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Observations of fundamental changes in the demand for aviation services

Keith J. Mason

Journal of Air Transport Management, 2005, vol. 11, issue 1, 19-25

Abstract: This paper addresses the seemingly inexorable decline in yield in the airline industry. The external shocks to the industry of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, wars in Afghanistan and the Arabian Gulf and SARS all had downward impacts on the demand for air travel. However, these effects mask a more fundamental change in the demand for aviation services. The analysis uses published sources and a survey of 264 travellers to examine the fall in yields. The traffic mix of economy, business and first class passengers is shown to have changed over a 10year period as proportionally more travellers choose to use economy class products. This combined with a fall in yield by a third in this cabin during the same period has lead to a significant fall in industrywide yields. Behavioural shifts in business travel and leisure demand are examined. Business travellers have switched from business class products as the difference between business class and leisure fares have increased significantly and as economy class and low-cost carrier products are increasingly viewed as acceptable for business traveller needs, particularly in short-haul markets. Leisure travel has increased as low-cost carriers have introduced low fares, generating new traffic and winning market share from scheduled and charter airline competitors alike.

Date: 2005
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