Airlines around the world are constantly trying to add new destinations to their route network. They perform multiple route evaluations in order to know if a route will be profitable in the long term or not.
Airliners use several programs and tools to perform their route studies. They look at passenger demand forecasts, hub connectivity, aircraft accessibility, and other competitors.
Here are the four key considerations that an airline must make while both tweaking existing routes and planning new ones.
Before starting a brand new route, airlines need to know how many passengers will travel on their flight. Most airlines use aviation market intelligence tools to parse and analyze all available information.
This data comes from within the airline itself, as well as industry-wide passenger info that identifies trends in traffic. Essential data points to consider are fares, routes, airlines, and connections. Airlines deploy this data to see how many passengers are traveling on a daily basis (including connections) between airport pairs.
There is only one daily flight between DAB and JFK (operated by JetBlue). However, passengers also travel on alternative airlines between these 2 cities. You may have a passenger that has a frequent flyer status with American Airlines and will decide to fly on American, even if it’s a connection in Charlotte.
From a large collection of databases, airlines can see the city in which each passenger connects, the airline they flew on, and the average fare they purchased the leg.
By knowing the average traffic flow per day, airlines will confirm which kind of aircraft is best suited for the route. An airline will certainly not start a route and fly a Boeing 777. Where there are only a few passengers traveling every day between points A and B. it would simply not make any sense to operate an aircraft of such capacity.
Connectivity At The Hub
Most airlines have one or more hubs where they operate most of their flights. The duty of the Network planning team at an airline is to make sure that most passengers will be able to go to the destination of their choice in the airline’s route network.
For example, if you’re flying out of Daytona Beach International airport, the only nonstop flights are to Atlanta, Charlotte, and New York-JFK. At these airports, the flights are timed to allow passengers to connect to a different flight which will eventually bring them to their final destination.
Local traffic between point A and point B is important, but airlines can also get more traffic flow by getting passengers from connecting flights at the hub.
Airlines can predict revenue and profit on a route depending on different times of the day. If the flight is scheduled at a time of the day when there is no possibility of connections to other cities.
Then the airline might not do as well as a flight that’s timed for inbound and outbound connections. Some flights have an optimal time for local traffic whereas other flights are timed for passenger connectivity.
When airlines fly multiple times a day between 2 cities, the flights are typically evenly spread out during the day. Business travelers typically enjoy taking a flight early in the morning and return home at the end of the day after their meetings.
An airline will have to source an aircraft when deciding to fly to a new destination. a major airline with a large fleet of aircraft may be able to find a spare aircraft and assign it to the new route.
It will be easier for an airline to pull an aircraft from its fleet for a 1-hour domestic flight than a 15-hour international flight. A regional aircraft might fly four to 5 flights a day to different cities while a wide-body airplane might only fly once a day on an 8-hour oversea flight.
Not all aircraft can fly on a specific route. aircraft limitations are taken into consideration when aircraft are assigned to a route. For example, a 70-seater regional jet cannot fly from North America to Europe because it simply doesn’t have the range to do such missions.
Some aircraft perform better than others at airports with high temperatures and higher elevations.
Matching The Competition
Opening a new route that’s already flown by another air carrier isn’t unusual since there are thousands of airlines operating in the world. The route between new york (JFK) to London (LHR) is flown by many different airlines flying multiple times a day. starting this new route will be a challenge for an airline.
However, flying to a smaller city with no airline competition might be a much better choice.
Some airlines might have an advantage over smaller ones. Large airlines, as mentioned earlier, can feed their flights at their hubs with connecting passenger traffic. On the other hand, smaller airlines that don’t operate many flights at their home airport might mostly rely on local traffic to fill their flights.