After a tense introduction and subsequent cancelation of African budget airline FlyAfrica’s Windhoek-Jo’burg and Windhoek-Cape Town routes, Namibians seemingly lost hope for any new airlines entering the Namib airspace. Until now, when big wigs KLM, Qatar and Ethiopian announced weekly routes to Windhoek
For the avid traveler, this meant competition and thus better prices. But the question remains, Why Windhoek? A city with less than half a million inhabitants and less than 100 weekly inbound and outbound flights, why? Especially since Luanda is building a state of the art airport next door and O R Tambo being the Sub-Saharan Hub.
Point-to-point commercial aviation.
The airline industry has typically stuck to and remained true for the hub-to-hub commercial aviation concept which works well, however this concept has a few flows which I will explain.
Generally, a hub is a big airport in a popular city or destination which airlines use to link customers to code sharing partners or other flights which already have regular routes to other destinations. For example, if Neumbo wanted to fly from Windhoek to Manchester with Air Namibia, he would have to fly to Frankfurt first then switch to code sharing partner Lufthansa from Frankfurt to London then he’d have to switch again to British Airways or EasyJet to go to Manchester, and this is where the issues start;
- Neumbo would have to go through 2 Hubs (FRA and LHR) before reaching his destination.
- Four airports instead of just two and more airport taxes, which we all know is where the bulk of your ticket goes.
- Long layovers and multiple customs and immigration check points.
- He’d probably fly on huge air crafts such as Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 which means more staff more fuel and more costs.
And this is where the Dreamliner comes in, this revolutionary airplane was launched in 2009 with the first delivery in 2011. The purpose was to provide airlines with longer range flights but similar economy to that of regional airplanes like the titan, Boeing 737. This airplane basically changed the industry overnight. Commercial aviation algorithms now see point-to-point routes as more profitable, even with fewer passengers per flight. Especially if they will be taking-off and landing on smaller cheaper airports such as Hosea Kutako.
In my analogy, if Neumbo wanted to go Manchester, all he’ll have to do is get on a flight from Windhoek to Amsterdam and then take EasyJet from Amsterdam to Manchester.
The algorithm is far more complicated than I am trying to convey but it works on the principle that low cost budget airlines such as Ryian Air, EasyJet and well, FlyAfrica have been on for years; Reduce costs, Fly to more destinations, Use cheaper airports and fly as often as possible. This increases profits over time per airplane per route rather than per passenger per flight.