For the past three days I’ve attended the annual Aviation Forecast Summit. It’s a good place to get a reality check. Fortunately, cruel reality is tempered by the lush, rolling hills of the Kentucky countryside––this year’s summit is in Lexington.
The summit is a meeting of minds from airlines, airports and airplane makers. And, oh yes, an aviation analyst or two. Here are some of the thoughts, observations and predictions I've heard at the summit that you might find interesting (in no particular order):
- The business slide, experienced by most airlines, is starting to slow, if not reverse itself. This is good news for the airlines, bad news for you. Why? Because fares have no where to go but up. That’s because the recession forced airlines to cut back on the number of seats in the air. As the recession improves, and more people start to fly, the supply of seats will be small. That will give airlines “the traction” they need to raise fares.
- What is an “environmentally sustainable alternative?”
- 25% of all domestic U.S. flights “are driven directly, or indirectly, by international travel.”
- In the near future you may not book fare on a particular airline––you’ll book fare with an “alliance”. See: oneworld, SkyTeam, and the Star Alliance. These alliances are groups of airlines that share resources (to you and me this means "code share"). The thinking goes like this: the individual airlines will become anonymous, “virtual airlines.” Only the alliances will matter. Airlines that are not part of an alliance will suffer.
- Most airlines are currently selling seats below cost.
- Kevin Knight, senior vice president of planning, with United Airlines, says when the airline started charging for checked bags, it experienced little customer pushback. Bottom line message: bags fees are here to stay.