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The failing airline industry

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Smasher_Sloan, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    OK, I know that the rising fuel costs have kicked the airlines squarely in the ass. But even before that, it seemed to be an industry in trouble.

    Is there a basic explanation for how it got this way? I don't know the first thing about business. Damn near every flight I've been on for the last 20 years has been jammed, the airports are wall-to-wall people and it seems like more people were flying than ever. Yet, the airlines are all going in the crapper. What happened?
  2. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    Helluva question.

    The reason that every flight is packed could be because they've reduced the number of flights they run, but I really don't see how there could be less demand to fly now than there was in, say, the '60s or '70s. Population increase alone would seem to warrant the need for more flights.

    I'm thinking that all of the hassles people have to go through to fly nowadays might be dropping demand. For instance, to fly from my home airport to Philadelphia on Southwest is about $100 (roundtrip). Driving roundtrip would cost about the same (about $84 in gas, plus tolls). It's about a 4 to 4.5 hour drive for me and it's probably only an hour-long flight. However, since I have to check in two hours beforehand, deal with all the security and worry whether my luggage will make it there, it's much more convenient to drive.

    I'd rather spend the extra hour in my car and then have my own transportation around the city. Plus I don't have to worry about anyone's schedule except my own.

    Speed was one of the airlines' major advantages, especially when it came to people who wanted to make shorter trips. With that advantage eroded by ludicrous security procedures (taking your shoes off is the dumbest security measure in history), people probably opt to drive more.
  3. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    There's probably a host of reasons but I think you could start with deregulation--a point of view which I'm sure some are going to crap all over.

    Yup, we have cheaper flights and more choice but the airlines have lost billions and billions in the last 30 years. At some point, you have to consider not just the consumer but the industry.

    Problem is, there probably isn't ONE simple reason.

    I used to love flyingn Now if there's any way of avoiding it (like driving to NYC) I/we will
  4. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    Very simple. Airlines have refused to charge enough to cover all their costs. No other business would do that; nor should it.

    The industry is on the verge of a massive overhaul. No other way around it. Five years from now there probably will be three or four major U.S. carriers.
  5. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    You can usually check in 45 minutes beforehand. Unless it's a crazy holiday.

    If it's a quick, one-hour flight, there is no layover. How can your luggage NOT make it?
  6. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Another small factor, especially with the major carriers: they tried to be over-convenient, offering sometimes a dozen flights between cities, then flying those at half-capacity. Completely dumb in terms of costs. Now they're backpedaling rapidly, cutting those schedules and sometimes even downsizing to regional jets, which in turn upsets customers who were used to having those huge schedules to choose from.

    And trifecta is right, we really *should* be paying more. They've been increasing fares, but instead of completely dropping the hammer they're throwing in all these nickel-and-dime charges, from the luggage fees to snacks to whatever else.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    What has happened, though, is that the airlines have to lower their fares keep up with the competitor. You might be losing money by doing it, but you might go out of business if you fly a bunch of empty jets because your rate is $20 more than Delta.
  8. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Or they all raise fares together, one probably relieved to see the other's going up so it can follow suit.
  9. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    the labor movement has also contributed to the demise of the industry.

    i'm the most pro-union guy around but unions have crippled the legacy carriers. they are literally unable to do anything without causing massive union strife. it's probably a symptom or offshoot of a greater problem of the inefficiency (not that unions necessarily make a company inefficient) of running a massive company spread out throughout the globe with so many different operating venues.
  10. Lucas Wiseman

    Lucas Wiseman Well-Known Member

    My frequent flyer miles are getting more valuable by the minute. Fares are going to skyrocket in the coming years, I predict. The days of sub-$100 fares to Orlando and Vegas, of which I've purchased a few in the past, are long behind us.
  11. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    That's interesting, because flying has become a "must" enterprise for many people and most businesses. Somebody mentioned on another thread that we were allowed to start flying again a few days after 9/11 not because it was suddenly safe, but because the nation's livelihood depended on it.

    So you would think airlines would have us by the balls, like oil companies.

    But it doesn't work that way.
  12. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Interesting, because I'm old enough to remember the days when flying was not routine for most people. People flew when they had to, and it was expensive. Then the discount carriers came in with $59 fares and it was literally cheaper than Greyhound. Changed the whole dynamic.

    I wonder if we're getting back to a point where air travel is for those who must use it, and for the upscale people who can afford leisure trips.
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