It has been a memorable week, that week, exactly 50 years ago: One of the most influential movies ever saw its release, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, which I believe is still a fascinating experience after a dozen views over the years. It might as well be said that it is one of the few films that helped influence and even change history – if you want to learn more, read the mind-blowing “Almost Everything in Dr. Strangelove Was True” posted by Eric Schlosser in The New Yorker on 23 January this year.
Also last week in February 1964: the Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck had finished, the Beatles had arrived in America, making hundreds of youngsters scream during the Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February; and my mom had told my dad she was expecting another baby due in September… – more on that subject later in the year – now, let’s travel forward in time 50 years and have a look at a busy week in aviation, with the advent of one virtual carrier, the failure of another, and the announcement of a third to commence operations in March.
“Virtual airline” describes a high degree of outsourcing, including the inherent Air Operator’s Certificate, – in other words, the specialist’s marriage of a strong distributor without production to a highly efficient producer with a rather light trademark. But why is this particular airline type growing so volatile recently? Reason might be that the established carriers on the one side, with the start-ups on the other, have left a void in-between.
More likely, it has to do with the route structure: ever since the LCC boom, numerous new routes had been established, many of them ceased meanwhile, also, various historic routes – mainly served by commuter carriers – have been abandoned. The total number of routes once served now offline must have grown rapidly, posting the question if not one or the other needs fresh initiative. Hard facts on these routes will have to include proper market analysis (historic and actual), the right product, approach and timing. Protest against the withdrawal and jumping on the opportunity alone probably won’t suffice, unless one’s blessed by extraordinary luck.
One of the vanguards of European low cost carriers had begun in virtual style some 18 years ago, successful time, markets, and a name found – easily.
“The middle of the road is where the white line is – and that’s the worst place to drive.” (Robert Frost).