In these times, air transport has managed to survive the pandemic, which meant a 90% drop in traffic at the most critical moment, in part thanks to the fact that the supplies of various production chains required the support of air cargo to be more efficient and also because vaccines and other essential goods had no alternative but to use aerial equipment, including passenger equipment, to be transported quickly and efficiently.
Now that the trend towards recovery is beginning to be perceived, be it with its potholes like the one now being experienced due to the Omicron, on the horizon the ghost of the disappearance of traditional airlines emerges to, according to some, leave the entire market to the low-cost ones, which are the ones that withstood the crisis better and have recovered faster.
However, the matter is not so simple. On other occasions it has been commented that low-cost airlines, whose first very successful version was Southwest, were born precisely taking advantage of the surpluses that the traditional market was creating over the years. Southwest began its flights on routes that used secondary airports already in decline from having been replaced by large hubs of traditional airlines, using the most efficient aircraft created by the inertia of the original industry, while eliminating many of the prerogatives of the customers. that on short routes were not so necessary, such as food, pre-assigned seats, ample space for passengers and their luggage, accrual of miles to obtain awards, etc.
This created a new product that consumers have valued, since it is a fact that low cost companies have captured a large part of the new market that was created, especially between the end of the 90’s and until 2019.
The question is whether the traditional ones will survive in the future, given the growth trends prior to the pandemic, since with the crisis the price becomes critical. Many traditional companies had to resort to subsidies and soft loans from many governments, or to mechanisms such as Chapter XI of the United States Bankruptcy Law. But it was evident how they maintained connectivity in many markets and their crews offered unconditional support for the transportation of basic supplies and vaccines.
Likewise, the crisis forced the traditional companies to cut costs, agree on facilities with their unions, renegotiate with lessors to resize their fleets and templates. This brings them closer to the low-cost ones because, in addition, the cut cannot be infinite. The thousands of daily complaints against companies that sell tickets without baggage allowance demonstrate this, as well as the general dissatisfaction of many passengers who, despite knowing that they buy low cost, want a minimal courtesy of a drink or snack. This is without taking into account the surcharge that they must pay in case they want to change any condition of the contract, such as the date of the flight or more luggage.
In general, industries, systems and even paradigms have this dialectic: they are created, they impose a model that is opposed by a new one and in the end we will have a good synthesis. Hopefully we get the best of both worlds.