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Frontier to celebrate ULCC transition with an IPO: intensity grows in the US competitive landscape
After toying with the idea of engaging in an initial public offering for more than year, the US ULCC Frontier Airlines now intends to go public as its major shareholder, ULCC specialist Indigo Partners, sets its sights on Argentina. Frontier has arrived at and passed many ULCC milestones, including producing unit costs excluding fuel below the USD6 cent benchmark for the ULCC model, placing it on par with its fellow ULCCs Spirit Airlines and Allegiant.
Frontier markets its product differently from other US ULCCs, giving passengers the options to purchase product in a bundled form or a la carte, but it still maintains ultra low fares. However, Frontier couldn’t escape the pricing pressure that permeated the US market in 2016, joining the majority of the country’s airlines in posting distinct yield and unit revenue declines.
Obviously, despite the pricing pressure and changing dynamics in the US market, Frontier remains bullish on the opportunities for ULCCs in the market place, concluding that numerous markets exist for it to operate profitably with low fares.
During the past several years Frontier’s network focus has been somewhat murky. Now Frontier’s network strategy is targeting high fare, underserved routes. And like its rival Spirit, Frontier also singles out medium sized markets that offer some protection from larger competitors.
Finnair and TAP Portugal: their location based long haul niche strategies compared
Both Finnair and TAP are based in peripheral corners of Europe: Finnair in the extreme northeast and TAP in the southwest. Both are based in countries with relatively small populations, but they have developed networks that capitalise on their geographic location to carry connecting traffic from across Europe and elsewhere to long haul destinations in other continents.
TAP's main long haul market is Upper South America (primarily Brazil), but it also has a secondary long haul niche in Africa. Finnair's main long haul market is Northeast Asia, with an additional presence in South and Southeast Asia. Both also operate to the US. On short haul, LCC competition has been a bigger threat to TAP than to Finnair, but cost savings are important to both.
TAP and Finnair have similar traffic volumes, unit costs and average trip lengths. Moreover, both have struggled to generate sustainable profitability. This report compares and contrasts Europe's two leading independent exponents of the location based long haul niche strategy. Both are set to accelerate their long haul growth.