Budget Airlines - How They Operate
When air travel started in the 20th century it was very expensive. Only the rich people could afford travelling by plane. As time went on better planes were built. They were faster, quieter and could carry more people over longer distances. Flying was slowly becoming a means of transportation that normal people could afford.
Into the 60s and 70s many airlines kept selling expensive tickets to their passengers. They offered a comfortable way of travelling which included free meals, friendly service and other luxuries. In the 1980s a new type of airline emerged. Budget airlines offered tickets that were much cheaper than those of other carriers. They manage this by cutting costs wherever they can.
Running an airline is an expensive business. The biggest cost is the plane itself. Average passenger jets cost around $50 million to $100 million, larger planes can cost up to $300 million and more.
Pilots cost a lot of money too. A pilot with ten years of experience may get a salary of $100,000 and more. Fuel costs cannot be calculated so easily because they change a lot depending on whether or not oil prices are up or down.
Many other factors raise the costs of operating an airplane, for example the number of seats that are empty. If you don't sell all of the tickets the airline is not making the best possible profit.
How budget airlines cut costs
One of the ways that airlines can reduce their costs is by buying fuel at the right time. If they buy kerosene when it is cheap they may be able to save millions of dollars. Another way of cutting expenses is to use only one kind of airplane. This saves money on maintenance, repairs and training pilots.
Many budget airlines chose smaller airports to take off and land. A big airport like New York JFK or London Heathrow charges airlines higher fees. Low cost carriers like Ryan Air choose to take their passengers to London Stansted instead of Heathrow. In some cases airlines choose airports that lie between two bigger cities.
Airlines do many other things to cut costs. Many offer only one class of seats. They don't have a business class. Some of them do not reserve seats, so passengers can sit wherever they want. They also save on the number of crew members. A lot of money can be saved by selling tickets on their own website instead of through a travel agent. Many airlines try to stay on the ground as little as possible. After landing, the plane is refueled and takes off a short time later.
Many budget airlines only offer the real flight. You have to pay for onboard food and drinks. Recently Ryan Air has thought about even charging a toilet fee for its passengers.
Are budget airlines safe?
A lot of people do not want to fly with budget airlines because they think they are unsafe. However, this is not true. In many cases low cost carriers have modern fleets. They know that cutting costs on safety may drive them out of the business. And indeed many budget carriers have a very good safety record.
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- afford = have enough money to by something
- airlines = a company that takes passengers from one place to another by plane
- average = not the biggets and not the smallest, but middle
- budget airline = an airline that sells cheaper tickets because it cuts costs
- calculate =to find out how much something will cost
- carrier =airline
- century = a hundred years
- charge = to ask for money
- cut = reduce
- depend on = affected by
- distance = from one place to another
- emerge = to come up, appear
- empty = here: if nobody sits in it
- expenses = the money you spend on something
- experience = practice
- factor = element
- fee = the money you get for a service
- fleet = a group of planes that belong to one airline
- fuel = here: the liquid that is use to make the plane move
- however = but
- include= to make something a part of something else
- indeed = in fact, in reality
- kerosene = the petrol that airlines use to fly
- little = not much
- low cost carrier = budget airline
- luxury = comfort
- manage = do
- means of transportation = a way of travelling
- onboard = carried on a plane
- profit = income, earning, money
- raise = to move up
- recently = lately
- refuel = to fill up the tank with fuel, then take off again
- safety = not in danger
- salary = the money you get every month when you work
- travel agent = a company that organizes plane tickets and hotel rooms for people who want to travel