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Old 01-02-2008, 07:11 AM   #1
Ned
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Lightbulb Airline/Passenger trends in the new year

In an article in TravelMole.com today, Top ten airline passenger trends and issues for 2008, David Wilkening lists the top air travel issues, according to the Air Travelers Association.
  1. The battle with the government over delayed flights versus high fares will continue.
  2. The airline system will continue to operate at or near capacity.
  3. The start of the next generation air traffic control system will again be delayed.
  4. There will be more reports of near collisions in the air and on the ground.
  5. The battle over a passenger's bill of rights versus passenger rights to get to their destination will be ongoing.
  6. Watch for domestic airlines to merge or accept foreign carrier investments.
  7. Expect more regional jets in the future.
  8. There will be continued service problems with airlines and labor unrest.
  9. The Competition Between the Super-Jumbo Airbus A380 versus Super-Nonstop Boeing 787 will begin in 2009.
  10. The Battle Between Residents on the ground over noise and airline passengers in the air will continue.
I'm not sure I understand the first one in the list, as air fares are extremely cheap overall compared to years past. Their are airports with high fares to be sure, but these are generally confined to locations with low volume, and little or no competition, and nothings going to change those circumstances.

If the US government continues to delay implementation of the new air traffic control system, as ATA predicts the consequences will be huge, and will become the overriding cause of a US domestic air transportation system which will dive into complete chaos by the middle of the next decade in my opinion. Personally, I think Congress is beginning to realize this and will not allow it to happen, as it will mean votes.

Based on the model of US Airways, I definitely expect more regional jets in the future as they are so cost effective. The question is however, how far will they fly. I find flights on regional jets having a duration of more than 2.5 hours to be unacceptable, and have switched to flights on standard aircraft at a higher price to avoid them. When Boeing's and Airbus' next generation of planes starts flying, I'm wondering if that will stop, or at least slow down this trend for the longer routes using the regional jets, considering the expected efficiency of the 787 and the A350.

Personally, I think the battle of the A380 and the 787 began long ago. So far the 787 is winning the battle, and its my belief that financially it will win the war, due to the huge cost overruns of the A380. Had that not occurred, things would be vastly different. The problem for the A380 is, and has always been the number of routes that support can support it, versus the 787. Travelers want to fly when the want to fly. For the A380 to fly on very many routes, the number of flights per day between cities will have to substantially shrink, and while that's part of the strength of the A380, it's clearly it's biggest weakness, and problem for Airbus to sell more than 450 of these planes.

Most of the rest of the list is pretty obvious.
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:15 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Ned View Post
I'm not sure I understand the first one in the list, as air fares are extremely cheap overall compared to years past. Their are airports with high fares to be sure, but these are generally confined to locations with low volume, and little or no competition, and nothings going to change those circumstances.

If the US government continues to delay implementation of the new air traffic control system, as ATA predicts the consequences will be huge, and will become the overriding cause of a US domestic air transportation system which will dive into complete chaos by the middle of the next decade in my opinion. Personally, I think Congress is beginning to realize this and will not allow it to happen, as it will mean votes.

Based on the model of US Airways, I definitely expect more regional jets in the future as they are so cost effective. The question is however, how far will they fly. I find flights on regional jets having a duration of more than 2.5 hours to be unacceptable, and have switched to flights on standard aircraft at a higher price to avoid them. When Boeing's and Airbus' next generation of planes starts flying, I'm wondering if that will stop, or at least slow down this trend for the longer routes using the regional jets, considering the expected efficiency of the 787 and the A350.

Personally, I think the battle of the A380 and the 787 began long ago. So far the 787 is winning the battle, and its my belief that financially it will win the war, due to the huge cost overruns of the A380. Had that not occurred, things would be vastly different. The problem for the A380 is, and has always been the number of routes that support can support it, versus the 787. Travelers want to fly when the want to fly. For the A380 to fly on very many routes, the number of flights per day between cities will have to substantially shrink, and while that's part of the strength of the A380, it's clearly it's biggest weakness, and problem for Airbus to sell more than 450 of these planes.

Most of the rest of the list is pretty obvious.
What I think they mean by #1 is the claim of the airlines that the methods to reduce the delays will mean higher fares, such as slot auctions at airports or flight caps.

Congress will probably do something. The problem will be in the implementation of whatever they do. The process will go something like this. Congress votes $5 billion to 'modernize the system' with no specifics. The FAA will 'explore possibilities'. An earmark will then send the money to some contractor in a politician from whom someone needs a favor, regardless of experience with that kind of system (for once, Boeing SHOULD get a contract!). There will be delays, cost overruns, scope. Then, a congressional hearing why the money wasn't spent as THEY intended.

#3 - While I agree with the principle, as I have bemoaned many a time before, people vote with their wallet. As long as a regional jet is $10 cheaper, there won't be the groundswell of outrage needed to change this. The more likely catalyst will be the abovementioned capacity caps if they ever happen.
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