Airline Economics in Europe: Volume 8

Cover of Airline Economics in Europe

Table of contents

(12 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-ix
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Abstract

European air transport policy, emerged through the confluence of case law and legislation, in four broad areas: liberalization, safety and security, greening, and the external policy. Following the implementation of the single market for air transport, policy shifted to liberalizing and regulating associated services and in recent years to greening, the external aviation policy, and safety and security. Inclusion of air transport in the Environmental Trading Scheme of the European Union exemplifies the European Commission’s proactive stand on bringing the industry in line with emission reduction trajectories of other industries. However, the bid to include flights to third countries in the trading scheme pushed the EU into a controversial position, causing the Commission to halt implementation and to give ICAO time to seek a global multilateral agreement. The chapter also discusses how the nationality clauses in air services agreements breached the Treaty of Rome, and a court ruling to that effect enabled the EC to extend EU liberalization policies beyond the European Union, resulting in the Common Aviation Area with EU fringe countries and the Open Aviation Area with the USA. Another important area of progress was aviation safety, where the EU region is unsurpassed in the world, yet the Commission has pushed the boundary even further, by establishing the European Safety Agency to oversee the European Aviation Safety Management System. Another important area of regulatory development was aviation security, a major focus after the woeful events in 2001, but increasingly under industry scrutiny on costs and effectiveness. The chapter concludes by arguing that in the coming decade, the EU will strive to strengthen its position as a global countervailing power, symbolized in air transport by a leadership position in environmental policy and international market liberalization, exemplified in the EU’s external aviation policy.

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There is a strong academic and professional interest in the changing business model of LCCs in Europe. Recently, even Ryanair which is often considered a European LCC role model has departed from the point-to-point paradigm by offering transfers within its own network. We first provide a general overview of recent changes in the business model of airlines that used to be categorized as LCCs. We then add to existing studies on LCC network strategies toward building connections. While we distinguish different approaches to accommodate transfer passengers, our analysis focuses on mesh networks as an airline network topology other than hub-and-spoke networks to provide online connections. A schedule analysis of Ryanair’s direct and indirect services at its base at Porto airport exemplifies that a mesh network might allow LCCs to go beyond stand-alone operations to become network carriers without requiring a complete transition of the generic LCC business strategy.

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Abstract

Choosing the right pricing strategy is a complex decision, even though it is fundamental for transport companies whose activities are very diverse and subject to strong stochastic fluctuations. However, in spite of its complexity, adequate pricing can be a very relevant instrument to ensure the competitive position of the company.

European airlines are competing for the same passengers, often with different strategies and, as a consequence, with different financial results at the end of the fiscal year. The use of different pricing strategies is one of the potential explanations. This brings us to the research question of this chapter: How can air pricing strategies be used to support strategic aims, and what are the consequences?

This chapter first deals with the state of the art in air pricing strategies, followed by an analysis of the relationship between airline pricing, yields and profit. The focus then moves to a case study at Brussels Airport over the period 2012–2017. Following the entry of Vueling and Ryanair at Brussels Airport, the incumbent Brussels Airlines launched a very aggressive pricing war against the two newcomers. The result was a partial withdrawal by Vueling and Easyjet and an end to Ryanair’s expansion at Brussels Airport. Even without access to confidential detailed data, one can learn a lot from the reconstruction of the consecutive management decisions by the airlines involved.

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This chapter considers the productivity of 77 airlines between 1980 and 2013. We do so by estimating a stochastic frontier and decomposing the total factor productivity growth into efficiency, technical and scale efficiency change. Our results show that, on average, airlines increased productivity over the period but that, while efficiency and technical change improved, scale efficiency results indicate that the average airline moved away from the most productive scale size. This was especially so in the two decades after 1980. Comparisons between geographical areas, business models, networks and alliances are also made.

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This study investigates, both theoretically and empirically, the effects of joint ventures on traffic. Although alliances are a pre-condition for joint ventures, both cooperation agreements are different in their nature. The reason is that alliances are revenue-sharing agreements, whereas joint ventures also involve a cost-sharing commitment. Our empirical analysis focuses on the transatlantic market, including non-stop routings (interhub markets) and one-stopover routings (interline markets). Our theoretical and empirical findings emphasize the relevance of economies of traffic density and reveal a positive effect of joint ventures on traffic, both in interhub and interline markets.

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Abstract

Business Aviation (BA) is an important segment of nonscheduled air transport, providing personalized solutions for business trips by air. Unlike scheduled air transport or holiday charters, BA has hardly been dealt with in the academic literature. This chapter gives insight into the structure and key economic effects of the European (EU28 + EFTA) BA sector. Hereby, we differentiate between the sector’s macroeconomic footprint, in terms of jobs or gross value added (GVA), and the generation of business efficiencies and connectivity benefits for the users. Based on our own data collection and input-output analyses using data from the World Input-Output Database and Eurostat, we find that the effect of BA over the EU28 GVA is almost 0.2%. Also, some 374,000 European jobs are directly or indirectly dependent on the sector’s activities, which is more than the total number of jobs in, e.g., Cyprus. More than half of these jobs stem from the operation of business aircraft and from closely related operational services like maintenance (“MRO”) and handling (“FBO”), while the remaining employment occurs in the production of business aircraft and parts. Comparing actual European BA flights against their fastest commercial travel alternatives, key efficiencies came to light, such as average travel time savings of 127 minutes per flight, annual savings of about € 15 million in overnight hotel costs and an average 150% increase in productive work time for the travelers. Furthermore, we find that BA can significantly improve connectivity, as it serves about 25,000 city pairs not connected by nonstop scheduled air services.

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Air cargo was traditionally considered as a by-product of passenger air transport. However, in the last decade a defined strategy for air cargo has gained a key position in the strategies of most combination airlines, contributing largely to the cash and profit levels of these airlines. The global air cargo industry is nowadays a mature industry with over 60 billion USD in direct revenues. The strategic context is, therefore, far beyond the basic entrepreneurial framework in which an emerging and young industry tends to operate. This chapter aims to gain an enhanced insight into the strategies of airlines that transport cargo, either in the bellies of passenger aircraft or in full-freighter aircraft. A Cluster Analysis generates a typology of seven representative clusters of air cargo operators’ strategy models. The typology proposes a spectrum of strategies for air cargo, ranging from the cluster group “Carpet Sellers” up to the “Cargo Stars” cluster. While the former tend to be the small airlines or all-cargo carriers which barely manage to cover their costs with their revenues, the latter are profitable, very large globally operating airlines that focus on both passengers and cargo with passenger and freighter aircraft. Within this spectrum there are five other main strategy groups: the “Basic Cargo Operators,” the “Strong Regionals,” the “Low Cost Low Yielder,” the “Large Passenger Wide-body Operators,” and the “Premium Cargo Operators.” Our findings suggest the existence of superior strategy models that could be defined as “winning strategies” that differ according to airline size.

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This chapter assesses the economic impact of geared turbofan (GTF) engines on the London Heathrow Airport (LHR)–Frankfurt Airport (FRA) route using cost–benefit analysis (CBA). An aircraft appraisal model is created to answer the two key questions of whether the A320neos aircraft with GTF engines could replace the conventional A320 aircraft through an operating lease (acquisition) or whether it would be better for society if the LHR–FRA sector is operated with a leased 737-800 aircraft. The scope of the CBA analysis is from 2015 until 2027.

The outcomes of the aircraft appraisal model indicate that switching to A320neos on lease (Option 2) might be beneficial. The fuel consumption of the A320neo aircraft is lower than that of the current A320-200 aircraft (2,234 kg vs 2,988 kg per sector). As a result, this option could offer a large benefit (NPV of USD 31 million) through lower fuel consumption and thus lower fuel costs. At the same time, a fuel reduction means a lower emissions impact (about USD 2 million benefit). It can be concluded that keeping the current A320-200 (NPV of USD 8.9 million) is less profitable than replacing it with a leased A320neo (NPV of USD 31 million) for Airline A, but better than a B737-800 (NPV USD 4.3 million). The option to lease the A320neos appears to be preferred in most cases, considering the impact of noise and NOx cost, due to the large benefit of NPV USD 25 million compared to the A320 and an approximately 29 million difference compared with the B737-800.

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This chapter considers time-differentiated airport noise surcharges that occur in addition to general noise fees at an airport. In practice, an essential problem of such surcharges may consist of setting the price for a social policy goal, such as airport noise reduction, by shifting a number of critical flights away from sensitive times-of-day in the presence of an additional, competing economic policy goal in terms of fostering the network hub function and connectivity of that airport. In such a case, additional noise surcharges aim at balancing the socioeconomic noise costs against economic prosperity, to achieve a net benefit for society by inducing a particular airline scheduling behavior, such as shifting non-hub-relevant flights only. As a result, they differ from the well-known economic concepts for the internalization of externalities. We address this problem by offering a shift from an economic welfare view to a business administration perspective with the airlines as stakeholders, in order to describe the different rationales that need to be accounted for when searching for a pricing scheme that achieves one of the distinct steering effects in terms of airline scheduling behavior. In addition, we offer a tentative, generic guideline to determine the appropriate dimension of time-differentiated noise surcharges depending on the steering effect.

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Index

Pages 247-256
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Cover of Airline Economics in Europe
DOI
10.1108/S2212-160920198
Publication date
2019-10-21
Book series
Advances in Airline Economics
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78973-282-5
Book series ISSN
2212-1609