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Old Apr 27, 12, 8:03 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,514
January 2012 T100's

Here are the onboard loads for Frontier's eastern division for January 2012, as well as some select competitors. Remember, as always, that loads are only half the picture when it comes to judging relative performance as they say lnothing about fare or traffic composition.

Markets primarily served by Airbus or EJet
92.0% ….. MKE ….. BOS (ended early January)
90.3% ….. MKE ….. MCO
88.8% ….. MKE ….. LAS
85.3% ….. MKE ….. DEN
85.1% ….. OMA ….. MCO
84.1% ….. MSN ….. MCO
82.9% ….. MKE ….. FLL
81.0% ….. MKE ….. RSW
75.6% ….. MKE ….. PHX
75.5% ….. MCI ….. LAS
71.8% ….. MKE ….. LGA
70.4% ….. MKE ….. DFW
70.2% ….. MCI ….. MCO
69.9% ….. MCI ….. RSW
68.8% ….. MKE ….. DCA
67.1% ….. OMA ….. TPA
67.1% ….. DSM ….. MCO
66.5% ….. MKE ….. PHL
63.0% ….. MCI ….. SEA
61.1% ….. MCI ….. LAX
60.4% ….. MKE ….. MCI
59.5% ….. MCI ….. MSY
57.4% ….. MCI ….. HOU
55.8% ….. MCI ….. AUS
55.4% ….. OMA ….. DCA
53.5% ….. MCI ….. DCA
51.9% ….. MCI ….. SFO
49.3% ….. MCI ….. LGA
43.6% ….. MCI ….. BOS
43.5% ….. DSM ….. TPA
34.0% ….. MSN ….. DCA
24.7% ….. GRR ….. DCA

Markets primarily served by RJ
79.1% ….. MKE ….. PIT (ended earily January)
75.6% ….. MKE ….. BNA
72.1% ….. MKE ….. IND
71.6% ….. MKE ….. EWR
64.6% ….. MKE ….. GRR
60.9% ….. MKE ….. RHI
60.8% ….. MKE ….. OMA
57.4% ….. MKE ….. CMH
53.7% ….. MKE ….. FNT
24.1% ….. MKE ….. MBL


AirTran Milwaukee
93.1% ….. MKE ….. FLL
87.8% ….. MKE ….. MCO
85.7% ….. MKE ….. LAS
81.4% ….. MKE ….. RSW
78.5% ….. MKE ….. MSP
74.2% ….. MKE ….. SFO
73.3% ….. MKE ….. PHX
71.5% ….. MKE ….. SEA
71.3% ….. MKE ….. TPA
68.7% ….. MKE ….. LAX
68.6% ….. MKE ….. MSY
66.0% ….. MKE ….. LGA
63.3% ….. MKE ….. SRQ
61.4% ….. MKE ….. ATL
60.9% ….. MKE ….. BOS
51.5% ….. MKE ….. DCA
47.2% ….. MKE ….. CAK
42.2% ….. MKE ….. DSM
41.1% ….. MKE ….. DEN
38.4% ….. MKE ….. BWI

Southwest Milwaukee
69.3% ….. MKE ….. PHX
68.8% ….. MKE ….. LAS
56.5% ….. MKE ….. DEN
55.8% ….. MKE ….. MCO
55.1% ….. MKE ….. BWI
54.6% ….. MKE ….. MCI
54.0% ….. MKE ….. TPA
45.4% ….. MKE ….. STL
40.7% ….. MKE ….. FLL

Delta Kansas City
67.8% ….. MCI …… LAX
66.7% ….. MCI …… MSY
49.1% ….. MCI …… BOS
47.6% ….. MCI …… LGA
38.2% ….. MCI …… AUS

Denver hopefully later...

Last edited by knope2001; Apr 29, 12 at 7:19 pm.. Reason: cmh error in mainline list
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Old Apr 27, 12, 8:57 pm   #2
 
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Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
75.5% ….. MCI ….. LAS
63.0% ….. MCI ….. SEA
61.1% ….. MCI ….. LAX
51.9% ….. MCI ….. SFO
MCI westbound flights upgraded to Airbus, changed to less-than-daily, and (generally) not timed for feed from Milwaukee...formerly the strongest feed to/from the west at Kansas City.



Quote:
Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
49.3% ….. MCI ….. LGA
43.6% ….. MCI ….. BOS
MCI-BOS 33.2% (left 7:00am -- no feed)
BOS-MCI 54.1% (arrived early afternoon, allowing connections west)

The one MCI-LGA-MCI trip upgraded to Airbus ran a similar schedule:
MCI-LGA 29.2% (left about 7:30am -- no feed)
LGA-MCI 54.5% (arrived early afternoon, allowing connections west)



Quote:
Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
34.0% ….. MSN ….. DCA
24.7% ….. GRR ….. DCA
First month of service, and starting in the dead of winter is unsurprisingly weak. Madison did better than Grand Rapids early on.

DCA-GRR and GRR-DEN segments
34.1 onboard passengers
14.5 local pax to/from GRR
19.6 thru passengers to/from DEN

DCA-MSN and MSN-DCA
46.8 onboard passengers
32.8 local pax to/from MSN
14.0 thru passengers to/from DEN


Quote:
Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
Markets primarily served by RJ
79.1% ….. MKE ….. PIT (ended earily January)
75.6% ….. MKE ….. BNA
72.1% ….. MKE ….. IND
71.6% ….. MKE ….. EWR
64.6% ….. MKE ….. GRR
60.9% ….. MKE ….. RHI
60.8% ….. MKE ….. OMA
57.4% ….. MKE ….. CMH
53.7% ….. MKE ….. FNT
24.1% ….. MKE ….. MBL

In case anyone happens to go back to the source data, you may notice that Chautauqua reported nearly everything at MKE as 37-seat RJ's (except Omaha, for some reason). In fact the ER3 flew MBL and RHI-IWD, plus a single daily FNT flight. I adjusted these for the real 50-seat capacity actually flown.


Quote:
Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
AirTran Milwaukee
93.1% ….. MKE ….. FLL
87.8% ….. MKE ….. MCO
85.7% ….. MKE ….. LAS
71.3% ….. MKE ….. TPA


Southwest Milwaukee
68.8% ….. MKE ….. LAS
55.8% ….. MKE ….. MCO
54.0% ….. MKE ….. TPA
40.7% ….. MKE ….. FLL
The sharp difference in loads between AirTran and Southwest are in large part due to connecting feed versus no connecting feed. Southwest took over many flights to these destinations in January, and Southwest has nearly no connecting feed. AirTran, on the other hand, is designed for connections at MKE. Even in January, flying half-empty to Florida is bad news.



Quote:
Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
AirTran Milwaukee
60.9% ….. MKE ….. BOS
This is better than some may have expected, and it reflects their newfound monopoly. The early-morning BOS-MKE 737 only filled about 37% of seats, but they did better on other segments. In spite of the monopoy and the connecting feed, their twice-daily fligts operated nearly 40% empty. But January is a weak month.


Quote:
Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
AirTran Milwaukee
41.1% ….. MKE ….. DEN
In case anyone wondered why AirTran has a $48 MKE-DEN sale fare today...

-----

January is a weak month, and it's important to take that grain of salt with these numbers. But it's hard to imagine anyone happy with routes barely half full...or emptier...even in January.

Last edited by knope2001; Apr 27, 12 at 9:03 pm..
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Old Apr 27, 12, 9:26 pm   #3
 
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Here's Denver...

93.0% ….. DEN ….. PHL
92.7% ….. DEN ….. PHX
91.8% ….. DEN ….. RSW
91.1% ….. DEN ….. LGA
91.0% ….. DEN ….. LAS
90.7% ….. DEN ….. DTW
89.9% ….. DEN ….. MSP
89.4% ….. DEN ….. MCO
88.7% ….. DEN ….. SAN
88.5% ….. DEN ….. SLC
88.1% ….. DEN ….. SAT
87.9% ….. DEN ….. AUS
87.5% ….. DEN ….. DCA
87.3% ….. DEN ….. OMA
86.9% ….. DEN ….. IND
86.9% ….. DEN ….. SEA
86.6% ….. DEN ….. SMF
86.5% ….. DEN ….. LAX
86.2% ….. DEN ….. PDX
86.1% ….. DEN ….. ATL
85.6% ….. DEN ….. MSY
85.3% ….. DEN ….. MKE
85.2% ….. DEN ….. MSN
84.7% ….. DEN ….. FLL
84.4% ….. DEN ….. HOU
84.2% ….. DEN ….. SFO
81.8% ….. DEN ….. BNA
81.7% ….. DEN ….. MDW
81.2% ….. DEN ….. MCI
80.9% ….. DEN ….. CAK
79.0% ….. DEN ….. SNA
78.7% ….. DEN ….. BZN
78.5% ….. DEN ….. FSD
78.0% ….. DEN ….. DFW
77.8% ….. DEN ….. GRR
76.3% ….. DEN ….. PSP
75.6% ….. DEN ….. DAY
75.5% ….. DEN ….. GEG
72.8% ….. DEN ….. ABQ
72.0% ….. DEN ….. ICT
71.5% ….. DEN ….. TUS
70.7% ….. DEN ….. OKC
70.6% ….. DEN ….. DSM
70.5% ….. DEN ….. STL
70.2% ….. DEN ….. SBA
67.1% ….. DEN ….. BIL
65.8% ….. DEN ….. SDF
65.6% ….. DEN ….. BOS (1x/week)
62.8% ….. DEN ….. LIT
60.5% ….. DEN ….. ASE
57.2% ….. DEN ….. RFD (new)
56.9% ….. DEN ….. PVU
54.1% ….. DEN ….. TYS
50.0% ….. DEN ….. DRO
49.7% ….. DEN ….. BKG
47.6% ….. DEN ….. COS
46.2% ….. DEN ….. HDN
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Old Apr 28, 12, 2:39 pm   #4
 
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Some of the WN/FL numbers are definitely on the ugly side, but if you go by the comments that the WN CEO made a few days ago about MKE it doesn't seem like they're concerned. It still makes me uneasy, though.
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Old Apr 30, 12, 9:06 am   #5
 
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newbie questions

Thank you for posting this.

A couple of questions from a newbie to these numbers...

Are these the loads for just one way, e.g. DEN-SEA, or both there and back, e.g. DEN-SEA and SEA-DEN?

I also noticed that most of these are below their load reported in the Q1 results, 84.7%. I would guess from some of the ones at the bottom of the list that that is because of more flights with larger planes on the highly loaded routes. Is that correct?

I expect that some of the lower loads are to subsidized airports. Absent subsidies, what is a reasonable load to be profitable? Or does it depend too much on "fare or traffic composition"?
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Old Apr 30, 12, 10:53 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CreditMadeEZ View Post
Thank you for posting this.

A couple of questions from a newbie to these numbers...
Sure…no problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by CreditMadeEZ View Post
Thank you for posting this.

A couple of questions from a newbie to these numbers...

Are these the loads for just one way, e.g. DEN-SEA, or both there and back, e.g. DEN-SEA and SEA-DEN?

They are average of both directions…often the numbers are relatively close both directions, but not always.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CreditMadeEZ View Post
I also noticed that most of these are below their load reported in the Q1 results, 84.7%. I would guess from some of the ones at the bottom of the list that that is because of more flights with larger planes on the highly loaded routes. Is that correct?
Yup, you’re on the right track. These are January 2012, and Q1 is Jan/Feb/Mar. But even if we compare these to the actual January-only load factor (I think it was just above 80%) doing a simple average of these won’t get you to the same number. There are a couple of reasons for this:

(1) The overall reported Load Factor is a weighted average
The stats I show are simply the percentage of seats occupied on each route. The overall load factor they report is based on total revenue passenger miles divided by total available seat miles. Let’s say they only flew two markets: Denver to San Francisco and Sioux Falls. Let’s say DEN-SFO was 80% and DEN-FSD was 60%. One might think the overall load factor would be 70% since that’s the average of 60% and 80%. But DEN-SFO is twice as long as DEN-FSD. So if you factor that in, the overall load factor would be about 73.3%. Then remember than DEN-FSD is only once daily with a 99-seat plane, while DEN-SFO might be 5x/day with 138-seat planes for 690 daily seats. That also makes DEN-SFO “weigh” much more than DEN-FSD – factoring that in, the load factor for our simple airline would be 78.7%.

(2) The overall reported Load Factor includes international flights, which are not reported here.

(3) These numbers don’t differentiate between mainline and EJet, and I’m not positive if the reported “Frontier” numbers for load factor include the Republic EJets or not.

(4) These numbers may or may not include non-revenue passengers onboard. (I’ve tried to nail that fact down over the years with stats from various airlines and have never found it clear and consistent.) Usually the load factor reported by airlines in press releases is (supposed to be) for revenue passengers only.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CreditMadeEZ View Post
I expect that some of the lower loads are to subsidized airports. Absent subsidies, what is a reasonable load to be profitable? Or does it depend too much on "fare or traffic composition"?
That’s the $64,000 question, and not an easy one to answer.

It really does rely a great deal on fare and traffic composition. Really that boils down to “yield”, but I like to point out both fare and traffic composition because both are highly important, and people tend to think of “yield” as fare…perhaps the fare the see advertised, or the anecdotal fare information they happen to get from shopping. Traffic composition is important because it tells us not to just rely on what we (think) we know about the local fare. Let me illustrate it this way. Okay, so you see a $79 DEN-PHX fare advertised and you think “yield is horrible”. Or conversely you remember paying less than $100 for DEN-PHX in prior years, and this year the best fare you find for your upcoming vacation is $169, so “yields are strong”. Well, that kind of anecdotal stuff is always dangerous to draw conclusions from. But these days you can sometimes find better data showing *average* fare, which is a lot better than just hunt-and-peck price tallying. Average fare is a much better yardstick, but it’s still missing a big component. Let’s say average fare DEN-PHX is $150 this year, and the average DEN-PHX Airbus has 110 people onboard. Some of those people flew DEN-PHX locally, while others were connecting in on trips like MDW-DEN-PHX, MSP-DEN-PHX, etc. A connecting passenger usually brings quite a bit less revenue than a local passenger (for a few different reasons) and so the financial performance of a DEN-PHX flight booked to 110 with ten local passengers @ $150 is far, far worse than an identical DEN-PHX flight booked to 110 with ninety local passengers @ $150. That’s traffic composition.

So what are profitable load factors? Well, in theory a flight with one person aboard could be profitable if the fare was high enough. Heck, once in awhile I’ve heard people claim that completely empty flights make money because of the high cargo revenue, but I’m not inclined to believe either of those cases happen in the real world on any meaningful basis. In the real world, many (not all) markets have relatively depressed fares because of heavy competition, and that’s certainly true for Frontier.

Markets which *may* have stronger yields include:
--Those with no nonstop competitors
--Those without much low-cost-carrier presence
--Those with mostly local traffic

Markets which *may* have weaker yields include:
--Those which are new
--Those with heavy LCC competition
--Those which rely heavily on connecting traffic

Years back I would have put business markets in the strong section and leisure markets in the weaker section. But the distinction is far less than it once was, especially for an airline like Frontier. Yes, someone like Delta might get $300 average fares for DTW-ROC but $122 average fares for DTW-MCO (those are real Q3 numbers) because Rochester is a mostly-business monopoly route and Orlando is a high volume leisure route with LCC competition. But those distinctions are less than they once were, and much less for an airline like Frontier who can only dream of $300 average fares. And….as I pointed out earlier…the traffic composition is key here as well. If Delta only sells a few seats a day to local Detroit-Rochester passengers at that golden $300 average fare, but they fill the rest of the plane with $99 LAS-DTW-ROC passengers, it’s a bloodbath in spite of that remarkable fare.

Because of fare depression and unknown traffic composition, it’s very hard to tell if a full flight is making money or not. Undoubtedly some of the fullest markets still lost money, and sometimes a high-load market can be a *bad* sign for profitability. Sometimes it signifies that the airline can’t get any pricing traction whatsoever, and is using the $50-is-better-than-$0 theory of revenue management. So it’s no shoe-in that the top markets in loads are the most profitable.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, it’s difficult to see how airlines can make money on the low end of the scale. Yes, in theory somebody could be breaking even with 50% or even fewer of their capacity filled. But there definitely need to be special circumstances for that to be plausible – circumstances that are rare, and perhaps nonexistent with an LCC like Frontier. So there’s a bias to the downside with onboard load stats like this when it comes to guessing financial results. Loads in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s…you can probably be pretty sure they are money losers. But it’s hard to be sure that *any* route is profitable just from load factor, even at 95% load or higher. The best you can do from these sorts of numbers is say that when they get higher, you can be less confident that they lost money. To me, loads of about 75% and up are less interesting and meaningful when it comes to guessing profits because they are in the broad “maybe / maybe not” range. Loads lower than that are more interesting because you can somewhat more confidently judge a loss when a market is only flying half full or worse.

Loads are not meaningless, but they mean more in context than in simply applying a pass/fail threshold for profitability because you just can’t do that with any confidence.

I enjoy playing with these sorts of stats when I have the time. But they key reason I don’t post these more than I do (especially to more busy boards like airliners.net) is that it’s very easy to draw unsupported conclusions from them, and there are throngs of people willing and able to do just that if given the chance. The discussions tend to devolve pretty quickly. On FT there are fewer participants who hold strong orthodoxy and ax-grinding tendencies, especially on a slower board like F9. So it’s a more manageable discussion.
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Old Apr 30, 12, 8:58 pm   #7
 
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knope, I thank you for your efforts.
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Old May 1, 12, 8:39 am   #8
 
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Thank you knope2001

Quote:
Originally Posted by traveller001 View Post
knope, I thank you for your efforts.
+1(000)

And thank you for the detailed explanation! I had some vague feelings about some of these and it is good to have a more expert explanation.
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Old May 1, 12, 9:42 am   #9
 
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No doubt about it... he is THE Man. We all appreciate his insights. I just hope he stays interested in this forum considering how F9 continues to whittle down at his hometown airport.
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Originally Posted by traveller001 View Post
knope, I thank you for your efforts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CreditMadeEZ View Post
+1(000)

And thank you for the detailed explanation! I had some vague feelings about some of these and it is good to have a more expert explanation.
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Old May 1, 12, 12:22 pm   #10
 
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Kind of you guys to say...

I suppose if nothing else inertia will keep me here awhile, and maybe long term. Unfortunately I'll be on Frontier rarely, so I won't be able to offer experience or insight I get from being a frequent flyer. I have 17 segments so far this year and have three more booked, but those might well be my last for a long time. Between my SO and I we have about 225k miles banked, and we'll likely use them for vacations west over time. But we so rarely head west for work or family... just the occasional vacation.

Hitting 20 segments will get me to Ascent for 2013, but that will likely be it for status. Frontier's lower elite tier was wonderful, and I've been at the top level of FF at YX/F9 for quite a few years. Even if we focus travel on one airline (probably Delta) it will be tough to hit their silver status -- which is only moderately useful anyway. So it goes...
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Old May 1, 12, 1:00 pm   #11
 
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No doubt about it... he is THE Man. We all appreciate his insights.
Totally agree! Just hope that if knope cuts back, he does it gradually, so as not to suffer from withdrawal. It can all be very addicting, especially for those who give so much time and energy, along with sincere and thoughtful input.

I offer my gratitude and thanks to knope for all of his efforts, as well.
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Old May 1, 12, 5:22 pm   #12
 
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The one silver lining, I say sarcastically, is that knope's T-100 posts will be shorter and take much less of his time, at least for the MKE part.

I used to post more freqently here as well, but lost interest when Midwest started to fade away. I just haven't had as much to say recently.
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Old May 1, 12, 5:28 pm   #13
 
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I echo the sentiments.. always great stuff from knope.
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Old May 3, 12, 12:50 pm   #14
 
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Originally Posted by Stumblefoot View Post
I just hope he stays interested in this forum considering how F9 continues to whittle down at his hometown airport.
Quote:
Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
I suppose if nothing else inertia will keep me here awhile, and maybe long term. Unfortunately I'll be on Frontier rarely, so I won't be able to offer experience or insight I get from being a frequent flyer.
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Originally Posted by newsmanhoss View Post
I used to post more freqently here as well, but lost interest when Midwest started to fade away. I just haven't had as much to say recently.
Yes, and once again Tim Hoeksema is enjoying his lagoon pool on his multi-square foot spread in Florida....Is he thanking the loyal YX employees who got dumped or the loyal Wisconsin customers? Doubt it. His greed and vanity prevented him from selling "his" airline to FL, which would have made MKE its Midwestern hub. Instead he sold the airline to NW and some financiers from Texas who only wanted to make a buck on the next sale. NW wrote off the "investment" as bad debt almost immediately -- after all, their sole purpose in entering into the transaction was to block FL -- and the Texans moved on to other things. The result: Milwaukee again becomes a transportation backwater. Thanks again, Tim!
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