Narrowbodies over Atlantic

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September 26th, 2017 at 5:53:59 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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I took another look at this idea of Transatlantic narrowbodies. Norwegian is putting 12 routes in from SWF, BDL, and PVD. They're configuration is actually 14 more seats than Southwest Airlines (that's 2.5 rows minus 1 seat). That makes them the "Spirit Airlines" of TransAtlantic travel. Since they have ordered 116 of these planes I assume they have larger plans in mind.

While Newark (EWR) is not as big of an international hub as JFK it is often more convenient to get to from NYC and in the 1930's was the only major commercial airport that served NYC. PEOPLExpress, was an American low-cost airline that operated from 1981 to 1987 from EWR, using nine B747s.

I was curious as to whether Norwegian could expand to other small airports, so I looked at traffic for March 2017 (latest available month).

There are essentially 15 daily flights from Newark to Britain and Ireland. Four are from foreign carriers (Air Ireland, 2 British Airways, 1 Virgin Atlantic) to Dublin and Heathrow. There are 11 on United. Five on B767s to Heathrow and five on B757s to small airports, and One flight to Dublin using a larger B777.

The B767s are outfitted with 211-214 seats, and the B757s are outfitted with 169 seats. The B757s go to
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Manchester, United Kingdom
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Shannon, Ireland

WHAT REALLY SHOCKED ME WAS the smaller B757s averaged 133 passengers (78% load factor), while the larger B767s averaged 129 passengers (61% load factor).

I don't know how much that varies month to month, but it seems to me that United is so desperate to keeping frequencies high and to have the larger planes to cater to fluctuations in business travel, that they are willing to tolerate such low load factors.

A United 767 is outfitted with 132-135 economy seats +49 economy plus seats + 30 business class seats. From Newark to London United is averaging 82 empty seats per flight (I don't know what class, but I would presume business class is fairly full to justify that many empty seats). All total United transports 129*5=645 people daily from Newark to London Heathrow (1 way only).

Obviously United is not interested in bigger jets, if they are already flying with such low load factors. Maybe Nareed is correct, and it makes sense to fly a bunch 737MAXs on the large hub to large hub route. United could fly six per day and use one of them with an all business class, "lie flat seat" configuration to cater to the elite bankers. Maybe they could fit in 60 luxury bed pods on one plane.

People's Express 747 after they went bankrupt and were taken over by Continental.
September 26th, 2017 at 6:41:36 PM permalink
DRich
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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I had no idea that People's Express had a 747. I only remember them as being the first U.S. budget airline and they charged for checked bags.
September 26th, 2017 at 9:03:09 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 763
Posts: 9026


Quote: DRich
I had no idea that People's Express had a 747. I only remember them as being the first U.S. budget airline and they charged for checked bags.


Freddies Laker would probably object as Laker airline began in 1966. Their Transatlantic planes were
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30

I don't think there was much choice in for economical Trans Atlantic flight in 1981 besides the B747 and trijet DC-10.

The ETOPS to permit trans-Atlantic flight of twin engine aircraft was not approved until 1985. The long range A300 twin engine was not being produced yet.

On May 26, 1983 People Express began non-stop flights from Newark to London's Gatwick Airport with a leased Boeing 747-227B previously operated by Braniff International Airways. Flights started at $149 each way. The airline was an instant success with all flights sold out.

But here we are 34 years later, and Norwegian is advertising these prices
Flights from New York-Newburgh-Stewart
$99 BFS Belfast United Kingdom
$109 BGO Bergen Norway
$99 DUB Dublin Ireland
$109 EDI Edinburgh United Kingdom
$99 SNN Shannon Ireland

Although to be fair, the lowest fare I could find round trip to Dublin was $240.70 incl. all taxes and surcharges

Norwegian has ordered 219 narrow bodies, and it looks like most are intended for TransAtlantic flight.
30 Airbus A321LR 220 seats
116 Boeing 737 MAX 8
63 Boeing 737-800
September 27th, 2017 at 7:51:50 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 332
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Quote: Pacomartin
I don't think there was much choice in for economical Trans Atlantic flight in 1981 besides the B747 and trijet DC-10.


L-1011 TriStar by Lockheed.

There were plenty of 707s and DC-8s still operational in the 80s, but I don't know how many were still used for transatlantic travel,
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 27th, 2017 at 9:27:42 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 332
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Quote: Pacomartin
Obviously United is not interested in bigger jets, if they are already flying with such low load factors. Maybe Nareed is correct, and it makes sense to fly a bunch 737MAXs on the large hub to large hub route. United could fly six per day and use one of them with an all business class, "lie flat seat" configuration to cater to the elite bankers. Maybe they could fit in 60 luxury bed pods on one plane.


I'm not sure an all-business class 737 would be a good idea. United is committed to the Polaris seat. How does that fit on a 737? NYC-London is the premiere US-Europe route. The current standard for business class is all-aisle access. To do that on a 737 you need to configure them 1-1. BA gets away with a 2-2 on a narrow body, because their business class on wide bodies is not all-aisle access (as far as I know).

More likely they could add a couple of 737s on a two-class configuration, with only 4 to 6 Polaris seats on 1-1, which might cost more than on a wide body.

The premium class is part of what keeps legacy airlines from using narrow bodies on transatlantic routes. Though American's three-class A321-T in use for transcontinental travel could easily be used for transatlantic.

And Jet Blue's Mint aircraft can likewise be placed into transatlantic service right away. I'm a bit surprised they haven't already done so.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 27th, 2017 at 10:01:39 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Nareed, does it surprise you that United operates five flights a day from Newark (NYC area) to London with almost 40% of seats empty?

Passengers per flight average
129 United on B767 normally
179 British Airways on Dreamliner and B777 normally
196 Virgin Atlantic on Dreamliner normally

Flights from Newark to London Heathrow LEAVE TIME
08:30 AM United =================== Sole daytime flight
06:10 PM United
06:20 PM British Airways
06:45 PM United
09:30 PM British Airways
09:35 PM United
10:00 PM Virgin Atlantic
10:05 PM United

Norwegian is planning Trans-Atlantic flights with 189 seas in MAX737, which I assume they are expecting to fill an average of 170 seats. ULCC try for 90% loads.

Normally JFK carries 3X as many passengers to London as Newark Airport on four different carriers: British Airways, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Delta.
September 27th, 2017 at 10:25:59 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 332
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Quote: Pacomartin
Nareed, does it surprise you that United operates five flights a day from Newark (NYC area) to London with almost 40% of seats empty?


A little.

But United's hub at Newark is relatively small, as I understand, and they operate from other hubs like Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.


Quote:
Norwegian is planning Trans-Atlantic flights with 189 seas in MAX737, which I assume they are expecting to fill an average of 170 seats. ULCC try for 90% loads.


Norwegian is finding all the growth it can. We'll see how many more ULCCs follow int he narrow body transatlantic market.

It may be they'll pressure Boeing and airbus for a narrow body that can handle 180 passengers from LHR to LAX non-stop ;)
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 29th, 2017 at 11:38:24 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 763
Posts: 9026



Consider international routes to/from the USA that are 3001-3500 statute miles
In 2016 that was 12,841,978 seats and 10,075,439 passengers.
In 2016 the number one airplane for this route is a Boeing 757 most of which have an average of 20 years.
The destination of the majority of these passengers was:

61.86% United Kingdom
14.24% Ireland
5.24% Portugal
4.06% Peru
3.97% Panama
3.43% France
2.54% Netherlands
1.16% Canada
1.03% Bolivia
0.83% Colombia

Only 3.9% of these passengers traveled on a Boeing 737-800 because of range limitations,
This market is the target for 737 Max.
September 30th, 2017 at 8:03:15 AM permalink
Ayecarumba
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 85
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Does United need to maintain a certain number of flights to hold their gate position? It could also be the case that the planes are used on other international routes rather than turning around and coming right back. There is a reason for operating at a loss on this leg.
September 30th, 2017 at 12:24:58 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 763
Posts: 9026
Quote: Ayecarumba
Does United need to maintain a certain number of flights to hold their gate position? It could also be the case that the planes are used on other international routes rather than turning around and coming right back. There is a reason for operating at a loss on this leg.


Load Factors & Average number of seats into London Heathrow all USA destinations
83.7% 289 British Airways Plc
74.7% 282 Virgin Atlantic Airways
71.2% 272 American
63.5% 223 United
62.7% 217 Delta

Load Factors & Average number of seats into London Gatwick all USA destinations
91.7% 325 Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA
91.3% 322 Thomas Cook Airlines Uk Ltd.
82.9% 455 Virgin Atlantic Airways


I checked the database for other months, and other airports, and I think my original gut reaction is correct. United and Delta have to get the high paying businessmen to London Heathrow. Businessmen also desire frequency. So they fly smaller planes that are nearly 40% empty.

American Airlines does slightly better because they have a code sharing agreement with British Airways.

London Gatwick is more of the vacation airport with flights to Florida, Las Vegas, and low cost flights. The airlines fly planes with more economy seats and dense configurations that have higher load factors. Thomas Cook only flies to Orlando.


===========

Quote: Nareed
I'm not sure an all-business class 737 would be a good idea. United is committed to the Polaris seat. How does that fit on a 737? NYC-London is the premiere US-Europe route. The current standard for business class is all-aisle access. To do that on a 737 you need to configure them 1-1. BA gets away with a 2-2 on a narrow body, because their business class on wide bodies is not all-aisle access (as far as I know).

More likely they could add a couple of 737s on a two-class configuration, with only 4 to 6 Polaris seats on 1-1, which might cost more than on a wide body.

The premium class is part of what keeps legacy airlines from using narrow bodies on transatlantic routes. Though American's three-class A321-T in use for transcontinental travel could easily be used for transatlantic.

And Jet Blue's Mint aircraft can likewise be placed into transatlantic service right away. I'm a bit surprised they haven't already done so.


The idea of flying planes with only premium seating has been used sparingly. Some examples:
Frankfurt to Pune India, "Oxford of the East" (48 seats) Long Range A319
Stockholm to Boston (86 seats)
JFK to London City Airport "Bankers Express" (32 seats)
NYC/LAX to Singapore nonstop in 2008 (100 seats)
Houston to Stavanger, in southwestern Norway (44 seats), is one of the bigger cities in a region that includes Norway's lucrative North Sea oil reserves.

The route is one that appeals to businessmen willing to pay a lot of money to avoid lengthy connections between major hubs.



Houston to Stavanger is a whopping 4,845 miles which is much further than you would imagine a B737 could travel in 2014. They probably had an additional fuel tank to make the trip in addition to only carrying 48 people. SAS dropped the route when the oil business softened,

Now NAS is flying from Stewart NY to Bergen (100 miles from Stavanger), but more as a seasonal vacation destination.

Frankfurt to Pune is 4,158 miles, once again a long distance except for the limited load.

Stockholm to Boston is 3,739 miles. A B737 can make it with 86 seats instead of more than twice that number in a normal configuration.

Bombardier is hoping to capitalize on this trend by serving London City Airport from JFK with their new jets.

Nareed's misgivings make some sense, but I am not completely convinced . Emirates seems to do so well with their 90 seats on the upper deck of the A380, Dubai to London Heathrow is only 3421 miles, perhaps they can do this on the cheap with an all premium B737 (3452 mile) JFK-LHR route now that narrowbodies can reliably that far. However, it would be less than 90 seats and there would be no shower.
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