I am writing to introduce my idea on the return of ABCBA routing. I guess most of you are seeking the return of it, although it has many controversies when someone tried to abuse it heavily. Therefore I would like to suggest "Focus City" option to prevent the abuse, in order to allow the ABCBA routing returns.
First, we need to know some of the fact in Real life, in order to understand the proposal down below.
1. ABCBA isn't necessarily transport passenger between B and C.
In real life, some of the route has not enough passenger demand to fit a long haul plane. If the company wants to serve the route, a company may fly ABCBA without the 5th Freedom. The plane flies to city B, drop passenger and continue the flight to city C. The return will take up passengers in both C and B then return to homebase.
2. 5th freedom is rare in real life.
5th freedom usually granted towards airline in flying certain dense, high demand route such as JFK-LHR, HKG-TPE, HKG-BKK etc. Not only bringing competition on dense routes, also facilitate the operation of Ultra-long haul, such as 5th freedom granted to JAL on JFK-GRU; NRT-GRU are ~10000NM away.
3. In domestic market ABCBA is common.
ABCBA is common to serve the demand between medium cities and small cities. The airline can reduce the cost by using ABCBA, without basing pilots and aircraft in those medium cities.
Second, the below is about the concept of “focus city” option.
1. Any airline needs to open “Focus City” to transfer passenger between focus city and other airport. Means if I was in SIN, I want to transfer passenger between HKG-NRT, I need to set up a focus city in HKG.
2. Any airline can fly ABCBA despite he has open a “focus city” in city B or not. If he has not opened focus city in B, he can still fly but cannot transfer passenger between B and C. Means if I was in SIN, I want to serve ATH and CPH but the demand is low to launch direct flight to both ATH and CPH, I can fly ABCBA with stop at ATH. Then I can transport passenger between SIN-ATH and SIN-CPH without opening a focus city in ATH. i.e Opening “focus city” outside home-country can be considered as gaining the 5th freedom.
Third, limitation and operational difficulty on “focus city”
1. Number of Focus-city should be limited, to 4-8 in my opinion. Otherwise someone will abuse the market outside its home base for attacking purpose.
2. Demand supplied on ABCBA should count towards supply on A-B stint, in certain percentage (30%-50%). And the total supply on A-B stint still limited to 200%. This measure is to limit the influence to City B’s airline which reflecting real life; the local authorities would like to protect their flag carriers or airline based in their airports.
3. Staff cost should be different between foreign focus city and domestic focus city. Of course due to language and training cost, foreign focus city should be more expensive. Staff cost should have exponential increase if the focus city is far away from the home base (use route type on “route planning” page as standard), to prevent abuse the market far away from them; rationale to this is the flight crew needed to be changed (due to flight hour limit) in the focus city so another set of crew to be employed.
Fourth, possible problem would be appeared.
1. The focus city option is limited.
Due to the demand limitation on A-B stint, the focus city option is probably quite limited or easy to guess. Using LGW as example, the number of routes which demand exceed 500 (using 1988 data collected in AWS) is ~15, only FRA-LGW exceeded 1000. Thus, it is clear that the airline will open a focus city in those choices. And very probably some airports will be paired up for competition, such as HKG and TPE, TPE and NRT, while long haul as LHR and JFK.
I guess this is reflection on real-life because no airline will open or able to have 5th freedom granted to an airport without strong interaction.
(subjected to edit)
Please kindly review the above proposal. I would think the “Focus City” requires quite a lot of programming effort. I expect to have a robust plan on ABCBA returns so Sami can work on it as long-term works.