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Author Topic: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers  (Read 33220 times)

masoniclight

  • Former member
Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« on: January 14, 2009, 05:44:57 AM »
Hey out there in Airwaysim Land. PM "Midnight" Blum here.. chairman of WIND Airlines (twice bankrupt) and now The Shrine Temple Airlines (all Game One) and the rebirth of WIND Airlines (Game Two).

I am here to give some of my hard learned wisdom to anyone who might be wondering about what is going on in the great game and how to avoid some possible pitfalls.

As you can see, I have filed bankrupt not once but twice! Why? Do you ask? Simply because of too rapid expansion. I want to stress to you, the player reading this "guide" these three important words you should put in your Airwaysim vocabulary: Patience, Patience, Patience. Did you get that? Let me say it again- PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE! It doesn't matter if you have started your base in the most populous city on earth with the most passengers coming to the airport or whether you have chose a smaller, more out of the way city...
ALL loads will be small and not up to your lofty expectations. It could be MONTHS (game time) before you see your profits begin to finally outweigh your costs. Prepare for this and take things slow at first. You will incur a lot of losses at first. Don't panic. Have Patience.

Secondly, take your time in planning your routes! This is perhaps the most important in game decision you will make. Passengers are your life blood. Whether you have an aircraft that hold 150 people or one that holds 15.. you need to move these people to the new destinations.. as MANY of them as you can.
As I mentioned, your load factors will probably not be the highest, that takes time as I mentioned already, but you will have to put up with these loads numbers for a while. Yes, even if you've lowered your prices significantly, the load factors don't seem to alter all that much. I know, I have tried to have a low priced airline each time.. in fact, I am dedicated to running a low priced carrier.. it really takes dedication and the knowing your profit margins are going to suffer in the short term.
So where to go? As you plan your route, look at the numbers closely. If Monday and Friday have significant number of potential fliers, then obviously have your plane(s) fly in on those days.. maybe more than once or twice.. the numbers will give you an idea of how many times you might need to visit that airport (or airports) with your fleet.

Here are the facts-

Large cities usually have large or at least significant airports; therefore, passenger numbers should be greater there. Just remember, you won't be the ONLY one flying into these airports so the passenger numbers will inevitably be diluted over time as more airlines fly their planes into those large cities.
Large Cities- Pros: Large number of potential passengers. Cons: Large number of OTHER airlines competing over that airport.

Medium cities usually have significant or moderate sized airports; therefore, passengers numbers probably will not be as high as the larger cities but still should be enough to keep your air fleet busy. It may be good to look into these cities as alternate money sources if you don't want to fight it out with a ton of other companies vying for those airports.  Medium Cities- Pros: Probably fair to good passenger numbers, possibly not as many companies competing for these airports. Cons: Lesser passenger numbers means less revenue.

Small cities. So, no love for small airports? Well the argument is that the small numbers of potential passengers cannot justify the cost of flying to these airports.. well.. IF you do decide to send a plane or two to smaller airports, you probably will be the only show in town. No competition. Logically, you would think that people in the smaller cities would be more loyal to a company willing to come to their airport.. in real life, loyalty by the customers does factor into things.. in game.. well, I'm not so sure, but regardless of that, there are people in these cities wanting to go places. So there is money to be made there.. albeit, not a lot of overall revenue.
So what to do? Fly to a small city, pick up some people and fly back to your base city or stop over in a small city on your way to a larger one? Tough to answer that one. I am committed to flying at least a plane or two into smaller airports... we'll see if that strategy helps or hinders my companies, but I figure that if I can at least break even in with the small airports (eventually) my company won't be harmed in pursuing that strategy.
Small cities: Pros: probably no competition. Cons: small potential passenger pools, airports that aren't open 24 hours a day.

Airplanes:

Well the trickiest part of the game is the planes themselves. Buy or lease. With 4 million dollars to start.. you won't find a lot of planes you can purchase right off. The ones you can purchase are either older than dirt or just slightly larger than a breadbasket. Buying of course means no lease agreements and so no more money coming out of the bank every month. Of course, you wont have a lot left of your money for other things, and those monthly salaries have to paid no matter if you lease or buy. You will have to decide which way is best for you. I have tried both ways now and have yet to form an opinion about either decision. When game 1 is done, I will be able to better answer this question.

No matter what: Make sure that your C & D checks are a LONG way off. They can break your bank and bankrupt your company. Never get a plane that has C & D checks coming soon! Also, don't get a plane that holds 200 people if a smaller plane, cheaper plane will do as near a good job. Only get that 200 carrier plane if you are ABSOLUTELY sure you can get at least 65% of it full each time it flies! Otherwise, fuel costs and turn around costs and maintenance costs will eat up any potential profit you might earn.

Finally- Have fun with the game. We all want to have the best airlines around. We all want to see our airlines in the top five airline companies.. its just natural.. but don't let that desire to be the best the fastest be your guide in this game. Have patience and have fun with it.. remember.. its just a game.

So Mote It Be.

Offline tacsniper

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Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2009, 06:46:19 AM »
I would like to add my observation as well.

Marketing

Marketing is your bread and butter. Either company image or route image, you will need marketing to increase your LF thus increase profit. Put a lot of effort in marketing your company or routes for the first few months and then maybe scale back a little but do not eliminate marketing.

Maintenance

After you purchase your aircraft make sure your maintenance are schedule to ensure your aircraft are kept up in condition and not to get ding during ramp check. If your aircrafts are not up to date on their maintenance it will hurt your company image real bad no matter how hardcore your marketing is. Like who would want to fly with a company with unsafe airplanes right?  ;)

lucasite

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2009, 09:21:40 AM »
Great advise guys. Can I also add:

Pricing
At first, dont try to run your pricing at default rates, using the Price Management feature to reduce pricing by percentages, it makes life so much easier. I started all my route pricing with between 15% and 20% discounts. It really helps to improve your load factors. And if/when you decide to increase your prices, monitor your LF for the following few days to see the impact. You'll soon see if you're customers are happy with the price increases or not.

(admin note: when your company and route images raise after 6-8 months after opening the route, remember to raise the prices as the customers know you already by then and you can raise the prices by then to maximize the profits)



Maintenance
My first aircraft had only 69% condition. And at least once or twice a week I suffered from cancelled flights due to technical problems. I finally bit the bullet and decided that losing a days income to perform an early B check would be better in the long run. And it was, my a/c condition jumped to 83%, no more (frequent) cancellations. Note: this may not be a dead cert for everyone, but it worked for me, and is something to think about.

« Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 12:24:06 PM by sami »

masoniclight

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Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2009, 06:36:21 PM »
Yes Add AWAY your thoughts and observations here!! I appreciate this input.. newcomers especially need to know how to be successful in the game... the best way of course is to see how we did it (or what not to do in my cases.. at least the first two bankruptcies)

I wanted to add that when it comes to Scheduling the more places you fly, the potentially more amount of customers you may have flying your airlines. SO, if that plane of yours still has a few hours in the day open on its schedule... maybe a short jaunt to another airport just might be something to think about.. plan accordingly of course.. but having more passengers is usually a good thing.

Offline JJP

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Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2009, 12:54:38 AM »
I have noticed that there are certain popular times of the day people like flying.  Your load factors will be somewhat higher than at other times.  You can let it ride (enjoying higher load factors) or slightly increase your rates for that flight.  You'll have to play with the price to find the best profit (price vs. load). 

On the flip side of the coin, there are some times of the day that are not so popular for people to fly.  You may need to slightly decrease your rates for these (late night/early morning) flights.

masoniclight

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2009, 03:56:13 AM »
I have noticed that there are certain popular times of the day people like flying.  Your load factors will be somewhat higher than at other times.  You can let it ride (enjoying higher load factors) or slightly increase your rates for that flight.  You'll have to play with the price to find the best profit (price vs. load). 

On the flip side of the coin, there are some times of the day that are not so popular for people to fly.  You may need to slightly decrease your rates for these (late night/early morning) flights.

Well there's Red Eye flights in real life... I guess there should be in Airwaysim too  ;D

Offline swiftus27

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Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2009, 06:40:15 PM »
My addition:

Patience is KEY!  Things in this game evolve over days and weeks of real time.  DON'T expect huge results after an hour of game time. 

masoniclight

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2009, 08:19:28 PM »
And if you do fail.. try again.. after all, you get three chances (three bankruptcies).. don't be afraid to use them.. of course, there are us (meaning me) who has used up ALL my bankruptcies but hey.. Im still a game newbie hehe.. no worries.. Ill be patient and wait for game 3.

masoniclight

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2009, 08:22:10 PM »
ALSO! dont ever be afraid to ask Sami, Talentz or any of the number of the guys who playtested the game in the first place.. I have so much thanks to Sami and Talentz who really helped me learn what I was doing wrong as a CEO.. I will be able to put their knowledge and advice to work in the next game.. Im excited! so again I say, dont hesitate to ask the experts here, they are great people ready to help.

Offline JJP

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Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2009, 03:03:57 AM »
I know it's very tempting to start from a very popular hub, but you can make good profit even from hubs that don't seem so popular (50% - 60%).  If you don't want to be hammered with competition, choose a hub that isn't at the top of the list (80% - 100%).  Find routes that have mediocre demand (250 - 700 demand per day) that no one else is flying. 

In order to enjoy good load factors, do not overload the route with capacity.  If the route only has a demand of 300 seats per day, make only one flight per day (depending on the aircraft you choose).  Use that airplane to fly a couple of different route with around the same amount of demand.  If you provide only ~half the capacity of the demand for a route, your load factors will be much better than if you provide 100%+ of the route demand.

What type of aircraft?  Make sure you choose aircraft with at least 100 seats.  Aircraft with fewer seats may be tempting (cheaper leases, maintenance, less crew, fuel, etc.), but these aircraft will not provide the necessary profit for your airline.  The airplane's direct costs will be more than covered (and the aircraft will show a profit), but the plane will not be able to generate enough revenue to cover your airline's overhead (salaries, marketing, etc.). 

When choosing aircraft, be sure to scrutinize all the numbers.  Not all used aircraft are created equal (even the same exact type of aircraft).  Be sure to view how much your A, B, and C checks are going to cost.  Used aircraft have HUGE differences in maintenance costs depending on type, age, hours flown, and number of landings. 

Be patient when leasing aircraft.  Have an idea of what you think is a good bargain (based on cost, age, etc.) and stick with it.  Your airline will do much better in the long run if you are using good, decent aircraft instead of anything that comes along.  Also, look into changing the config on aircraft to get some business seats (C class) thrown in.  Yeah, it costs a little more to reconfig, but you can make bank with those C-class (charging up to 3 times as much as coach!).  Make sure the routes you're going to fly have business demand, however!

Hope this helps! 

Mahon

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2009, 09:07:20 PM »
While most of JJP's advice is excellent, I will beg to differ on the viability of small planes (below 100 seats). In my recent foray into Game 2 - Welcome to Airwaysim, I got my start with 37 seat DHC-8-100's. They had a few key advantages, it seems:
*able to fly to airports my competitors simply can't get a 737 or an MD-80 into.
*able to exploit thinner routes.
*much easier to fill in general under the current model. On empty routes where there were demand for 200 or so pax, these planes pulled near-full LF's right off the mark.
*short turnaround times = lots of flights.
*better availability of aircraft = faster growth.

I started with just one of these. Then two. Then four. Then a couple of batches of DHC-8-300's with even better returns. Soon I had a fully functional regional airline. Jets came later, in the form of the Avro RJ-series (including many RJ-85's, which are also profiting nicely).

In earlier eras, sub-100 seat planes were pretty much essential. In the 1960's the Viscount makes a great regional workhorse, just as it did in the real world. HS748's made very effective replacements as they matured.

If you ARE going to try this approach, you want to do so somewhere with a large number of potential destinations within ~400 NM, particularly in the small-medium range - jackpot if you have a number of airports nearby with shorter runways. Stick to a single fleet-group of aircraft until you have at least a dozen planes. Have a look at the max seating numbers of your planes - if there's a significant difference between it and default, it's probably worth doing a custom high-density refit since you'll be doing a lot of short flights (BAe 146's and Avro RJ's particularly benefit from this). Note that short runs often will not have much by way of C-class pax, but then 50 pax turboprops can only carry a single class of pax anyways.

On the subject of jets vs props, preferences vary rather widely. I am told that there is a subtle 'prop aversion' factor modeled into the background (at least for some aircraft), but of course props come with great fuel efficiency. On longer runs, jets will get you further, faster. On short runs, they lose this edge rapidly. The emergence of faster turboprops like the Dash 8 Q400, the Saab 2000 and the Dornier 328 will particularly erode the regional jet's attractiveness for shorter runs. Jets, on the other hand, will give you longer legs, and odds are that EVENTUALLY you'll want to stretch beyond your regional roots.

I have bombed with this strategy before, BTW. It was on the Beta Europe Challenge as Lutefisk Airways. I tried starting up with a number of 80 pax BAC 1-11 400's, if I recall correctly, which weren't exactly up to the higher fuel prices of the times. They also reinforced the importance of keeping a close eye on the maintenance costs when selecting an aircraft. I was also running these things at the edge of their range (meaning fewer flights per day), and the costs steadily caught up to the revenue they could pull. There have, however, been refinements to the demand models since this occurred, and I suspect that I would have an easier time filling those planes this time around.

Offline JJP

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Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2009, 12:11:26 AM »
Hi Mahon,

I really appreciate your perspective and experience on this point.  I'm curious. I had near 100% load factors on my 50 passenger planes, but the profit simply could not cover my fixed costs.  How did you accomplish this?  Each of my aircraft (brand new Dash 8's, by the way, that I was lucky to nab) were making good profit individually, but overall my airline suffered a defecit.  Interesting . . .

Mahon

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2009, 01:18:30 AM »
That's the funny thing. I'm not under the impression that I did anything special beyond getting the planes, utilizing them heavily (4+ flight legs per day), starting out fairly modest with the advertising, and not jumping straight into hyper-competitive territory. I would certainly be glad to discuss matters further via PM while we figure out the key differences though.

zoohead

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2009, 06:36:08 AM »
One the best ways to ensure your aircraft is making $$$ asap is to work the thing...just as the airlines do in real life.

An aircraft sitting on the ground is a waste of $$$.

Schedule the aircraft to work from 6am - 5am the next day (with the red eye not available 1 day a week for the 'A' check).

It doesn't matter what your aircraft costs to run a month, if it is sitting on the ground, it is losing. Even if you schedule a red-eye flight and it only makes $2000-, making $$$ is better than the aircraft sitting on the ground costing.


Offline JJP

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Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2009, 01:24:00 PM »
One the best ways to ensure your aircraft is making $$$ asap is to work the thing...just as the airlines do in real life.

An aircraft sitting on the ground is a waste of $$$.

Schedule the aircraft to work from 6am - 5am the next day (with the red eye not available 1 day a week for the 'A' check).

It doesn't matter what your aircraft costs to run a month, if it is sitting on the ground, it is losing. Even if you schedule a red-eye flight and it only makes $2000-, making $$$ is better than the aircraft sitting on the ground costing.



This is great advice.  One thing I have noticed, though, is scheduling too many flights very close together will cause delays due to "too short turn-around times."  That's not too big a deal if you've already established your route image, but if you're just starting off, it could kill your chances. Schedule the red-eyes, but be sure to put some breathing room between flights.   8)

masoniclight

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2009, 03:08:26 PM »
Best thing about the Red Eye flights is, most of the bigger airports are open 24 hours.. this means you could be flying into those big cities, big airports when competition might be a bit less as well as a good chance of having decent pax. A wise air company can utilize this strategy to their advantage ESPECIALLY if your prices are significantly lower than other airlines coming into said airport.

carloscarlos

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2009, 02:01:55 PM »
Red Eyes?!?!?!...is there a glossary around so i can have a look!??!

Kontio

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2009, 02:15:06 PM »
Red Eyes?!?!?!...is there a glossary around so i can have a look!??!


Not really, but there are things such as Google and Wikipedia that you are allowed to use.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-eye_flight

masoniclight

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2009, 04:50:54 PM »
Great stuff all.. keep it up!!!

fflorendo

  • Former member
Re: Lessons Learned- A Guide To Newcomers
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2009, 01:47:26 AM »
What I've learned from operating as ZJA
is that a premium product is the key to success.
Also location along with your premium product
will make the door for your key. The plane I would
reccomend would be the F70/100. Because of its fuslage
and fuel economy it is perfect for a (F/J) cabin. The base you should probably
choose if you go down this path than you should base yourself in
Europe due to a high demand for (F/J) class cabin. If you operate the F70
in a (8F/32J) cabin on average per day you will make $86,000 USD.

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