Route development decisions are highly complex and can take years to deliver from first contact. Based on a range of formulas that differ from airline to airline, across business models and using a range of forensic data and analytical insight techniques, they can be complicated to fully understand. It is not as simple as a scientific formula combining route demand forecasts, marketing support by airports and destination stakeholders and other parameters and changes by the day just as airline business models continue to evolve.
The key element of any new route development still remains the economic case. If the new service is unlikely to make money, then it won’t last long. Airlines will have an idea of the likely costs and revenues for any new service and increasingly the structure and level of airport charges are a core part of new route negotiations – whether that is incentives, discounts, route support or risk sharing.
While in the past airlines would happily stand losses on a new route for a couple of years while it matured into profit or to support its wider network, airlines now seek almost immediate success and even have the expectation that an airport will share the pain of giving birth to a new service. Sustainability and profitability have ultimately become the two key terms that are now central to any network growth decision
It is therefore quite refreshing to see German low cost carrier Eurowings give the power to the people and let them select a new summer 2018 destination for the carrier from its Cologne/Bonn base. But, what in principle appears an innovative bit of fun via social media channels, is actually part of a well thought out marketing campaign that will boost its profile in the route development community and at the same time help the airline better engage with the travelling public.
The ‘you vote, we fly’ route development concept launched by Eurowings this week provides the public with ten shortlisted destinations to select for summer 2018 growth from Cologne/Bonn. They offer ten 30 second videos of the ten proposed destinations, each offering three reasons to fly their and ask the public to “vote for your favourite destination” with the most-voted destination becoming part of its summer 2018 schedule.
The airline is naturally already securing significant media attention to the process especially from press at each of the ten destinations. The shortlisted destinations and airports are even already taking to social media to promote their involvement, examples including Belfast International Airport, Biarritz Airport, Shannon Airport
— Belfast Airport (@BelfastAirport) October 4, 2017
— Aéroport de Biarritz (@aeroportbiq) October 5, 2017
— Shannon Airport (@ShannonAirport) October 5, 2017
Eurowings has obviously done its homework on all of the shortlisted destinations and will therefore not have any concerns about launching flights on any of the routes, albeit it will have its preferred winner and will ultimately deliver a flight schedule that matches demand.
“‘You vote, we fly’ shows yet again how close we are to our customers,” says Oliver Wagner, chief executive officer and chief commercial officer, Eurowings. “Our customers are going to decide where we should fly to – no other airline has ever done this.”
As this article went live on The Blue Swan Daily site, Mostar in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina was leading the way with a 33.1% share of the vote ahead of Trapani in western Sicily (28.9%) and Castellon de la Plana in Spain (14.0%) and then Belfast in Northern Ireland (10.7%).
Eurowings will finally incorporate the activities of Germanwings into its own from the end of March 2018 as all the former ‘4U’ flying is brought under the ‘EW’ code. The realignment of the Eurowings operation and the closure of the Germanwings brand makes growth comparisons difficult, but schedule data for the current week shows its network is mainly based on markets served at less than daily frequencies.
CHART – The Eurowings network currently consists of over 120 destinations, most of which are served on a less than daily frequency – 70 routes have single weekly frequencies and 66 routes just twice daily frequencies for the week commencing 02-Oct-2017Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG