There’s hardly anything in the world that some man cannot produce a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people that consider price only are this man’s lawful prey”, goes an old saying that can be traced to a letter to the Advertiser’s Trade Journal in Edwardian times.
I’m not about to accuse the aviation industry of cutting costs, but the result of running everything to the tightest possible margin means that there is absolutely no wiggle room when something goes wrong, which ends up costing the airlines time, money and goodwill and suddenly the money ‘saved’ through ultra-lean practices doesn’t look so great after all.
Consider Wizz having to decimate its capacity due to the ongoing maintenance issues with the GTF engine, and that is far from the only carrier affected. easyJet had to cut its schedule because of airspace problems earlier in the summer.
There are also problems on the ground that have nothing to do with the airlines. The breakdown at UK air traffic control back in August lasted only for a couple of hours and was immediately substituted with a manual system but, because of a total lack of capacity in the paired-back, privatised system, it ended up costing the industry millions.
There are signs that the industry is moving away from the ultra-low-cost model. Prices on all LCCs are up compared with pre-pandemic levels and even Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said in an interview in September that he felt fares were currently “too cheap” and that they must rise to meet the current realities of the aviation industry.
Lean, efficient management is here to stay, and the business of airlines large and small has been helped by these modern practices, but in my opinion the days of race-to-the-bottom giveaway fares must be at an end. However, I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this matter. Don’t be shy, drop me a note at the address below and let me know your views.