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Author Topic: How to start mid game?  (Read 447 times)

Online Nvoco

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How to start mid game?
« on: November 16, 2019, 06:26:12 PM »
Is it even possible to start mid game?  I've made my latest attempt in this world and found a small unserviced airfield with no bases that actually had a few routes with around 150 pax demand.  I leased six aircraft and scheduled them to have 19 hours of utilization over six different routes.  And then a big boy noticed and set up a DC-10 to run on one of the 150 pax demand routes. 

Any tips for starting up mid game while avoiding competition crushing established airlines?  How small do you have to start to go  unmolested?

Offline Andre090904

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2019, 06:56:12 PM »
Hi there,

You don't need to start at an unserviced airport. I see you are in Orlando Sanford right now. Why not start in Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale etc? The airports are bigger (more demand) and you will surely always get "your share" if you start flying from there. That being said, fleet choice is key here. You mentioned someone is flying a DC10 to Sanford. I assume this is a domestic route. While I am sure this particular player uses this route only as a "filler" in his schedules, the aircraft type for this route could barely be worse. The operating costs for this monster are insane on such short routes and any competitor will have a big advantage here. Just think of a regional jet or even propeller plane. Which aircraft would make more money? Split the 150 demand on your flight and the DC10 flight. Each would get 75 passengers (simplified calculation). Your regional aircraft is full while the DC10 is flying at losses.

This scheme applies everywhere. Check bigger airports, check your competitor's fleets and try to find a niche. Maybe they have no medium planes and cannot fly to medium airports? Or maybe they have no very large fleet and thus no long-haul flights? Or maybe they ignore the cargo demand and have no cargo planes? Just because there are airlines at an airport, it doesnt mean they are using its full potential. :)

Online Nvoco

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2019, 07:34:59 PM »
It is a route to Brazil with 150 demand,  a DC-10 will lose money split with my old DC8. The problem is, this was one of my first six routes which I picked because it was unserviced.  How am I supposed to react to an established airline with high company image coming in.  He can afford the losses it will take to put me under.  I can't shift the plane to a new route without having to eat the route image hit.

Seems like he has successfully scared me off, time to start a new airline somewhere else with some of your tips in mind.  I don't have the margin to recover.

Offline Andre090904

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2019, 07:45:29 PM »
OK, that is unfortunate. Still, the key as a new player is to find your niche at an airport. As you said it makes no sense to copy/compete with existing airlines because those will just crush you. Instead, check what those established airlines are NOT doing. And that is your niche. If you see that someone is flying purely 727, 737 etc. then you know that this airline cannot fly to "medium" airports (because "large" aircraft are not allowed there). Maybe that can work as a starting point. Or maybe the airline is not flying cargo and you could do just that? Or maybe you see that an established airline has an very old/oudated fleet and you could compete with that airline with more efficient planes? For example, if you see that someone is flying 25yr old 727 and you fly with new Saab 2000 or so, then you could really hurt this airline over time. Sure, they have the reserves, but you could still tackle the airline and make their transition more difficult...and probably even make it bankrupt. I too joined late in previous game worlds and managed to become a major player by bankrupting competitors. All you have to do is find a starting point/niche and then to analyse your competitor's errors and push them into bankruptcty.

There are many tactics you could apply. :)


Offline Tha_Ape

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2019, 11:39:33 PM »
Also, as I understand it, the DC-10 flight was from an established brazilian airline, while you were based in the US. Thus, the issue would be maxed on this route only. 1/6. Not much.
If at this point you're not turning a profit, this is not the "fault" of your competitor on a single route, but yours. Not I'm trying to be mean, I just point out what seems logical.
However you not being profitable can be absolutely normal. If your flying routes with 150 demand with a 150 seater, then it will take time to fill and turn a profit. If you add the fact that it's with an old DC-8, it will take even more time. If you add the fact that you don't fly your destinations 7 days a week, it will take even more time.
At this point, you just need to be resilient enough to wait for the point at which you'll turn a profit.
Obviously, you won't turn a profit every time, it takes some (some, but not necessarily much) experience to know in advance what will be profitable and what won't. And even like this, you can be wrong, or like in your case some other guy might drop in.

But in a word, don't be discouraged just because you lost some money the 1st weeks. We've all started airlines that were making losses initially, and in the end were very profitable.

Online Nvoco

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2019, 12:45:21 AM »
"this is not the "fault" of your competitor on a single route, but yours. "

Mistakes were made could be a tag line for all the airlines in various situations I have tried.  One established airline dropping in on one of my six routes in the early weeks made clear than I had opened up 2 too many routes and should have stuck to four planes.  As it was I had six routes from SFB to various points from 3700 miles to 4000 miles.  Each with around 150 pax demand.  Utilization was 19 hours average for those six planes, all DC-8-62s, covering those six routes. In my experience, which is limited to the last 18 months or so, it was one of the most promising starts I've managed.

But i have never managed to get an airline past two years without disaster.  Usually it a variation of me messing up while attempting to start up destination pair scraps I've managed to find un-served.  Trying to expand market share too quickly before an established airline notices they left things open usually finds me close to the edge with to many low route image routes generating negative cash.  And then, inevitably, an established airline drops in on one or two of my most profitable routes that is keeping me alive.

This time it just happened faster than normal.

I suppose the key to starting mid game is hiding from established airlines while trying to be efficient as you grow patiently.  It is a fun challenge usually.

Offline Tha_Ape

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2019, 11:16:01 AM »
What I meant to say is that if a single route on which you suddenly see some competition is enough to make you plunge, there was something wrong in the first place. You've probably overexpanded too early, without the funds to cope with the inevitable initial losses one would take in such a situation.
And when you say that you possibly added 2 routes you shouldn't have, you're probably right. 2 less routes means more funds, means a better survivability in the beginning. And starting with LH is actually pretty dangerous, no matter what your competition does or doesn't do.

And the key to avoid "disasters", as you say, is to obviously respect a few basic rules of the game (use the right plane for the right task, pick your routes carefully, respect the fleet types limits, not opening a new base when you have only 10 planes total, etc.). But more important, to know when and where you should put your expansion on hold, wait for some more funds and RI to build up, consolidate your situation, and always, always keep a small buffer of money. Just in case. For example when you hit the first few C-check seasons, which are pretty harsh when you use old planes and you have just a handful of planes.

Online Nvoco

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2019, 12:14:09 PM »
That old plane C check lesson was very harsh the first time I encountered it.  One of my first games, last year, I had started in the early 90s and managed to find an airport that supported over twenty long range routes.  Old L1011-250s and -500 were the only planes I could afford and I had gotten them up to 65% fleet load factor.  Again with the expanded to quick... But I was thinking things were trending up until I had to start paying for 20+ year old wide body C checks.

 I may be a slow learner but I do take advice, so I really appreciate the replies.

Offline Stanley

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2019, 02:25:55 AM »
Don't be afraid to restart in a more suitable location, especially if you can identify a weaker competitor.

Don't worry about competitor's current size. Instead, pick the fight based on how well the airline is run. If they run four fleets, use unsuitable aircraft, or have low margin, they might not be able to compete effectively with you.

Check how often the competitor's owner come online. If the owner logs in multiple times a day, they will be able to react to new competitor and try to squeeze you out. On the other hand, if the owner logs on every other day, they won't even noticed you fast enough.

Check how many trunk short-haul routes you will have. As a new airline, it is hard to compete on long haul or thin short haul. But for fat trunk short-haul routes, it is pretty hard for competitors to push you out and you will get your fair market share.

Look for recent major bankruptcies. It may open up good opportunities in a nice location. But still scout the competitors first. The BK might have been caused by a very active/experienced/aggressive competitor which you might be better off staying away from.

All my advice is basically the same thing - find an airport where you can win against existing airline/player. Ignore the current size of their airline, and focus on identifying inefficient airlines or less-active opponents.

Offline tungstennedge

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2019, 07:28:17 PM »
I'm late to reply here, but I'm quite experienced at starting mid-game and growing into a giant. I start ~ 1984 in GW2 and am now fourth place In profit, and I have quite a few tips.

Firstly, dont be afraid of well run, high margin airlines. Infact, high margin well run airline are BY FAR imo the easiest to compete with, because if they are running at extremely high margins it means that the markets that airline fills are not oversupplied. I don't think you should view serviced demand as "untouchable" as along as it is now oversupplied above 170% it will be easy to make a profit.

Saying all this, it is still difficult to start and Immediately start competing, I recommend that you find some routes without competition/ or with low competition to start with. If you are interested in restarting at a larger base, and would like mentoring on how to compete with the larger guys Id be happy to help you find a base, and grow large. Personally I would choose Tokyo Narita right now because I see large gaps in the market that I could help you exploit.

Message me if you are interested.

Offline groundbum2

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2019, 06:48:36 PM »
Quote
serviced demand as "untouchable" as along as it is now oversupplied above 170%

I would respectfuly quibble with this statement.

AWS by and large divides the passengers evenly amongst the flights each day. So say a local route has 500 demand and 2x747s (400 seats) fly it. That would be 800/500 so 160% so technically not viable. But say a person put 5xF28 (90s) on the route. They'd get at least 50% of the daily traffic as the 500 pax would now be divided by 7 (2x747, 5xF28) so 71 pax per aircraft.

So when I'm eyeing up a route I look for pax/frequency and whether I could add my preferred aircraft and get a decent LF, and unmet demand (so 120 seats supplied on a 200 route demand for example).

Simon

Offline Andre090904

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2019, 07:35:39 PM »
Then again you need to look at staff. I pretty much used your point of view / strategy this current GW2 by flying NAMC where other people were flying 727/737/DC9 etc. It worked initially, but I needed TONS of NAMC to really cover the demand. As time goes by, this meant an insane number of staff, maintenance etc. There were moments when I did not even know how to fire all those people when I replaced NAMC by MD80. There were tens of thousands of staff which I needed to get rid off. Firing them at once is impossible unless you want a morale and CI of 0. In the end I just relied on the automatic staffing which is firing small portions every year.

So while this approach works in theory, it should be only used for rather small airlines and not in a big scale. Otherwise it really becomes counter-productive. Yes, nice LFs, but way too much staff costs and maintenance. Not to mention the nightmare of transitions...

I am still flying NAMC ~30 years later and really want them gone now. They still work, but it's time for a change.

Offline tungstennedge

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2019, 04:07:36 AM »
I would respectfuly quibble with this statement.

AWS by and large divides the passengers evenly amongst the flights each day.
Simon

I completely agree with this statement. However, me stating that any routes with below 170% oversupply were a massive simplification to avoid writing a mostly impressible essay about all the factors that should be considered. However, what I said is generally true in one form or another. 

Your example of 2x747 and 5Xf28 outlines this perfectly what one of the most important factors perfectly, and I completely agree that pax/freq is one of the most important. But lets we are the f28 player, then it is highly unlikely we will run into any route flown by smaller aircraft than us, meaning unless we truly did run into a route oversupplied purely by like 12 f28's on a 500 demand route, (which would almost never happen), then we could make money by adding f-28 flights.

However, what Andre said about using smaller fleets is true, it doesn't scale well and limits the size of airlines due to the insane number of staff, however, it still lowers your opponents profit far more than your own which is why it's so strong.

Another way I find is now a good strategy to overcome oversupplied long haul routes I've recently started using to compete with any player flying a dedicated freighter and pax plane on the same route, say a dc10-30 and 757f, are easy prey for dc-10C. While both players will fly nearly identical cargo and pax, the combi uses way less expenses and is far more profitable, meaning ive been able to add flights which are already 150% oversupplied in both cargo and pax. It's even has favorable economics when flying vs a dedicated 732F and 757 pax, like I'm competing with from ERW to Europe.

Basically what I was trying to say in the first post is profitable airlines shouldn't be feared, even if they have high margins, and have filled the demand of their bases. There is usually always room to grow with some expectations, like if the majority of the routes are truly oversupplied past ridiculous margins, (170% was just a random number I made up to illustrate a point), or there are no slots left. Otherwise its game on!

On a side note, I really do enjoy spamming frequency to ruin another airline, but for me, I've never run into the limiting factor of staff costs, but the reason why I don't do this very much is you will run out of base aircraft way to fast. Ran out in NA challenge. In MT I realized I would be limited by this so I only fly 757 and larger planes out of main base, and in GW2 I'm gonna try flying dc10-c domestically to reduce the out of base aircraft. Probably a suicide mission but i want to see how this turns out.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2019, 04:14:51 AM by tungstennedge »

Online Nvoco

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2019, 06:10:21 PM »
I've just noticed the new replies.  Thank you.  Great reads.

Offline ArcherII

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2019, 08:59:44 PM »
And don't lease airplanes from factory at first, specially those models still years away from certification!

Offline gazzz0x2z

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Re: How to start mid game?
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2019, 09:00:34 AM »
(.../...)So while this approach works in theory, it should be only used for rather small airlines and not in a big scale. Otherwise it really becomes counter-productive. Yes, nice LFs, but way too much staff costs and maintenance. Not to mention the nightmare of transitions...(.../...)

Indeed. I did hit the wall badly in current Modern times game. I had to replace all my J728s by bigger planes, mainly because of the out-of-HQ limit. In previous GW3, I spammed 900 S2000s throughout Europe, with 150 of them in MAD...and I was only at one third of the local big guy's market share. Mediums are perfect if you are not the big boy. When you begin to be the big boy, you need large toys.

 

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