experience, when one could stop buying the Dash 8 and switch to bigger airplanes/distant airports.

I understand that the Dash 8 provides the highest benefits in the game for short-medium distances, but after a while you just want to start opening distant routes flying up to 5-6 hours oneway just for fun, you know what I mean.

I run a fairly profitable airline of 15 Dash 8 aircrafts operating from a single airport, should I aim for a specific number of passengers flying through it every week? (such as 20k, 30k, 50k, 100k a week before considering buying bigger aircraft)

Thanks for your input

Sounds like nows the right time to switch to bigger aircraft, not for business reasons but because it sounds like your getting bored :wink: Honestly theres no right or wrong time to swap up from the venerable Q400. Naturally it makes sense to move out of your domestic market if your fulfiling all demand. Also important to note is that although the aircraft type evaluation tool gives you the approx return, on longer routes especially the Q400 suffers due to its lower cruise speed (which is tecnically inaccurate as it actually cruises at 650km/h but hopefully this will be rectified in 1.6) so while it may appear to pay a greater return than say a 737, the jet will fly another flight in the same time span.

Its always fun to try something a little different, at the moment I’m thinking about moving into long haul operations using widebodies and just started a small regional airline using money made from stock dividends. Maybe save up for a couple of weeks and introduce a narrowbody jet just for the fun of it. You can then swap back to buying more dashes if you want.

I would suggest keep growing by adding more Q400s, and slowly build 737s/320s into your fleet.

The reason:

Let’s say for arguments sake the q400 can seat 50 pax in a 2 class config, and a 737/320 can seat 100.

Because there will be atleast X people willing to pay a higher price for the ticket, you can charge more for q400s, thus giving you greater margin.

Also, for every 737/320 you lease, you can lease around 2.2 q400s. This ultimately gives you better connections (because of more departures), thus increases pax loads.

I wouldn’t really look at the pax that go through every week - that depends hugely on your business model. I had many many Business Seats and my pax number was really low for a long while, but my growth rate was higher than regional competitors because of the increased margins.

Lastly, one draw back of the q400:

the plane flies slower than other jets, so upgrading means you loose your slots. At the moment my capacity is strained. I could easily replace 50-60 of my q400s with 737s but the slots won’t fit in - thus my capacity is constrained until my competitor goes bankrupt (hopefully soon!). But this is only an issue if your hub is extremely busy (mine is DXB) and you have 250+ aricraft and 70+ destinations because at that stage, all you do is add capacity.

Good luck - Saad