United, Continental, Delta and American raised many of their domestic fares by USD20 a round trip and cut that increase to USD10 by 28-Mar-2011 due to pressure from US discount carriers (AP/New Mexico Business Weekly, 01-Mar-2011). The carriers have reportedly attempted five broad-based price increases in 2011 with most of them sticking. CEO of FareCompare.com Rick Seaney stated the recent rollback occurred after Southwest, JetBlue, AirTran and Frontier began raising fares only half as much as the larger carriers. Southwest reportedly led the resistance to the fare hike.
US carriers roll back fare increase
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jetBlue Airways, armed with its premium product Mint, is poised to disrupt the trans-Atlantic market
Periodically throughout the last few years jetBlue has hinted that long haul trans-Atlantic flights could be a possibility at some point in its evolution. But in mid-2016 the company took a more concrete step towards serving trans-Atlantic routes by altering its Airbus order book – potentially to support long haul expansion.
JetBlue’s decision to option the Airbus A321LR occurs at a time when airlines such as WestJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle and WOW Air are pushing the low cost model into the long haul international market. Perhaps the steps those airlines are taking to carve out the low cost niche in the long haul space has accelerated jetBlue’s evaluations of trans-Atlantic service. The company has declared that it would make a decision about its options for the long-range Airbus narrowbody in 2017 ahead of the narrowbody’s debut in 2019.
The biggest drivers for jetBlue’s decision to enter the long haul trans-Atlantic market are identifying routes where it can inject low fares to stimulate traffic and drive revenue. The company’s base in Boston is emerging as the epicentre for those potential opportunities.
Southwest Airlines:domestic changes, continued international expansion, as overall 2017 growth slows
Southwest Airlines plans lower system capacity growth in 2017. The company joins other US airlines working feverishly to return to positive unit revenue as oil prices and labour costs are forecast to rise for most of the country’s airlines.
Even as Southwest’s capacity increases are projected to fall year-on-year in 2017 the airline is broadening its international reach with the debut of new flights from Fort Lauderdale, and is making moves in its domestic network.
This includes its decision to launch service from Cincinnati, a market that has attracted significant low cost service during the past two to three years as its hub status for Delta has diminished. Southwest’s service entry at Cincinnati comes at the cost of flights from Akron and Dayton, which is not surprising, given Cincinnati’s potential to garner higher revenue.
Although Southwest cited some positive trends at the end of 2016, it struck a cautious tone about the operating environment in the US, noting that while yields were improving, the revenue environment remains challenging. US airlines, including Southwest, are being closely watched after declaring they will return to positive unit revenue in 1H2017.