hershey, I am feeling ur frustruation... I am in a similar position, where the big fish who settled in at the start of the game (I did start late) has took over of all the slots (cannot blame him though), so I wonder what's the point of continuation of this game. Just to make money and survive it to the end? Well I could do that... I am making some money after all, but there is no challenge in that.
Airwaysim as it is, is a little bit unrealistic, and non survivable for newcomers There are some serious flaws that need to be adressed imho.
I am also not going to get extra credits for making it to the end.
anyways... tough luck
Not all the "big fish" settle in early in the game. In LAX, there was a rather epic battle between myself and another airline that nearly bankrupted both of us that played out over the first couple of game years. It signifcantly hindered by expansion in the early game because we were trading blows.
As for late comers, I've entered several game worlds about halfway through and have done very well. Typically by then the used market is much more liquid and fuel prices are climbing to shake out the poorly run airlines. In Air Travel Boom that just completed recently, I started with 10 years remaining and finished the game with top revenue, profit, ASM, RSM, passengers carried, fleet size (maybe number two - I don't recall if I passed Dantes), etc. If you feel trapped in yoru current city without much to do but make a little money, you may want to experiment with the game engine. See what happens when you compete on a route, open a base or try out different fleet types. Then in the next game world that you join, you'll be ready to boot some head. Of coruse, the other option is bankrupting and going to a different base (you get 3 freebies).
I had a hilarous blow up at CDG and had to start over. I went to BAltimoe where a completely established player had NEARLY EVERY route covered. The few I had to myself he flooded to try to drive me out. I successfully built an airline with competition on 90% of all the routes and I am doing fine. It went so slow I almost gave up but once I got around 10 to 15 aircraft by clawing and scraping I have my head above water. If your routes are flooded with ATRs why were you flying a less profitable plane on that route in the first place? Sorry if I sound critical but you know they bigs are coming. Why don't you build smart from day one? Perhpas you did and I have not experinced this but I Baltimore is a packed airport and 2 airlines manage a homebase there WITH it being a hub as well for an airline. We can't all be Owl or Dantes or LLL. Bully for those guys for playing well and they are the United, Lufthansa, etc. of "our" world. The rest of us are Southwest or god forbid, the TWA's and Pan Ams.
You're right in building smart from day one. You've got to always be prepared for fuel to jump to $1000+ even if its cruising in the $100-200 range. You've also got to be in a dominating position in your home base to discourage others from visiting to run you out of business. Make sure you're using ALL of the prime time slots so its not efficient for them to do multiple flights per day against your larger planes because the slots are gone. The current fuel prices in the game are so low that only the worst run airlines have a chance at running out of money. Things will get interesting and airlines will drop like flies if fuel climbs to $500+. THen you'll know who the good CEOs are around here.
For those who think you get hosed when you airport gets flooded with planes, read about the start of Southwest Airlines sometime. This is a brutal business and the rough side is simulated here. Not prefectly, but still, I think it is great. Next game world I hope to be a big, and after what I have learned on my "no free lunch" experiement in Baltimore I hope I manage to.
I reccomend the book "Hard Landing: The Epic Contest for Power and Profits That Plunged the Airlines into Chaos" by Thomas Petzinger for said history lesson.
Southwest was a bit different as their first 4 years were in courts trying to show that the US regulation didn't apply to them because they only flew intra-state in Texas. They were able to set their fares and schedules whereas their competition (AA/Braniff/et al) had to get approval from the CAB to wipe their nose.