Airline types explained: The Fundamentals of Route Development

As part of a series of articles looking at 'The Fundamentals of Route Development', we explain the different types of airlines in the market today.

To succeed in route development, you have to appreciate the difference between airline types – full service carriers (FSCs) and low cost carriers (LCCs) and adapt your pitch approach accordingly.

FSCs can be divided up into different types. Network carriers can be single hub, like Air France at Paris CDG or Emirates in Dubai; or they can be a multiple hub carrier like American Airlines and Air Canada. Usually a carrier has multiple hubs for geographical reasons. FSC carriers can be point-to-point regional carriers, which is how bmi operates. Lufthansa CityLine is an example of a regional feeder service; which fills the gap bigger carriers cannot because it’s not viable; to markets that are too small. There are also capacity purchase agreements which exist to connect traffic.

LCCs can be segmented too. They consist of value LCCs, like Azul and easyJet, which go after the business market. Ultra-low cost carriers (ULCCs) aim for the lowest fares and have succeeded in stimulating new unserved routes. FSCs offer their own LCC subsidiaries; they offer customers a cheaper or more basic service in order to keep and gain more customers. Air Canada has Rouge, Eurowings is Lufthansa’s LCC, and Jetstar Airways are the low cost version of Qantas. Transavia is a hybrid LCC, whereas Norwegian and Air Asia X are long-haul LCCs.

Charter carriers can be split into four different types. These can open new markets and also provide links to hub networks.

  • Thomas Cook Group: Condor is a vertically integrated carrier.
  • Part-vertically integrated carriers can integrate with other airlines, or work with other travel operators.
  • Non-vertically integrated carriers are solely planes for hire – a fixed price will be charged for the season; which is what Enter Air and Travel Service do.
  • ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) operators such as Omni Air and Dynamic are also planes for hire but they tend to do one-offs. You tell the carrier where you want to fly to and they quote you a price. This business is lower risk as they pre-sell capacity. For example, Omni Air flew troops to Afghanistan.

Note, the nature of airline models is constantly evolving. Keep up to speed with new variants, partnerships and adaptations to strengthen your target settings and route development approach.

Download 'The Fundamentals of Route Development' below; or watch our video here

Share this article

Request a callback for Route Exchange

Route Exchange has played a pivotal role in keeping the route development community connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Request a call back to learn how to leverage a Route Exchange and communicate your recovery strategy.

Request Call Back