Budget airlines, as you would guess from the name, offer inexpensive tickets -- sometimes as low as $50 for a one-way ticket. They manage this by cutting their own operating costs. How do they cut costs? There are many ways an airline can trim operating expenses, but budget airlines are most well-known for cutting back on passenger luxuries, or making passengers pay for luxuries à la carte. What's behind the success (and sometimes failure) of budget airlines? Do they cut corners on safety? What is it like to fly on a budget airline? In this article, we're going to take a hard look at airline economics and find out how budget carriers stay in the black.
Cost factors independent of safety
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....
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