Monday, January 02, 2006

A sad day for Flyi, and low-cost airlines in general

As of January 5, 2006, Independence Air, found on the web as flyi.com, will cease operations. According to a letter to their customers, "the financial pressures in the industry have prevailed. We have run out of time."

I read this weekend in a mainstream media story about this that one of the "big reasons" they are going belly-up is their heavy use of "50-70 passenger regional jets" to which I say, hogwash.

Everyone who reads this blog knows that RJs are much faster and more efficient that, say, a fleet of aging MD- and Super-80s, or even older Boeing -37s. RJs get with the program, sip fuel, and can get up to the flight levels NOW.

While I will never claim to be a mathematician, what is killing the airlines is EMPTY SEATS, not the wrong flying machine. I have always said that if the commercial carriers did away with their huge financial penalty for booking a seat inside of their usual three-week waiting period window, maybe they could survive financially.
Think about this: They calculate the average cost per seat mile of all routes, and come up with a base rate + profit to haul your ass anywhere along their line. Then, whether it's one day or one month before departure, the seat mile rate X number of miles you want to travel is your fare, period. No horseplay with jacking the price for business travelers who need to get there tomorrow.
So what that would mean is if there are empty seats, a paying butt would be in it, and he/she would pay the exact amount as the guy next to you who booked online 30 days prior. If the Big Three could come up with something like this, and fill their empty seats along their less impacted routes, we wouldn't have to loose carriers like Independence, which BTW has a really cool paint scheme.

I know the "low-cost" lines already have a similar fare scheme, and guess what? Besides the demise of Flyi, all the low guys are making money. Think the Big Three will ever follow their lead and quit raping souls who want only to get to the next state over for a weekend with the wife? Never in a million years. This mega-penalty for business travel has always been a golden egg for the Big Three, and it is also what is causing business aviation and charter to prosper.