European deregulation : analysis of the future of European low cost carriers
The appearance of low cost scheduled airlines in Europe, operating with the same philosophy of low fares, `no-frills' and high frequency service to that of Southwest airlines has been the main departure from the existing market `status quo'. After a 6-year period which saw such airlines becoming more numerous and gaining wider acceptance from the public, this study tries to investigate whether they will have an assured future and, if so, what form this will take. The investigation is in two parts. In the first part the background environment is investigated in terms of the policy application, the industry infrastructure and the economic conditions prevalent in the past years as well as currently. Additionally, comparisons of the differences between the approaches to deregulation of the US and the EU policy makers are analysed, hence their repercussions on the low cost carrier market are examined. In the second part, a model was thus developed to simulate the direct costs of operations of a low cost airline. The model provided information about the cost per distance flown for an airline flying on a given route. Following that a number of routes were surveyed to find the aircraft costs per sector of flying each route so that a fully costed route portfolio was available. In the next stage an airline intra-European scheduled operation was created using a small number of aircraft with two different schedule types: a typical low cost high frequency operation and one reflecting a full cost, business and leisure traffic mix. Comparisons of the overall performances between the two schedules were carried out. Subsequent to that, 381 European routes grouped as scheduled, charter and domestic were used to apply the derived data to check their suitability for entry by the low cost carrier. The results obtained clearly demonstrate the increased operational efficiency of the low cost type of schedules. Growth will continue as the low cost formula makes considerable inroads to existing markets. Secondly, the future route entry opportunities are to be found with many monopoly or duopoly city pairs currently under-served, provided airport access is assured. The biggest opportunities though are with a large number of leisure routes served by charter carriers, as they fit both the low cost airline passenger profile as well as the airline's requirements. Finally, the domestic routes were all served too intensively to make them viable for entry.