Long Haul – Budget Airline Style
So how to get to Indonesia reasonably cheaply at a time when fuel costs have rocketed, passenger demand depressed with global recessions and airlines racking up multi million dollar losses? Fares have risen by close to 50% in many cases from 2006/07 especially on longer haul routes with low competition.
Here in the UK and across Europe we have grown used to keeping fare costs low by using the budget airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet. Those in the know, know that when the first seats are sold for a flight they can sell for as little as 1p each way. Of course the taxes, check in fee, hold luggage charge and payment card fee soon boost up the flight cost to double digit pounds but the cost is still low and frequently less than the cost of the journey to the airport if taking a taxi.
The growth of the budget airlines has changed the market and hurt the national flag carriers in the process. Friends are always jumping on a cheap flight for long weekends or having bought properties abroad use the budget airlines like they are buses or trains. Flying used to be glamourous, now flights are just a means of getting from here to there and back again.
Ryanair and Easyjet have always said their business model only works for short haul flights, and so would not enter the long haul market. But there have been long haul no-frills airlines, though many, such as Air Comet who flew from Madrid to Central and South American destinations, have come and gone and bitten the dust. Over in Asia, AirAsia has established itself as a solid budget airline linking the cities of South East Asia, their growth mirroring that achieved by the British/Irish upstarts. But there’s a difference, for in 2008 they began a daily service from London Stansted to their home hub in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. So what’s it like to fly for 13 hours non stop, where meals and seat choice are optional extras? They must be doing well as they are increasing route frequency.
We are about to find out……………..