Carriers Increasingly Picky About Where They Fly

Choosing routes is a complex, time-consuming task that ultimately boils down to figuring out which flights will be profitable.


Sometimes an airline has many promising markets but not enough new planes to capitalize on the opportunities. In those cases, it's about choosing the best possible routes and flights, leaving some opportunities on the table. Market conditions can also change for the worse from the time a carrier orders a plane to the time it's delivered. Last year, several airlines were forced to quickly reallocate planes and change plans for new jets after hurricanes severely damaged New Orleans and Cancun.

Given the complications involved, airlines often make the wrong decisions when it comes to their routes. More than 160 airlines have filed for bankruptcy during the past two decades, and several are on the verge of failing.

The key, analysts say, is to admit - and correct - mistakes quickly.

Airlines also must avoid making decisions based on emotion and personal preferences, a major pitfall that has doomed other carriers.

"It is an economic analysis, but the problem is that there's also an ego factor at many airlines," said Stuart Klaskin, a Miami- based aviation consultant. "That's when a CEO says something like we need to have a presence in the Denver-to-London market even if it loses money because everyone else has it. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that. It's one of the biggest mistakes an airline can make."

(E-mail Chris Walsh at walshc@RockyMountainNews.com.)

(Contact Chris Walsh of the Rocky Mountain News at www.rockymountainnews.com.)



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