Why are low-cost airlines such big money makers? | Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous article, low-cost airlines are such massive money makers, but why? Join me as I take a look into the big names including Southwest, Ryanair and EasyJet.

Southwest Airlines to start unblocking middle seats for holiday travel
Credit: nbcnews.com
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Always flying

One of the biggest things you have to understand about low-cost airlines is that they’re all different. Ryanair is noticeably the most different but the others have their subtleties, with Southwest being one of these. Airlines want to fly non-stop, 24/7, meaning that their planes are only on the ground for an average of 30-45 minutes, often causing delays. Ever wondered why Ryanair’s landings are so hard instead of smooth, it’s rumoured that this is because Ryanair wants to get the plane on the ground quicker, meaning they make more money from flying time. Southwest airlines in the US uses the first-come-first-serve policy for its seating. This means that the first person who gets to the gate gets to pick their seats. This ensures that passengers get to their gate almost always ahead of departure time so that they can get a good seat.

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Whilst a British airways plane might fly from London to Copenhagen and back twice a day, A Southwest flight could fly a flight of the same distance 6 times a day, if not more. These airlines are always flying, and whilst it may cost 15 dollars for a flight onboard Ryanair, the airline is still making as much money as the big airlines that used to dominate the market. Ryanair has a profit market of around 25% whilst BA only has a profit margin of around 7%.

British Airways Boeing 777 Pilots Got Sick as Cockpit Starved of Air: AIIB  Report
British airways only has a profit margin of around 7%
Credit: nbcnews.com
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Buying planes

When it comes to buying planes, low-cost airlines like EasyJet have a trick up their sleeve. They bulk-buy planes because it’s cheaper. In the months after 9/11, low-cost airlines saw it as their opportunity to buy lots of planes seen as Airbus and Boeing needed people to buy them. Low-cost airlines much prefer to have a younger fleet, because they are more efficient meaning less money for fuel. Now, when it comes to the environment, the newer the plane the more eco-friendly it is, meaning this is also great for their PR.

Coronavirus: EasyJet grounds entire fleet of planes due to virus - BBC News
Easyjet’s average fleet age in 2016 was 4 years
Credit: bbc.com
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Social Media

Whilst more traditional airlines like British Airways and Air France-KLM like to play it safe with their social media, often only posting to tempt passengers to destinations, low-cost airlines do exactly the opposite. In the UK, Ryanair is being very rebellious on social media by posting memes mocking the UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson, and insulting other airlines. The truth is, Ryanair can afford to do this seen as most of their passengers are students who are likely to find this funny. Traditional airlines are scared to bewilder in their thinking for fear that they lose their passengers.

A Brief History of Ryanair's First-ever Flight | Airways Magazine
Ryanair continues to be very active on social media
Credit: airwaysmag.com
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Sources

  • wikipedia.com
  • forbes.com
  • Wendover productions on YouTube
  • cnbc.com (Cover image)
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Published by Sam Jakobi (Sam the Avgeek)

I am a young Avgeek who has been interested in aviation since the age of around 3 or 4. I run a very small youtube channel in which I review flights and explain common things in the aviation industry.

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