Weather Whims

Composite Photo (JB)
Composite Photo (JB)

Air Berlin reports 86.6% load factor only for July, thanks to the weather, the last minute passengers were missing.

Ryanair and Easyjet report “only” 1-2% growth in ticket sales for July

Norwegian growth – I am sure they did not have as much “impact” of the hot summer weather as we had in Central/West Europe.

In general, I hear that many travel agencies complained about the lowered interest during this record hot July – do we call it a centenary summer again?

Despite the fact, I currently work on Winter Operations again, preparing for my presentation at WinterOps.ca. And I just happen to think about the Eyjafjallajökull and its impact to European flights in 2010.

What this shows again (in my believe) is the impact of weather to airline flight management.

Airports operate at the limits of their slots. But what are those slots based on? Good weather? Seasonality? Winter Season (in Europe) goes from End October to March, just covering the worst period and enabling the airports to reduce their flight movements. Though why people would fly less in winter remains beyond me, I appreciate to leave the ugly rainfall at home for a week in the sun – and business travel is mostly reduced during July/August – the summer holidays.

All it does tell is the missing understanding of airline management. No matter if summer or winter, if sunny or cold, the aircraft has to fly. Preferably fully booked at good prices. If you only sell in summer, you need to ask higher prices as you have to cover your losses during fall, winter and spring… If you need to do that, your prices are likely not competitive.

Sky Airlines started first to build a German subsidiary with the original idea to utilize the fleet from Germany to the Canary Islands or Egypt in Winter, when travel between Germany and Turkey is low. Whereas the same question about utilization sure also applies to the hotels in the regions.

Image ©2010 Flughafen Zürich
Image ©2010 Flughafen Zürich

So yeah, that’s why I do address WinterOps and see tools such as the one developed by delair as important for airlines. To increase the “throughput” during “adverse weather”.

Zurich Airport reported a record season last winter: 75% more de-icing than in the previous winter season. 33% more than in the last record winter 2003/04.  At the same time worse snow, the usage of “type 4” increasing from 30 to 41% (compared to type 1). And punctuality dropped only marginally to 75.3% from 79.1% in the previous year. This should be a major wake-up-call not as much for the airports as for the airlines! Because it reflects that hundreds of flights less had to be cancelled or delayed. Given the ability of Zurich to forecast the development by several hours, giving the airlines time to prepare, inform the passengers and thus minimize the impact. The airlines should be demanding such technology at the airports they fly to and from of even finance it themselves.

But WinterOps aside, the recent reports also show how dependent airlines to date are on the weather. Given the little profit margins they control, a “hot summer” can be hopp or topp for a route or even an airline. All yield management can fail when weather is involved. And yes, doesn’t that remind me of the “fog hole” at Stuttgart-Echterdingen…

Just some

Food for Thought

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