Thursday, November 24, 2005

Low Cost Airlines

There is suddenly a spate of launches of Low-Cost Airlines in India. Each Airline claims a fare lower than the lowest. If this really continues soon Air travel will actually be cheaper than walking!! (kidding of course).

I have been thinking about how these airlines continue to survive. Recently, I read about the discussion on how Low Cost Airlines can be viable and it triggered some thoughts.

Actually to look at the viability I believe, we can look at Transport operators (cargo-trucks) model. They have the kind of Hub-&-spoke model that Dr. Krishnan is talking about. In fact the viability of the model actually lies in the hub and spoke mechanism.

For people-carriers though, there are slight problems as they have to break their journey and that consumes time. The viability of these low cost airlines must come from other revenue streams. Air-Cargo offers a good alternative.

I am not actually aware of the percentage of the revenues from Air-Cargo but I know that the local inter-city buses make a significant revenue from transport of cargo. A bus (in India) usually carries around 1-3 tons of cargo in addition to the people and their luggage. This cargo is typically mail and small goods. Similarly, I would expect Air Cargo to actually contribute significantly to the revenues. Typical Air Cargo is Mail (again!) and perishable goods. An airline based on this duel revenue model will most likely survive.

What say?