|Those were the days, my friend: aboard Lufthansa in the Fifties.|
For many a flag carrier, glamour and now passenger civility are not the only things which have been jettisoned. Profitability is another thing as national carriers have found it hard to deal with legacy costs, unprofitable routes, and competition from low-cost carriers. Ask Malaysia Airlines. All things considered, things are even worse for European carriers that now find the most unprofitable routes to be those at home:
It appears unionized workers are still hanging on to a bygone age when cutthroat competition did not exist:The biggest airlines across Europe are finding it tricky to make money in their own backyards. Air France-KLM said on Thursday it will transfer a major portion of its European flights to Transavia, a low-cost airline acquired by KLM 11 years ago, as part of a major restructuring aimed at reversing losses on short flights. The same strategy has been adopted in Germany with Lufthansa’s steady shift since 2012 of its European flying from Frankfurt and Munich to its lower-cost Germanwings unit.The shunning of European routes by the global flag carriers reflects the cutthroat nature of fare competition in the continent, where airlines such as EasyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air dominate the short-flight market. Those carriers’ labor costs are substantially lower than at Lufthansa, Air France, and British Airways, which also have routes that don’t touch their hubs. Flying routes off their hubs offers very little revenue upside, says Seth Kaplan, managing partner of industry journal Airline Weekly, and this is one reason U.S. airlines have virtually eliminated flights that don’t involve one of their hubs. “Non-hub, short-haul flying is all a cost game, and that’s a game the true low-cost carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet will always win,” Kaplan says.
These flight-shifting and cost-cutting tactics have infuriated airline employees in Europe, with three pilot strikes against Lufthansa in the past two weeks. Air France, meanwhile, is now bracing for a weeklong pilot strike tentatively set to start on Sept. 15; the airline has urged customers to reschedule their trips. Air France-KLM pilots contend that Transavia cockpit crews should be paid the same as their peers across the company.All I can say to these unionist-dreamers is this: Wake up, those days are gone and they will never come back. Ours is such an unglamorous age in so many ways. I am of two minds about this. Sure you can go to all sorts of places for much lower fares nowadays, but getting there is now such a chore that sometimes you'd rather wish you'd have stayed home.
Way back when, you actually looked forward to traveling to the destination.