Low-cost airlines are no longer low-cost

Ryanair, Eurowings, Wizzair are all perceived as low-cost airliners, but that could be just on paper.

The sky above Germany is increasingly dominated by “affordable” airlines – almost a third of the flights are the so-called “low-cost”. Every week, 4,850 of planes of low-cost airline companies will fly from German airports, which is 1,200 more than last year. This means that the number of passenger seats in their airplanes has increased by 35%, and almost a quarter of them have included more destinations to fly to. At the same time, the number of overseas flights has doubled – from 92 lines last year, to 182 this winter.

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However, a survey conducted by the German Air Transport and Space Flight Centre (DLR) shows hat passengers are increasingly less likely to benefit from using low cost airliners.

As the name suggests, the biggest trump card of the low-cost airline companies should be low price, but, lately, the prices of their tickets have been going up exponentially. The most affordable tickets at the moment are sold by Hungary’s Wizzair, but even they have raised the price of the most affordable plane ticket from 44 to 53 euros, including tax. The most expensive is Germany’s Eurowings which cheapest ticket now costs 117 euros, up from 105 euros from last year. The second most expensive is Ryanair with the average price of the ticket being 79 euros, an increase from 54 euros from last year.

In the DLR analysis, the price increase is interpreted as an “objective factor”. After a period of low global crude oil prices, the price of kerosene has now risen. However, the price hikes are primarily the result of a change in the business strategy. For example, Ryanair was known to fly from local airports, located in remote areas, like Frankfurt–Hahn Airport, which is located 125 kilometres from Frankfurt’s main airport. Now, Ryanair is increasingly using main airports in Germany – from Frankfurt and Munich to Cologne and Bonn airports. Their business logic is clear – their passengers also want to fly from main airports, and despite the tickets costing more, airplanes are now easier to fill.

Another problem is the monopoly: out of a total of 6,520 low-cost flights, 5,683 of them have no alternative since no major airlines are flying to those destinations. This position allows low-cost carriers to dictate both the price and the (relatively low) quality of services. For instance, there is only one airline flying the 751 route, there is another carrier that flies to the same destination, while you can choose between three or more carriers on only 86 routes, as these are, of course, the most popular destinations, such as London, Dublin or vacation resorts in Spain.

When they moved their departures from remote to main airports, Germany’s Eurowings, a daughter company of Lufthansa, came under heavy criticism. Also, the company was criticised for its disastrous attitude towards the passengers. In mid-June, they had delays that lasted not hours but days. Namely, the ten of the 77 planes that Eurowings had inherited after acquiring Air Berlin should have already started to fly, but they are nowhere to be seen. Lufthansa said that it was a transient technical problems in registration to blame, whatever that meant.

Eurowings is certainly a good example of how low-cost airliners want to achieve success at all costs, regardless of how much that affects their passengers.

(B92, 20.06.2018)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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