- CAPA Analysis
- Schedule Analysis
- Route Maps
- US Route Data
- Annual Reports
- Form 41
- Print Summary
Founded in 1992 as ‘Valujet’ and changing to its present name in 1997, Orlando-based AirTran is an American low-cost carrier with hubs in Atlanta, Milwaukee, Baltimore and Orlando. AirTran has a major presence in eastern and mid-western US markets, as well as a growing presence in the Caribbean. The airline is one of the largest operators of Boeing 717 aircraft in the world and is among the largest LCCs in the USA.
Location of AirTran main hub (Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport)
LCCs will continue to evolve into hybrids of the original core model. CAPA and OAG consider AirTran fits the LCC profile and it is included in our reporting on this basis. Please note: when reporting for an airline is changed from or to LCC the historical data is not affected and it can lead to a distortion in the current reported data. Contact us if you have any queries.
812 total articles
141 total articles
Underlying JetBlue’s recent headline grabbing release of its new premium product that includes semi-private suites, is a network strategy and expansion that continues unabated, resting on the pillars of expanding from Boston, Fort Lauderdale and its strategic base and headquarters of New York JFK.
The latest round of market additions adhere to the carrier’s stated goals of broadening its reach into the Caribbean as Trinidad and Tobago is added to its growing network in the region. At the same time, JetBlue’s milestone 50th destination from its ever-important Boston base is Savannah, Georgia, a largely leisure destination which presently is served by US majors with regional jets to their large hubs.
With the planned new service to Savannah, Port of Spain and Port Au Prince, JetBlue is taking a three-pronged approach, serving all those markets from its strategic bases – most notably Fort Lauderdale, a market JetBlue is growing as a launch pad for strengthened service to the Caribbean.
Up-gauging of its fleet and near-term economic pressures are dampening Southwest Airlines’ expectations for the rest of the year as executives believe US budget cuts, a looming deficit battle and rising taxes have resulted in an economic climate in the US that was worse than the carrier expected.
Southwest’s continuing integration with AirTran is also making its performance for the rest of the year difficult to predict as new markets spool up and work is continuing to optimise the combined networks. The carrier is getting some push-back related to its core performance; but still believes its same store sales are performing up to expectations.
Given its weaker than expected performance during 1H2013, Southwest is beginning to issue warnings that hitting its ambitious 15% return on invested capital (ROIC) for 2013 is growing unlikely after the carrier missed that target in 2012.
Consolidation - and route reductions and higher fares - in the US market place are creating opportunities for the new breed of ultra low-cost carriers (ULCCs) led by Spirit Airlines, which set out on a path in 2006 to achieve unit costs among the lowest in the market. As Southwest’s costs are beginning to mirror those posted by legacy carriers, Spirit is leading the charge to capture traffic the soon-to-be three big full service network carriers no longer find attractive.
Capacity reductions that have resulted from both consolidation and a revamping of the airline business in North America have also created three distinct business models in the region – full service network carriers, hybrids and ultra low-cost airlines. Strong contenders have emerged in each category. The remaining carriers either need to carve out a new niche or adapt to the new maturity taking hold in the market place.
Recently Southwest CEO Gary Kelly declared the carrier has been, “a disruptive force for five decades”. But while the company has taken great care to preserve its pioneering low-cost and low-fare image (neither of which still neatly applies), full service carriers have fundamentally changed their businesses - at the same time as ultra low-cost airlines and hybrid carriers have structurally evolved the business model on which Southwest has built its legend.
As the strict adherence to Southwest’s simple low-cost carrier playbook has been abandoned by the new breed of hybrid carriers that began making their marks during the early to mid-2000s, Southwest has undergone its own subtle transformation, albeit on its own terms. The downside of maintaining a pioneering image is the constraints it sometimes creates in attempting to alter outdated elements of a business.
Southwest’s influence in the respective evolving airline business models – revamped full service carriers, hybrid airlines and ultra low-cost operators – has arguably been diminished as its conservative approach has resulted in the carrier moving slowly to embrace new approaches to its business. Southwest as a consequence will be less disruptive in the coming decades as it works to determine where it falls in a US market place which may be about to reach a new level of maturity as the mergers creating three large network carriers take full effect.
Three of the major US carriers are expressing dissimilar views of their respective forecasts for 2Q2013 as Delta believes it could again achieve record results for the quarter after posting its first profitable quarter in a decade during 1Q2013. United has a more neutral view of the current operating environment, and is remaining more tight lipped about its prospects for 2Q while Southwest is expressing a cautious outlook as it is stimulating passengers at the expense of suffering weaker yields.
Those carriers offer their differing views as industry trade group Airlines For America (A4A) estimates a slight uptick in passenger growth during the summer high season from Jun-2013 through Aug-2013. Most airlines for the first two months of 2Q2013 recorded declines in unit revenues, which could indicate some challenges in gaining pricing traction. But the upside in fuel prices generally remains lower year-on-year and should help soften the fall in revenues.
The somewhat-hyped acquisition by start-up PEOPLExpress of charter carrier XTRA Airways may accelerate the carrier’s long overdue market entry, but it will do little to improve PEOPLExpress’ odds of survival in a US market place that now revolves around three distinct business models – ultra low-cost, hybrid and full-service network carriers.
PEOPLExpress’ declaration that it would retain the XTRA brand and its charter services only clouds its already murky business plan, which should give rational, would-be investors pause as the carrier has done little to crystallise its vision other than buying a smaller carrier in order to obtain an operating certificate after overestimating the time and effort entailed in gaining approval from the US FAA.