United’s increased leisure focus and Finnair’s frequency cuts show airlines are being nimble with their networks to meet spikes in demand – this approach could prove beneficial for when business demand bounces back
It has never been more challenging for airlines to plan their flight schedules than it is today. The historic data that had underpinned many of the route cases for new air services over the past years is no longer relevant. It may not be as bad as throwing a dart at a map and hoping for the best, it can feel a little like that right now.
The biggest positive is that there is an excess capacity and airlines have the resources to quickly deploy aircraft if they want. Even last year the availability of a single new aircraft resulted in a fight amongst airports to secure new connectivity. Now, airlines are finding it hard to find markets that can support their aircraft and means a high proportion of the world’s fleet remains grounded – for larger widebodies that may stretch to years, potentially forever.
Airlines are showing a much more nimble approach when it comes to flight schedules. This is perhaps more notably emphasised in the actions of US major United Airlines which this week has added a number of new winter leisure flights adding service “to destinations where customers most want to fly”.
The concern is that while sentiment studies seem to illustrate that business confidence is higher, it is not necessarily translating to an increase in business flying, while an increasing number of countries have or are set to impose new travel restrictions that is further influencing demand levels.
Worryingly, from the corporate travel perspective, the decision by the airlines to bank more heavily on the leisure market highlights a much deeper concern over the return of business travel, which currently remains significantly subdued. But, it also offers a bright future as demand returns and shows that airlines can – and will – act quickly to support corporate demand as soon as it arises from its Covid sleep.
READ MORE via The Blue Swan Daily: United’s increased leisure focus and Finnair’s frequency cuts show airlines are being nimble with their networks to meet spikes in demand – this approach could prove beneficial for when business demand bounces back