Have American commercial airlines had any problems?

By Marc Sellouk, Founder and CEO of Flewber

Mutual Assured Destruction, or MAD, was a theory advanced by John von Neumann, who, among other notable accomplishments, was a Cold War strategist and chairman of the ICBM board until his death in 1957. Simply put, it is a theory that argues that, if armed with nuclear weapons, neither side has an incentive to start a conflict or disarm.

Why am I mentioning this in the context of an aviation business article, you ask? For me, it’s simple: the lack of incentive is a double-edged sword, preventing the destruction of superpowers, but at the same time preventing them from changing the status quo. For decades, commercial airlines have been the only game in town and as such have had no incentive to improve their product or improve the traveler’s experience. Gone is the laissez-faire leadership of yesteryear. Gone are, for the most part, the true pioneers and titans of this once iconic industry.

What remains is a changing industry.

Unless the industry’s commercial superpowers can adapt quickly to changing consumer demand, the change in the aviation market itself is the incentive that will be adopted by emerging competitors and trigger the eventual mutual destruction of inherited societies.

As the founder of a private aviation company, I tend to take the occasional peek into the commercial airline industry to catch up on what’s going on. Over the past few weeks, my attention to the star club has left me somewhat dumbfounded. While private aviation has never seemed to be on firmer footing, commercial airlines continue to make moves that seem to be, at best, done with crossed fingers, and at worst, guided by the wisdom of a Magic 8 Ball.

Just this month, Southwest announced it was cutting flights to many destinations, American Airlines signaled it was closing some of the same cargo locations that had helped it stay aloft during the pandemic, and United said it was adding some routes. If this “Less, None, More” approach makes no sense to you, you are not alone. While some of the woes of the commercial airline industry are certainly due to a pandemic hangover, rising inflation in the United States and a looming global financial crisis, I continue to believe that the primary cause is their inability to do something other than the same knee jerk. reactions to these troubled skies, which they have had during past periods of financial turmoil.

Private aviation companies, on the other hand, provide services specifically tailored to their customer base and know that they will be held to the task for every flight they operate. Ultimately, private aviation companies know that when stripped down to the bare essentials, service providers are all we are. And our livelihood is based solely on the level of service we provide. Unlike our commercial cousins, who exploit the programmed big birds and behave with the arrogance of a schoolyard bully when times are good, but instantly turn into a hat-in-hand brigade when times are bad. hard.

It is for these and myriad other reasons that more and more air travellers, who never considered the private side of the industry as an option, are now doing so, and others are following their lead. Thus, more and more private aviation companies are developing new, more cost-effective products not only to meet the increased demand that has developed, but also to attract more travellers. The only question that remains is what, if anything, the major airlines will do or be able to do to try to reverse this trend which has eroded consumer confidence and may lead to its destruction? Maybe we should ask the Magic 8 Ball.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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