Freight Brokerage Business Plan
Silicon Freight Brokers (SFB) is a specialized freight broker service located in Hood River, OR. The company has been set up as an Oregon C Corporation by the owner, Steve Tookarefol. SFB’s objective is to become the premier silicon chip freight broker, increasing their client base by 20% a year.
Freight Brokers and Silicon Chips
The freight broker industry is the middle man of the shipping industry. They are also known as third party transportation providers. Freight brokers provide a service by linking customers with shippers and trucking companies. Their service is indispensable when moving goods throughout this country as there are literally hundreds of different shippers offering thousands of different services. The freight brokers make the process of securing a shipper quite easy with one-stop shopping.
The silicon chip industry is a growing industry that to a large degree has fueled the incredible growth of the late 90’s Internet boom. Silicon chips are the basis of all types of computers as well as hand held devices such as cell phones, PDAs, even watches and some household appliances.
SFB will be occupying a niche within the general freight brokerage market by specializing in the shipment of silicon chips. Silicon chips are very specific, unusual cargo that requires special attention. The chips have a very narrow range of temperature and humidity parameters that must be maintained. In addition to these unusual requirements, there are other specific needs that silicon chip companies have. By specializing on silicon chips as their only cargo, SFB will quickly gain market share and be known as the premier broker for chips.
The industry of chips is comprised of two distinct customers, manufacturers of chips and purchasers of chips. The manufacturers are based in the USA, however some of them produce in the States while others farm out production overseas and them import them. The chip purchasers are primarily Intel, IBM, and Motorola.
SFB is led by a seasoned management team of Steve and Wendy Tookarefol. Steve has over 10 years of freight experience, working for several different companies. This work experience has been instrumental in allowing Steve to accurately determine the market need and meet it. SFB has coupled Steve’s in-depth trucking/ freight brokerage knowledge and insight with his wife’s expertise in the silicon chip industry. For the last seven years Wendy has been an industry consultant, working quite close with companies such as Intel.
SFB’s solid business model is forecasted to reach profitability by month six. SFB will achieve market penetration by remaining laser focused on their market niche, while fully utilizing their strong management team.
Silicon Freight Brokers objectives from the first three years of operation include:
- To create a service-based company whose #1 ambition is to continually exceed the customer’s expectations.
- The utilization of Silicon Freight Brokers in at least four of the top 10 silicon chip producers, as listed in Silicon Industry Journal.
- To increase our number of served clients by 20% per year through superior performance and word of mouth referrals.
- To develop a sustainable, profitable, start-up business.
The Silicon Freight Brokers’ mission is to provide the customer with the most satisfying shipping experience that they have ever experienced. We exist to attract and maintain customers. When we adhere to this maxim, everything else will fall into place. Our services will exceed the expectations of our customers.
Silicon Freight Brokers, as the name implies, is a freight broker for the silicon chip industry. SFB has two types of customers, buyers and sellers of silicon chips. SFB is establishing relationships with carriers that specialize in this unique cargo. We will offer our customers the highest level of service.
2.1 Start-up Summary
Silicon Freight Brokers’ (SFB) start-up costs include all the equipment needed for an office. Additionally, there will be legal fees, marketing fees, accounting fees, trade association dues, and deposit for the lease. The largest expense for the office is a computer system. The minimum requirements for this system are: 600 mhz Pentium processor, 128 megabytes RAM, 10 gigabyte hard drive, printer, and CD-RW, Microsoft Office, and an accounting suite. The office will also require a DSL broadband connection, two land-line phones, fax machine, copier machine, and some office furniture. The legal fees are for corporate formation, and the generation and review of contracts. The marketing fees are the costs associated with advertisements in industry journals, brochures, and website visibility generation. The accounting fees are for the services necessary for the formation of the business, while the majority of the accounting after start up will be done in-house with an accounting suite on the computer.
Silicon Freight Brokers is a niche freight broker for the silicon chip industry. SFB will provide a brokerage service to link manufacturers of silicon computer chips and the users of the chips such as Intel, Texas Instruments and Motorola with freight companies. Freight brokers are basically the “middle man” between a shipper and trucking company, also referred to as “third party transportation providers.” SFB will work with companies to find a safe, economical way of transporting silicon chips. SFB will have two types of customers:
- Silicon chip manufacturers. These can be further broken down into two categories, those that manufacture overseas, and those that manufacture in the U.S.
- Manufacturers of processors that utilize silicon chips.
Market Analysis Summary
Silicon Freight Brokers will be concentrating on the freight brokerage of silicon chips. This is a small, specialized, niche of the general freight brokerage industry. SFB is concentrating on this space for several reasons:
- SFB has extensive industry knowledge and insight regarding freight brokerage and silicon chips.
- The silicon chip industry is continuing to grow as our dependence on technology increases.
- There is plenty of space for a new specialty freight brokerage company. SFB’s extensive knowledge of both the freight and chip industry provides for valuable insights that can add significant value to SFB’s customers.
4.1 Market Segmentation
Silicon Freight Brokers will be focusing solely on the freight brokerage of silicon chips. There are two distinct customers in this niche market, manufacturers of the chips, and the buyers of the chips who are processor manufacturers. The manufacturers of the chips can be further broken down into two groups, those that have manufacturing facilities abroad and those in the U.S. Those that have facilities abroad will generally ship them to a United States ocean port, and from there they travel via truck to a processor manufacturer. The second group of chip manufacturers, those that have facilities in the U.S., transport chips via truck from their facility to the processor manufacturer. Although, in general, silicon chip production has shifted overseas, there are a collection of chip manufacturers still located in the States. The difference between the two types is not very significant, SFB arranges for the carrier to pick up the chips either off the boat or from the manufacturing facility. Whether SFB deals with the manufacturer or the seller is a function of the contractual terms that the buyer and seller agree to. Sometimes it is the manufacturer’s obligation to ship, other times it is the buyer’s obligation to arrange pick up of the chips. The chip buyers are manufacturers that use the chips in their processors. The largest processor manufacturers, Intel, Texas Instruments and Motorola, are located in the U.S.
4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy
Silicon Freight Brokers is concentrating on the silicon chips niche as it is a very specialized, thriving market. By focusing in this market space, SFB will be able to offer superior service. Shipping of silicon chips requires special types of trucks that are humidity and temperature controlled. SFB will form intimate relationships with the unique carriers because this relationship will provide SFB with special insight, which will allow SFB to meet any need a customer might have. Shipping silicon chips has special requirements and SFB will be more familiar with these requirements because it will not be distracted by offering other services. Specialization also allows SFB to develop close relationships to the limited number of carriers that are equiped to transport chips. Lastly, the growth of processor manufacturing, which requires silicon chips, has far outpaced most other industries in this country. This growth rate makes this niche especially attractive. In the freight broker market, there are general brokers that offer a wide range of services. There are a few companies that specialize, but no one is as niche focused as SFB. Because most all of the silicon chips are transported through the U.S. via trucks, there is considerable growth in the specialty freight brokerage business. SFB will be marketing our business through several different outlets. The first is the Internet. A lot of the industry has moved to the Web as means for communication regarding freight quotes. SFB will be developing a website where a customer can go to find out an estimate for freight rates. The website would key for finding the requisite information like weight, pick up and destination, and SFB would work with our carriers to find them the most safe and economical solution. Because SFB is only working with silicon chips, the complexity of the number and type of trucks to be used (non-temperature controlled, etc.) is reduced. SFB will also be running advertisements in silicon chip trade journals. The ads in the silicon chip journals will provide visibility for SFB to the manufacturers and buyers of the chips.
4.3 Service Business Analysis
There are many different freight brokerage services. This market is broken up into generalists, handling all types of freight brokerage, and specialists, handling materials ranging from heavy equipment, oversized loads, perishable commodities, or hazardous materials. The chip buyers and sellers make the shipping decision based on service (defined by many variables including customer service, speed, safety of the product) and price. Most business is repeat business, 70-80% according to industry statistics. Once a customer finds someone who they are happy with, they typically stay with them.
Auto Repair Shop Business Plan Sample
Start up an auto repair shop using this detailed sample business plan.
Start up an auto repair shop using this detailed sample business plan. Use this example to compile your own.
F & R Auto (F & R) is the desire of John Ford and Michael Ronald who together have 30 years experience as auto mechanics. Both have a dream of starting up their own company and offering better service to their clients than competitors.
The objectives over the next three years for F & R Auto Repair are the following:
- Sales revenues increase steadily through year three.
- Institute a program of superior customer service through rigorous evaluation of service experience.
- Hire three more mechanics.
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1.2 Keys to Success
In the auto repair industry a company builds its client base one customer at a time and mostly through word of mouth marketing. With this in mind, the keys to success for F & R Auto Repair are:
- High-quality work.
- Constant contact with clients so as to keep them informed about the state of their automobile and the repair job progress.
- Knowledgeable mechanics that are friendly, customer oriented, and will take the time to explain to customer the intricate nature of our business and our work.
The mission of F & R Auto Repair is to provide high quality, convenient and comprehensive auto repair at low cost. The most important aspect of our business is trust. It is the goal of our firm to have 100% customer satisfaction in regards to quality, friendliness, time to completion and to discover new ways to exceed the expectations of our clients.
The company will be a partnership with John Ford and Michael Ronald each owning 50% of the company. The company will be a limited liability company registered in the state of Washington. The firm will have facilities on 1312 1st Ave NW in Ballard, a neighbourhood of Seattle.
The facilities will contain a two-bay garage, office space and storage space for tools, parts, etc. The company is seeking a loan in order to finance the start of operations for the company. Each of the owners will be putting up some of their own capital as equity.
2.1 Start-up Summary
The data obtained for the start-up comes from research done in the Seattle area with other small mechanic shops who have started their own business. Inflation has been taken into account between the estimates of these fellow business owners (and when they started) and the current prices for expensed items. Much of the equipment to go into the facilities such as tools, air compressors, etc., are currently owned by the two partners.
Related: SWOT Analysis Samples
F & R Auto offers a wide range of services as outlined in the detailed sections below. It is ultimately the goal of the company to offer a one-stop facility for all auto servicing needs, including brakes, transmission, wheel alignment, etc. In this way the company can offer greater perceived value for the customer than many other shops which specialise in certain areas.
The industry is highly competitive with suppliers having a great deal of power in setting and negotiating the prices of their products and services to repair shops. In addition, because the customers see the service as undifferentiated and a “commodity” with little value separation between competitors, buyer power is also very high.
Finally, the barriers to entry are moderately low, and the large number of competitors in this field, including substitutes (such as do-it-yourself work) mean that the pricing for such services are very competitive. The only way to have an advantage in this industry is a low cost leadership principal applied aggressively or to create higher switching costs through the building of strong business to customer ties.
F & R Auto will hire trained and certified mechanics who are able to prove they have superior customer awareness and interaction. It is the company’s professional people who will fulfill the firm’s contracts and goals. The largest part of the company’s expenses will be in labor costs.
Related: 9 Different Kinds Of SME Funding
3.1 Service Description
F & R Auto provides a wide range of auto repair services. These include:
- Scheduled maintenance.
- Wheel alignments, tires and rims.
- Brake repair.
- Comprehensive engine repair.
Each job or project will be on a reservation basis, although we will accept a small percentage of drive in repair work.
3.2 Competitive Comparison
The auto repair industry is highly competitive. Each company within this field has high capital costs, low margins, and a high intensity of competition.
Suppliers have a great deal of power in setting and negotiating the prices of their products and services to repair shops. This is due to the fact that the suppliers who absorb the greatest amounts of cash from repair shops are large auto part companies. These companies are more consolidated that the repair industry, have deeper pockets, an almost limitless number of substitute customers, and finally they are the single most important supplier to F & R’s industry. Therefore, these companies can set whatever price they wish to. Furthermore, labor is a supplier in this industry as well, and salaries for such individuals are well known and not very flexible.
In addition, because the customers see the service as undifferentiated and a “commodity” with little value separation between competitors (if they offer a suitable level of quality) buyer power is also very high.
Additionally, the costs of our services are not cheap, and buyers are willing to search for the most favourable combination of price and acceptable service. The barriers to entry and exit are moderately low in this industry. Switching costs are virtually non-existent and the costs to entry and exist the market are low.
The large number of competitors in this field including substitutes mean that the pricing for such services are very competitive. The only way to have an advantage in this industry is a low cost leadership principal applied aggressively to all aspects of the business or to build up customer relations to a point where the switching costs are raised.
The technological revolution in computers has enhanced our abilities to diagnose and repair our clients vehicles. F &R will remain on the cutting edge by instituting the use of computer diagnostic equipment in its shop. The company will continue to seek new ways to provide a better service through technology.
3.4 Future Services
The company does not have any plans to create further services at this time.
4Market Analysis Summary
Since F & R will be able to service any vehicle on the road, including motorcycles and campers, it does not make any sense to segment our market. Our potential customer includes every household in Seattle that owns one or more vehicles. The industry does not have any seasonality that affects it.
Trucking Business Plan Sample
Use this sample business plan to get your trucking business on the road.
Use this sample business plan to get your trucking business on the road. Use this example to compile your own.
Mike’s Trucking Service is a Dallas, TX based trucking company that aims to be one of the largest trucking companies in the USA. Mike’s is initially focusing on the food industry with plans to diversify with new industries served.
Mike’s has chosen the trucking industry as the growth prospects are encouraging and stable, with trucking dominating the freight industry in this country.
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Mike’s will offer both for-hire trucking as well as private carriers. Most of their business will be derived from the private carriers. For the private carrier segment, both truck load (TL) and less than truck load (LTL) will be offered. Mike’s services will be especially attractive to the food industry, as participants in that industry typically use referrals, reputation, and customer service as purchasing variables.
Mike’s will serve four different market segments. The first, as mentioned earlier is the food industry. This segment is growing at an annual rate of 3% with 3000 potential customers identified. The second segment is the computer industry with a 5 % growth rate and 1500 possible customers. The retail industry is the third with a 2% growth rate and 1500 customers. The last segment is a catch all “other” segment growing at 2% and 500 customers.
Mike’s Trucking is lead by Mike Smith, a 15 year industry veteran. After college Mike went to work for C&F trucking as a driver for two years. Mike felt that it was instrumental to have experience within an industry at all levels. It was quickly obvious that Mike has skills beyond driving trucks and moved into management for three years.
After five years at C&F it was time for a change and Mike went to Yellow to manage their Southwest region operations. It was ten years of experience at Yellow that provided Mike with the skill sets, experience, and confidence to decide to open his own trucking company business.
Mike’s will employ three distinct marketing efforts to raise awareness about the company and generate new customers. The first strategy is the use of promotions. This will focus on press releases and advertising using various different media. The second effort will be the use of incentives. The incentives will be offered to existing customers. The last effort will be printed brochures. These will be distributed to new and existing customers.
Mike’s Trucking Service is a customer-centric organisation looking to become one of the premier trucking companies in the USA. Profitability is forecasted to occur at month three. Mike’s has conservatively projected sales of $100,000 for year one and $400,000 for year three.
The mission of Mike’s Trucking is to be the leading trucking company servicing the United States.
Mike’s Trucking Service is a Texas LLC, with principal offices located in Dallas, Texas. Mike Smith, president and CEO, is the majority owner. He has been in the trucking business for 15 years.
2.1 Company History
Mike’s Trucking has been in business for one year. We have maintained financial stability during the first year of operation due to the extensive industry experience of our management team.
The trucking industry provides transportation services for persons or companies looking to haul heavy things. Mike’s Trucking enables someone to lease a truck, of any size, for any project that needs hauling.
We will provide this service to the whole of the Dallas area, and hope to expand from this base area within the first five years of operation. This service is provided on two bases: for-hire and private carriers.
Of these two segments, Mike’s Trucking will concentrate on the for-hire carriers, and, more specifically, the truckload (TL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) segments. The services offered, and the markets being targeted, are discussed throughout the following section.
4Market Analysis Summary
Mike’s Trucking has an opportunity to entrench its competitive position in the regional transportation market by selectively focusing its target market on the food industry. The company has already had experience in servicing such clients and it believes that there is a growing demand for reliable transportation solutions in this customer segment.
4.1 Market Segmentation
There are several potential customer segments that we will provide our transportation services to. Major customer segments include the food industry, PC and semiconductor manufacturers, and retailers. The chart and table below outline the current market size and growth estimates for these customer segments in Texas.
Large established companies in the afore-mentioned segments (especially in the food industry) have their own truck fleets, while smaller players outsource the transportation function. The latter vary in the scale of their operations, but have a steady demand for reliable transportation solutions. We will actively solicit such customers.
Related: Free SWOT Analysis Template
4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy
Mike’s Trucking will focus its marketing budget on a selected industry niche. A narrow-served market focus will help strengthen the company’s reputation of a reliable transportation services provider and will generate favourable referrals.
The major customer segment the company is focusing on is the food industry. Companies in this segment have varying needs, and Mike’s Trucking has already gained valuable experience serving such customers. The company management believes that by increasing its truck fleet it can capture additional clients and provide better service to existing clients.
4.3 Service Business Analysis
Market Description Industry: Trucking, except local Establishments that are primarily engaged in furnishing “over-the-road” trucking services or trucking and storage services for freight generally weighing more than 100 pounds. Such operations are principally outside a single municipality, group of contiguous municipalities, or municipality and its suburban areas.
4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns
Although there are major players in each of the commercial carrier market segments, the market remains highly fragmented. According to the Dallas Yellow Pages, there are numerous companies providing different kinds of the trucking services. Major competitors for Mike’s Trucking are those companies who have comparable truck fleets and are also targeting the food industry.
Market research shows that customers in the food industry are price sensitive, and they value on-time deliveries, special handling capabilities, and less-than-truckload orders. Customer referrals and carrier’s reputation are believed to strongly influence the buying decision.
4.3.2 Financial Risks and Contingencies
The company recognises that it is subject to both market and industry risks. The two primary risks to the company are:
Industry concentration risk. The company is mainly focused on food industry businesses in the United States. This position is favourable since the industry is fairly stable. Any slow down in the food production would have negative repercussions for Mike’s Trucking. To mitigate this risk, the company is looking at diversifying its trucking business to include other industries as well. Operational risk. Mike’s Trucking recognises the fact that there is an inherent risk in transporting cargo. Any damage to cargo may undermine the profitable of the company. To reduce this risk, the company maintains all necessary insurance.
4.3.3 Business Participants
With some $344 billion in 1998 revenues, the trucking (or motor carrier) business claimed 79% of the U.S. commercial freight transportation market. This total was divided among two sectors: private carriage and for hire.
Although private carriers comprise the largest component of the motor-carrier industry, financial information isn’t available for them. However, the industry is estimated to provide services valued at some $200 billion annually (or 58% of motor carrier revenues in 1998). The American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates that there are more than three million trucks operated by private fleets transporting 3.5 billion tons of freight annually.
The for-hire category generated $144 billion in 1998, or 42% of the industry total. Of that $144 billion, some $105 billion (73% of the sector’s business) came from truckload shipments, and $39 billion (27%) was from less-than-truckload and package/express delivery.
Truckload (TL). The national for-hire truckload segment had total revenues of $65 billion in 1998. The TL sector has historically been mostly privately owned, with the exception of the top ten publicly-owned companies (For this reason, we focused on the LTL sector in this survey). Schneider National Carriers was the largest TL operator, with revenues of $2.8 billion in 1998, followed by J.B. Hunt Transport Services ($1.8 billion), and the Landstar family of truckload-carriers ($1.3 billion). Of the 50,000 truck load carriers, perhaps 95% had annual revenues of less than $1 million. Less-than-truckload (LTL). The ATA estimates that the less-than-truckload market garnered $20 billion in 1998. Of this amount, the fast-growing regional segment accounted for slightly more than the national market.
The largest national LTL carrier was Roadway Express Inc., with $2.32 billion in LTL revenues in 1998; the company’s total revenue of $2.55 billion includes TL freight. Yellow Freight System (a unit of Yellow Corporation) was close behind, with $2.25 billion (out of $2.46 billion total). Consolidated Freightways Corporation was third, with $1.95 billion in LTL revenues. In the regional LTL market, Con-Way Transportation (a unit of CNF Transportation Inc.) was the largest player, with $1.5 billion in LTL revenue in 1998. Second place belonged to US Freightways, whose family of five carriers generated some 41.4 billion in LTL revenue. American Freightways Corporation was third, with $928 million in less-than-truckload revenues.
Airline Business Plan
A sample business plan to assist you in starting up your own airline.
Airline Business Plan
Market factors favor inauguration of a new airline to meet the demand for additional, higher-quality passenger and cargo service linking Western Europe with the rapidly expanding markets of Southeastern Europe and Turkey, and linking Southeastern European destinations, via Western European hubs, to trans-Atlantic and global destinations.
This new airline will base its business and marketing strategies on achieving high, and profitable, load factors through absorption of unmet demand in three key air-traffic categories: unserved and under-served routes on which high unmet demand currently exists or can be readily developed; serving key niche markets where demand is either unmet or poorly served; and meeting peak traffic demands on certain key regional, seasonal, and variable routes where very high load factors can be predicted despite existing but lower-quality competition, or where competition cannot meet the demand.
In addition, the proposed new airline will be designed around, and operated utilizing, the most up-to-date electronic, informational, and aviation technologies to ensure low operating and marketing costs, maximum efficiency in deployment of its resources, and a high level of customer service and convenience. And it is this final element – dedicating the airline, its staff, and its organization to providing a high level of customer service and convenience, and efficiently meeting the needs, wants, comfort, and safety of the passenger – that will assure the proposed airline’s rapid acceptance in the marketplace and its long-term growth and success.
Particularly in the post-09/11/01 environment, experience in Europe has shown that those carriers which can maintain a “mean-and-lean” operation while still meeting the needs and desires of the traveling public, with the right fares, will not only survive, but can prosper.
The six key characteristics leading to the success and profitability of this new carrier will be:
- Provision of high-quality service on routes and in markets that currently are either unserved, poorly served, or under-subscribed by existing carriers, thereby setting both a new trend and a new pace in air service to and within the Southeastern European region.
- Employment of cost-effective, up-to-date regional aircraft that will be sized right for the market and the route, leading to higher load factors, reduced costs, improved efficiency and flexibility, greater passenger comfort and satisfaction, and higher net profits. Outfitting these aircraft with the latest aviation technologies and navigational equipment will help ensure the highest level of reliability, punctuality, safety, and customer satisfaction.
- Utilization of the latest electronic and informational technologies in sales and marketing; reservations, ticketing and check-in; scheduling and resource planning; cargo tracking; and operational oversight. Such techniques as internet marketing, reservations, and sales; electronic ticketing and check-in; online quality control, resource planning, operational oversight, cargo and baggage tracking, and customer service, all will reduce staffing requirements while offering ease-of-use and greatly enhanced access by, and convenience to, the customer.
- Recognition that not everyone is geared for the electronic world, leading the proposed airline to provide a high level of non-electronic service as well, particularly to the many newer, less-experienced travelers – but future loyal customers – found in the region.
- Ensuring a friendly, cooperative, enjoyable, yet highly professional face to the customer.
- Development and implementation of cooperations, associations, and partnerships with other larger, more established, and highly regarded airlines both within and beyond the region to provide an extensive range of connections, through fares, frequent-flyer mileage sharing, and other passenger and client advantages through interline arrangements, code shares, common hubbing, and so forth.
In short, the goal of this new airline is to be known to the passenger and the cargo customer by its proposed motto: “We’ve got a job to do, and we do it every day – for you!”
A key element contributing to the success of this new carrier will be its organizational and management team. Leading this team is Balkan Consortium Holdings USA, Inc. (BalkConsort), a U.S. corporation that is regionally based in Southeast Europe and which knows the region and its business needs. BalkConsort, together with its partner companies and associations throughout the countries of Southeast Europe and beyond, identifies business and profit opportunities and develops projects and strategic partnerships to implement and benefit from them.
As explained in the Company Summary that follows later in this business plan, BalkConsort USA’s interest and ownership in the proposed airline will transfer first to a new off-shore holding company, BC Holdings International Ltd, and then to a daughter company registered in a member state of the European Union (“BalkConsort EU”), both of which will be established prior to the airline’s start-up. Due to current European Union requirements that E.U. nationals hold the majority interest in an E.U.-flagged carrier, and the importance of an E.U. air operators certificate (AOC) to the new airline’s overall business plan, a majority ownership stake in the new airline, either directly or through “BC Holdings EU,” must be by E.U. nationals.
Joining the BalkConsort USA/BC Holdings International team are aviation, finance, and marketing experts with long and successful track records, including extensive experience organizing and managing other start-up airlines of both a regional and global scope. This organizational and management team, which is described in greater detail in the section of the business plan dealing with the Management Team, will help reduce the risk and ensure the success of the proposed new carrier.
The proposed airline will have as its primary objectives the following elements:
- To establish and operate a new regional airline aiming specifically at linking Western Europe with the rapidly expanding markets of Southeastern Europe and Turkey, and linking Southeastern European destinations, via Western European hubs, to trans-Atlantic and global destinations.
- To provide service and absorb unmet demand in three key traffic categories: unserved and under-served routes on which high demand currently exists or can be developed; serving key niche markets where demand is either unmet or poorly served; and meeting peak traffic demands on certain key regional, seasonal, and variable routes where very high load factors can be predicted despite existing, but lower-quality, competition.
- To implement an organizational and marketing strategy that will, beginning in the first year of flight operations, achieve average passenger load factors in the 65-85 percent range, depending on route and season, and increasing thereafter to the 75-90 percent range, thereby maximizing revenues and return on investment while minimizing risk.
- To achieve revenues in excess of [XYZ] million USD per quarter within the first six months of flight operations, and exceeding [XYZ] million USD per quarter, by the end of the first year.
- To achieve net operating profits in the [XYZ] percent range within the first 12 months of flight operations, an annualized return-on-investment of approximately [XYZ] percent by the end of the second year of operations, and steady growth enabling rational expansion of the airline thereafter.
- To achieve the projected results starting with three mid-to-large-size regional aircraft, growing to five by the end of the first year of operations, similar to the 99-passenger British Aerospace Avro RJ100 or 85 – 99-seat Avro RJ85 regional jet aircraft, obtained on either a dry-lease or purchase basis; supplementing those aircraft with larger, longer-range passenger aircraft and cargo liners on a charter or wet-lease basis to serve peak-demand and intermittent routes and periods, as well as cargo demands, as called for by the business plan; and incrementally expanding the fleet size and scope on a dry-lease or purchase basis to at least double its initial capacity by the beginning of the third year of operations to accommodate projected passenger and cargo growth in the business plan’s out-years.
- To gear operations, and present a professional, serious, growth-oriented image from the outset, that will set the stage for reasoned, planned expansion, mirroring growth rates projected for the first year of operations, and that will enable the airline to extend its regional scope and, in future years, to transition from its initial regional status into a larger continental and intercontinental carrier.
- As an element critical to achieving the airline’s other key objectives, to identify and develop key interline alliances, cooperations, associations, and partnerships with other larger, more established, and highly regarded airlines both within and beyond the target region that will enable the proposed airline to provide an extensive range of connections, through fares, frequent-flyer mileage sharing, and other passenger and client advantages through interline arrangements, code shares, common hubbing, and so forth.
The proposed new airline’s mission, simply stated, is to fill a niche in the growing air-travel and cargo markets linking Western Europe, and points beyond, to Southeastern Europe and Turkey; to achieve high, and profitable, load factors by identifying and serving key routes and city pairs currently unserved, under-served, or poorly served, and where significant unmet demand exists; and to set a new standard for air service and professionalism both within the target market region and beyond.
By utilizing the latest aviation, electronic, and informational technologies, and by designing effective and efficient systems and building in quality control from the outset, we aim to ensure the highest level of service, operations, and safety, all based around the needs, wants, comfort, and convenience of the passenger and the cargo client. This combination of technology, service orientation, and quality oversight will help keep costs at a minimum and maximize profits to the airline and its investors. It also will help build the strong customer satisfaction and excellent reputation that will enable the airline to build solid, and crucially important, interline arrangements necessary to expand its scope and customer attraction in the early stages, and which will lead to continued long-term growth both within the target market area and, looking toward the future, beyond.
In short, this airline wants to be known by its proposed guiding motto: “We’ve got a job to do, and we do it every day – for you!”
1.3 Keys to Success
In descending order of importance, the five critical keys to success for the proposed new regional airline are:
- Employing an experienced, highly professional management team that combines vision; realism; financial ability; solid knowledge of the aviation business; familiarity with, and belief in, the utilization and benefits of the latest aviation, electronic, and informational technologies; on-the-ground knowledge of the region and markets to be served; realization of the crucial importance of an organization’s personnel to its success; and a total familiarity with, and commitment to, the overall mission and goals of the proposed new airline.
- Intelligent, progressive, and aggressive marketing that identifies the airline as a different kind of player, one that is sharper and smarter, and with a higher level of professionalism and operational standard than is the norm in the target region. Concentration on safety, with highly trained, dedicated, and professional personnel, caring for the passenger and the passenger’s needs and wants, the advantages offered by advanced technology, and straightforward, understandable, highly competitive tariffs and fare pricing, all will form key pillars of the marketing strategy.
- Identification, through careful market research, of unserved or under-served routes and city pairs in the target market area with sufficient passenger demand to enable high load factors and profitable operations utilizing the category of aircraft envisaged.
- Use of an all-jet fleet of newer, modern, Western-built regional aircraft that offer a high level of comfort, safety, and fuel and operational efficiency and flexibility, which meet all normal aviation standards, and which offer sufficient, but not excessive, passenger and cargo capacity on the envisaged routes.
- Use of advanced electronic and information technology to reduce staffing and other operational costs; expand the potential market base; readily capture sales opportunities; simplify and speed passenger, baggage, and cargo handling; and enhance customer convenience and satisfaction.
Additional important, though less critical, keys to assuring the airline’s success include the following:
- Identifying, negotiating, and entering into, in the pre-operational stage and early on, beneficial associations, cooperations, and partnerships with larger, more established, highly regarded carriers both within and beyond the target market region to offer interline arrangements, through fares, frequent-flyer mileage sharing, and convenient hubbing and long-distance onward connections to passengers. Successful execution of this element of the business plan is crucial to the overall success and growth of the airline, and must be kept in mind in the organizational plan and structuring of the airline.
- Establishing a high level of operational oversight and quality control that will ensure that the airline always lives up to its marketing commitments and fulfills the promise of a high level of service, customer satisfaction, convenience, and safety, at a reasonable, highly competitive fare.
- Avoiding the temptation to go head-to-head with established carriers on routes that already are well-served, unless solid evidence exists of additional, significant pent-up demand, or widespread customer dissatisfaction with existing services.
- Maintaining flexibility that enables the airline to always respond and adapt to changing market conditions and opportunities, without being erratic, and employing equipment, scheduling, and staffing on a basis that is sufficient to get the job done properly, efficiently, and at a high rate of return, without “overkill” or fielding costly excess capacity or, conversely, unduly cancelling scheduled flight operations.
- Identifying, developing, and quickly and cost-effectively exploiting opportunities for new markets, new market concepts, and expanded sales potential.
- Supplementing regularly scheduled passenger service with both regularly scheduled and also special cargo services when and where sufficient demand exists, and also with seasonal, peak-period, and other intermittent passenger services on certain key regional, seasonal, and variable routes where very high load factors can be predicted despite existing but lower-quality competition, or where competition cannot meet the demand. Larger, longer-range, or specialized aircraft may be employed on a charter or wet-lease basis to provide these supplemental, but potentially highly profitable, passenger and cargo services.
- Looking to combine the core aviation business with ancillary marketing concepts and activities and ground-based operations that support, supplement, and complement the aviation elements of the business, including such activities as package-, group-, and charter-travel program offerings; value-added sales and customer services, both land- and Internet-based; construction and operation of enhanced passenger-, baggage-, and cargo-handling facilities and services; and other logical business pursuits both within and outside the immediate aviation business.
- Avoiding growth for growth’s sake, and instead looking for solid niche-enlargement opportunities that will allow incremental, but always profitable, expansion.
The plan for the envisaged new regional airline is an outgrowth of the market research and regional experience of Balkan Consortium Holdings USA, Inc. (BalkConsort), garnered over a nearly three-year period, beginning in mid-1999.
BalkConsort, which is proposing to found the new airline, is a U.S. corporation registered in the State of Delaware and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with a Southeastern European regional headquarters located in Panorama, just outside Thessaloniki, Greece. BalkConsort, together with its partner companies and associations throughout the countries of Southeast Europe and beyond, identifies key business and profit opportunities and develops projects and strategic partnerships to implement and benefit from them.
Early on following its establishment in the region in mid-1999, BalkConsort identified a growth opportunity in the aviation and travel sector in Southeast Europe. This opportunity is occasioned by growing economic, political, and social stability, and consequent significant business expansion, within and between most of the countries of the region; vastly expanded outside contact and support with and for the region, occasioned by the aftermath of the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts; extensive UN, NATO, and other international-organization operations in the region; and such multilateral initiatives as the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe, the Southeast Europe Cooperative Initiative, and the Southern Balkan Initiative.
Additionally, the company has determined that maximum potential from this growth opportunity can be obtained not only by linking certain key destinations within the Southeast European region, but by linking the region with carefully selected destinations in Western Europe and beyond. It further has identified significant unmet demand, and significant short-, medium-, and long-term growth potential, represented by Turkey and the rapid growth of the Turkish economy and its domestic and international air-travel market, particularly in light of Turkey’s growing economic and political integration with the European Community and Europe as a whole.
Ancillary Travel Services
In response to the growing travel-market potential of the region, represented in particular by the large expatriate community living and working in parts of the region, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Albania, BalkConsort established Hassle-Free Holidays, a package-travel wholesaler and retailer, in mid-2000.
Both Hassle-Free Holidays and its partner organizations are expected to feed customers and traffic to the regional airline and utilize the airline’s services when possible, and will act as additional low-cost outlets for marketing the airline through their planned electronic-commerce websites. Locally established retail travel agencies can serve as a base for the airline’s sales and operations in the key niche market of Kosovo, and Hassle-Free Holidays already has established other close links with retail agencies in Skopje, Thessaloniki, and Athens, and is working on developing similar relationships with agencies in Istanbul, Ankara, Tirana, and elsewhere both within and outside the Southeast European region.
Other related company activities of BalkConsort
BalkConsort currently maintains strategic partnerships or associations with companies in the following functional and geographic areas, all of which can serve to support, augment, or supplement the proposed new airline’s core aviation business:
- Construction, construction management, and construction technology (U.S., Greece, Turkey, Albania).
- Environmental engineering, including water and waste water treatment and solid-waste management (U.S., Italy).
- High-level security, demining, and explosive-ordnance removal (U.K.).
- Aviation services and airport development (Albania).
- Travel services and package travel development and marketing (Greece, FYRO Macedonia, Kosovo, global).
- Free trade zone development (U.S.).
The company owns 50 percent of a private U.S.-Albania joint venture limited-liability company, Rruget e Mira sh.p.k., founded in early 2001 and based in Tirana, Albania. The joint-venture company is set up to undertake primarily public road and street construction and reconstruction projects, as well as general construction and development projects, in Albania.
It also is considering tendering, either on its own or more likely in conjunction with a major international engineering and construction firm, for the build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession the Government of Albania will let for the planned new passenger terminal for Rinas (Tirana) International Airport. In addition, BalkConsort also holds exclusive license rights to two advanced U.S.-developed construction technologies in the 10 countries of Southeast Europe, including Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Slovenia, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia (including Kosovo).
These technologies, combined with other building technologies, products, and methodologies the company and associated companies represent, can offer significant advantages to the new airline should it pursue, either on its own or in conjunction with BalkConsort, development and construction of new passenger-, baggage-, and cargo-handling facilities and other related installations.
Legal relationship and company status of the new airline
BalkConsort intends to spin-off the proposed new airline operating company into a separate legal entity under the continued partial ownership and general oversight of BalkConsort, acting as a holding company. Investments in the new airline may be made either through BalkConsort, as a share of its total capital holdings, through an E.U.-based daughter company described later in this section that will be BalkConsort’s proxy for its interests in the new airline company, or directly into the new airline operating company.
To obtain maximum flexibility in terms of certification and flight and landing rights, it is important that the primary carrier operate under an air operator’s certificate (AOC) granted by an European Union country. Since current E.U. requirements stipulate that European Union nationals (companies and individuals) hold the majority ownership interest in any E.U.-flagged carrier, it is critical that overall ownership in the new airline be structured in such a way that the majority interest is held by E.U. nationals.
According to its overall organizational plan, BalkConsort anticipates reorganizing itself into an off-shore holding company (BC Holdings International Ltd), most likely registered in Anguilla, and transferring the current share ownership of Balkan Consortium Holdings USA, Inc. to the new off-shore holding company. BalkConsort USA will then become a daughter marketing company of BC Holdings International, with a majority of its shares owned by U.S. stockholders (necessary for it to fulfill its role as a U.S. marketing company capable of winning U.S. government contracts reserved for U.S.-owned companies), and a minority share owned by BC Holdings International as a holding company. The corporate organizational plan then calls for the establishment of a daughter marketing company in the E.U., similar to BalkConsort USA, to be held partly by BC Holdings International as minority shareholder and with a majority of ownership held by E.U. nationals. This daughter company (BalkConsort EU) may own all or part of the new airline operating company, provided that majority ownership in the airline meets E.U. requirements for an E.U.-flag carrier.
BalkConsort (in its new identity as BC Holdings International and as “BalkConsort EU”) anticipates maintaining or appointing positions on the new airline operating company’s board of directors proportional to its direct or indirect ownership interest in the airline, with other board positions held or named by other investors in the airline proportional to their ownership interests. Additionally, some board positions will be held by non-equity members, nominated by BalkConsort and the other investors and strategically selected by the board, whose presence and guidance can serve to advance the new airline’s operations, business interests, financial positioning, and expansion. It is anticipated that the new airline operating company will be established as a limited-liability company in one or more E.U. countries, the country or countries to be determined based on tax requirements and relative tax and business operating advantages, and other substantive considerations. For instance, registering and basing the company in Luxembourg may offer significant tax, as well as logistic, advantages to the new airline.
Meanwhile, it may be necessary to register a subsidiary company in another country, such as Switzerland for example, to obtain necessary landing rights or slots in that country. Furthermore, if – as is being considered and is detailed elsewhere in this business plan – the airline acquires British-built aircraft, it may be advantageous from the perspective of obtaining British export financing to base the company outside the U.K. Additional AOCs may be obtained by subsidiary carrier companies established outside the E.U. for substantive reasons such as outlined above. The final company structure, including ownership arrangements, national company registrations and AOCs, and basing, will be determined based on consultation and negotiation between BalkConsort and prospective investors, and with the expert guidance of its project team of tax, business, and aviation advisors and consultants, and others as may be needed.
2.1 Company Ownership
It is anticipated that a portion of the ownership in the new airline operating company will be held by BC Holdings International Ltd, most likely through an E.U.-registered daughter company, along with one or more strategic private investors. Investment in the new airline operating company may be made directly in the airline operating company or through investment in BC Holdings International or its E.U. daughter company as the holding company for the airline, with shares apportioned according to the equity investment involved. However, as previously stated, the majority ownership stake in the new airline must be held by E.U. nationals for the airline to qualify for an E.U. AOC, considered an essential element of the overall organizational plan. BalkConsort is prepared to discuss and negotiate specific ownership arrangements in detail with prospective investors. Equity requirements are discussed in the Start-up Summary that follows.
For planning purposes, any subsidiary airline companies established by the parent airline operating company, as described in the previous section, shall be considered to be wholly owned subsidiaries of the parent airline operating company, although individual sub-ownership arrangements may be made in individual cases of such subsidiary companies, particularly in cases where local ownership interests might be required by prevailing law in the countries in question. Balkan Consortium Holdings USA, Inc., the current entity formulating this proposal, is a privately held Delaware (U.S.A.) corporation. As noted in the previous section, a new off-shore holding company, BC Holdings International, Ltd., will be set up, with stock ownership in BalkConsort USA transferring to the new entity. It is anticipated that subsequently BC Holdings Ltd. will set up an E.U. daughter company which would then hold a share of the new airline, based on its relative stake in the airline.
2.3 Company Locations and Facilities
Financial, traffic, and other studies currently are underway to determine the optimal prime basing location for the proposed new airline. Among the locations under study are the following eight:
- Luxembourg, Luxembourg;
- Berlin, Germany;
- London City Airport, London, United Kingdom;
- Stanstead Airport, London, United Kingdom;
- EuroAirport, Basel/Mulhouse, Switzerland/France;
- Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
- Cologne/Bonn, Germany;
- Munich, Germany.
In selecting a location to base the new airline, the following 11 major considerations are being evaluated, in roughly descending order of relative weight:
- The tax and business regime in place in the selected locale. A low profit tax rate and a regulatory and political climate supportive of business, and particularly foreign investment, are key considerations.
- The availability of relatively low-cost facilities suitable for basing both the business and aircraft-support operations, as well as the aircraft, is another key consideration.
- The availability of sufficient landing and parking slots and gate facilities to permit the desired level of service at the base airport.The ability to interconnect with one or more major carriers for onward interline arrangements both within Europe as well as to trans-Atlantic and global destinations.
- A location that, given the maximum range of the selected aircraft, will enable non-stop flights to the most important destinations within the new airline’s service area in Southeastern Europe and Turkey and, at most, one-stop service to more distant or secondary destinations.
- The existence of relatively high-traffic volume between the base location and one or more key interchange points to provide sufficiently high load factors between the base location and onward destinations and points of origin.
- The existence of a reasonably high level of cargo traffic, including opportunities for interline trans-shipment of both inbound and outbound cargo.
- The support of a larger airline with which the proposed new airline can establish a particularly close working relationship.
- The support of local airport and aviation authorities to facilitate establishment, certification, and ongoing operation of the airline and its aircraft.
- A location outside of the U.K. to facilitate British trade finance on acquisition of the new aircraft, should decisions be made to acquire British-built Avro aircraft as previously noted, as well as to purchase, rather than lease, the aircraft.
A range of other factors, including the availability and cost of local skilled workers, the growth potential of the market selected, year-round climatic and weather conditions as they may affect flight operations, the “cache” of the locale for marketing purposes, the cost and convenience or difficulty involved in command and control of the airline involving key personnel, some of whom may be based at various other locations, and so forth.
It is anticipated that most routine maintenance will be performed at the base location, with some more minor maintenance and repairs relegated to other locations in the route network. In both cases, most of this routine maintenance and repair work will be contracted out to established and experienced service providers, reducing the need for the new airline to maintain its own extensive maintenance and repair teams and facilities. The airline will, however, perform its own normal line maintenance at home base and will utilize locally available services away from home. Aircraft also may be based at key airline hub locations away from the home business base as well. With acquisition of British-built aircraft, major overhauls and heavy maintenance may be performed at British Aerospace’s Woodford facility in the U.K. on a selective basis. In addition, it is anticipated that separate fixed-cost maintenance agreements will be entered into for both the airframes and the engines, or these elements will be included in any dry-leasing arrangements entered into.
Estimates for total labor and spare parts costs have been calculated as a fixed per-hour cost and included in the portion of this business plan dealing with anticipated operating costs. Sufficient apron and hangar space for staging, parking, and storing, as needed on a short-term basis, up to the entire initial five-aircraft fleet will be required at the base location and any other hub locations selected. As the fleet expands over time, additional parking and storage space will be needed either at the main base location or at regional hubs in the airline route network. Additionally, sufficient office space, preferably in one central location at or near the base airport, will be required to house the airline’s main administrative offices and its central reservations system. While the airline may consider establishing its own sales offices in key market locations, in general sales will be handled through a combination of Internet marketing utilizing the airline’s own website as well as other Internet travel websites, designated general sales agents in given locales, and regular travel agencies everywhere.
As demonstrated throughout this business plan, it is clear that a strong growth potential exists for the future, and the airline will gear itself toward sensible, well-based growth and solid financial and business planning. The proposed new airline has the potential to become a strong, well-established, and – as the numbers indicate – extremely profitable carrier, starting from now.
3.1 Service Description
In reviewing the planned services to be offered by the proposed new airline, this plan will divide services into two main categories: passenger services and cargo services. Within each category, the service strategy, as well as general services to be offered, are presented and reviewed.
3.2 Competitive Comparison
In comparing the proposed new airline to its competitors, there are at least two levels of comparison that must be considered; the usually lower-standard airlines, both scheduled and charter, flying out of the Southeastern European region, and the higher-standard, more highly regarded airlines operating out of Western Europe.
Beating the former source of competition is both a reasonable and an essential goal. But comparing favorably, and even standing notably above, the latter also is an important objective since these airlines will represent direct competition to the new airline on many of its projected key routes, despite efforts to avoid such competition to the extent feasible. Fortunately, several of the key distinguishing characteristics planned for the new carrier not only will enable it to fare extremely well in both levels of competitive comparison, but will actually be achievable at a savings in cost and resources. In other words, by being smart, the new airline can be significantly better than its competition while at the same time accruing lower overall costs, a remarkably good combination.
In comparing the proposed new carrier to both its Southeastern European and its Western European competition, it is important to look at those factors that determine how most travelers choose an airline. They include the following (and the order of importance is different for each traveler and each situation, but the most important factors are listed):
- Safety, actual and perceived;
- Cost, and range of fares offered;
- Destinations served;
- Availability of seats;
- Availability of fares;
- Convenience of flight schedules, times of arrivals and departures;
- Frequency of flights;
- Connections, including reliability and convenience of connections;
- Nature of flights: non-stop, direct, number of stops, aircraft changes;
- Availability of different classes of service;
- Onboard comfort, service, meals, and amenities;
- Type of aircraft, including jet or non-jet, size, and speed;
- Age and condition of aircraft;
- Ease and efficiency of reservations and ticketing;
- Reliability and on-time departures and arrivals;
- Ground service;
- Reliability and quality of baggage handling;
- Friendly, competent service in reservations, check-in, and in the air;
- Overall reputation of airline;
- Nationality of carrier;
- Factors of personal preference.
While no airline probably can excel in every one of these areas, the closer an airline comes to “excellent,” or at least “good,” ratings in each of these key areas, the better it will fare in its competitive standing. Both in the overall design of the airline and its basic operational features, as well as in its management, quality control, and day-to-day operations, the proposed airline is expected to stand out positively in almost every regard.
Competition with Southeastern European carriers
While not all Southeastern European carriers fit the stereotype presented here, and several are in the process of privatization and ostensible upgrading, most do operate at a lower level of service than is customary in Western Europe. It is not uncommon for carriers in the region to operate older Soviet-built equipment (perceived to be less comfortable, less safe, and less reliable than its Western competition – perceptions that often are accurate).
For instance, such competing airlines as Avioimpex of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albanian Airlines (Albania’s Kuwaiti-owned private carrier), ADA Air (a smaller private carrier in Albania with which BalkConsort has been partnered for certain purposes), Hemus Air and Bulgarian Airlines, both of Bulgaria, Tarom, Romania’s state carrier, and even Malev, the Hungarian airline, still operate Soviet-era aircraft in their fleets. In some cases, these aircraft are turbo-prop powered, and not pure jet. While often it is relatively inexpensive to lease such aircraft, their operating costs tend to be significantly higher than newer, more fuel-efficient Western-built aircraft, and their safety, reliability, and noise factors are often poor, in some cases limiting their ability to operate in some markets.
Service levels are poor in general, among both scheduled and charter carriers, which represent a significant part of the market, particularly in service to Kosovo and Turkey, the two niche markets identified for the new carrier. By utilizing modern, safe, reliable, and cost-effective Western-built regional jet aircraft, the proposed new airline will offer a far more attractive alternative to the traveler both from within and outside Southeast Europe, and will be able to operate with far lower fuel and maintenance costs than the competition. The comfort, reliability, speed, and safety of the new airline’s aircraft all will enable it to be the airline of preference for virtually all business, government, and organizational travelers from both within and outside the target region when traveling to or within the region, and it also will be preferred by most leisure and personal travelers, including those from with the target region, as well.
Greater reliability and punctuality of the aircraft, augmented by state-of-the-art navigational devices that permit operation under a wider range of weather and visibility conditions, will enable the airline to compete most favorably on those bases also, and will ensure the least likelihood of flight cancellations, postponements, and missed or late connections. On the basis of fares, the new airline will offer highly competitive fares which, in many cases, should be below those offered by its Southeastern European competition. Higher load factors, combined with greater efficiency both in operational costs as well as in reservations, ticketing, and check-in, will enable the new airline to be highly competitive from both a cost and a quality perspective, and will also enable it to retain a higher percentage of its revenues.
In short, the local competition, except in a few cases (such as Aegean/Cronus Airlines, and to a lesser extent Olympic Airways, from Greece; Adria from Slovenia; in some cases Malev, from Hungary; and the Turkish carriers) will not represent very strong competition to the new airline, and particularly in attracting the primary market groups at which the new carrier will be aimed. Finally, the new carrier will be seeking out, as part of its business and marketing strategies, routes and city pairs that offer unserved or under-served demand. That strategy also will help reduce the threat from competition, and will enable the carrier to further establish itself as the carrier of choice in Southeast Europe.
Competition with Western European carriers
The competitive picture is somewhat different when Western European carriers represent the competition. Many of the new airline’s competitive advantages relative to Southeastern European carriers are erased or at least minimized.
In most cases, the new airline will be competing with other carriers operating aircraft of a similar nature. Safety, comfort, convenience, and reliability, as well as in many cases cost, all are on a similar footing. To stand out from the crowd, the airline must do things either differently or better, or both, than its competitors, and it is here that both the design and the management of the new airline must be at their sharpest. The competition in this region will include such well-established carriers as Swiss International, Austrian, Tyrolean, Lufthansa, KLM, British Airways, Air France, Alitalia, Sabena, and others of that nature. More recent, lower-cost, and “hipper” start-ups such as EasyJet, Go Fly, Bluebird, Virgin Express, and others like them will represent even more challenging competition in some cases.
But unlike any of its competitors, which may employ one or two or several elements of the proposed new airline’s marketing strategies, informational and electronic technologies, and management techniques, none of them – none – employ the full range of those elements that the proposed new airline will employ. Consequently, the proposed new airline will be the real equivalent of a whole new generation of airline (regional or beyond), and will represent the kind of revolution in the aviation world that Pan Am, Icelandic, Laker Air, PEOPLExpress, Virgin Air Atlantic, EasyJet, and Air Blue represented in their day (and in some cases, their “day” is still today).
In that regard, the new airline might well be known as “TechnoAir” given its extensive deployment of state-of-the-art marketing, reservations, ticketing, check-in, baggage- and cargo-tracking, and operational and safety technologies. The advantages of these technologies include a net cost saving to the airline, greater convenience and ease for the passenger, and an image and reputation that will cause the new airline to stand out from the pack. Combined with a staff and management that will be carefully recruited, selected, trained, and motivated to be the best of the best, and to be the most customer-oriented in the business, the new airline also will soon become known by its motto: “I’ve got a job to do, and I do it every day – for you!” In other key areas – routes, schedules, and fares – the new airline also will be carefully designed to either compete highly effectively or, alternatively, to go where the competition is limited or non-existent.
Requirements for interline arrangements
In order for the new airline to be able to obtain the interline arrangements such as code-shares, interline fare agreements, frequent-flyer mileage sharing, and so forth, that will be so important to its competitive posture and overall success, it must:
- Fly Western-built aircraft, preferably pure jet.
- Meet the standards to have a two-letter airline code.
- Meet the highest standards for safety, reliability, and service.
- Be accessible through normal reservations and ticketing systems.
Meeting these requirements, and negotiating the desired agreements, will be priorities from the outset in setting up the new airline. Additionally, partnering and interline arrangements will be carefully identified and sought that will offer the new airline strategic partnerships that will help give it the “cover” of larger, more established carriers, and also the status and service and growth potentials it will need to grow beyond its initial stage and to become a true presence in the aviation world.
The primary issue regarding sourcing is the question of the type and source of aircraft to be employed in the new airline’s fleet.
Several potential fleet aircraft and manufacturing sources are being considered and evaluated, including the following:
- Airbus Industrie ATR72, A-300, A-310, A-320
- Boeing 717, 737-500, 737-700
- Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet CRJ
- British Aerospace BAe 146-300, BAe 146-200QC*, Avro RJ85, RJ100, RJX85, RJX100
- Embraer ERJ-145
- Fokker 100
- Saab 2000
- Also, in an all-freighter configuration, the BAe 146-200QT** and BAe 146-300QT**
* QC = “Quiet Convertible” version allowing quick-conversion from passenger to full-freighter configuration; only five of these – the complete production run – currently are in service worldwide.
** QT = “Quiet Trader” all freight version, of which in service there are 13 in the 200 version and 10 in the 300 version.
With the exception of the turboprops ATR72 and the Saab 2000, all aircraft under consideration are pure jets. Given the strong “jet preference” among the flying public (for instance, Continental Express in the U.S. estimated that its load factors increased 33 – 50 percent when it switched from turboprops to jet aircraft, and similar results have been documented elsewhere, including in Europe), the overall greater speed and reliability, reasonably close operating costs (especially given the additional flights that can be operated daily), and the longer range offered by jets, the preferred aircraft type is a pure jet. It remains only to decide which is the “right” pure jet for the fleet.
A number of key factors have mitigated toward the BAe Avro RJ family of regional jets rising toward the top of the list as the probable aircraft of choice for the new airline. Among those factors are the following:
- Relatively low per-seat acquisition cost.
- Relatively low per-passenger-mile costs, given their added capacity over smaller regional jets, and high reliability factors in the newer versions (for instance, Aegean/Cronus Airlines of Greece, which operates six RJ100s on a very active daily schedule, has averaged above 99.6 percent departure reliability with its RJ fleet).
- Complete pilot and maintenance intercompatibility between the various members of the family (RJ70, RJ85, RJ100, and now the new RJX family as well), giving added flexibility in flight and maintenance operations and reducing training and simulator costs.
- Four-engine configuration which gives it an added safety factor (while also increasing operating costs, however).
- Spacious, comfortable cabin interiors that offer the only seat, aisle, and overhead bin dimensions available in a regional jet that are equivalent to those on standard-size jets.
- The option of flexible cabin and seating configurations that allow for varying the number of seats provided for various classes depending on demand, the number of seats abreast, types of seat coverings, the number of seats provided on a given flight, and so forth.
- Availability of the aircraft from various sources on both lease and purchase bases.
- The possible option of obtaining advantageous British export financing.\
- Ability to service the aircraft in many locations on the projected service network and the availability of major overhaul capabilities at the manufacturer’s own facilities in the U.K.
- Widespread passenger and industry acceptance of the Avro regional jets both within and outside Europe.
Seating capacity is an important consideration both from the point-of-view of capacity, load factors, and per-passenger-mile costs, but also from the point-of-view of “scope clauses” in pilot union contracts. In Europe, any airliner with 100 or more seats falls under the far more highly compensated “mainline” airliner contracts in place in the industry. Planes with 99 and fewer seats are considered “regional airliners” for contract and union purposes, carrying more economical compensation packages. One approach worth considering is to commence operations with one generation of aircraft with an option to return those aircraft to the lessor or manufacturer without penalty in an “upward trade” to acquire the newer generation aircraft when they become available.
Such options are commonly supported by manufacturers in their effort to market newer generation aircraft, and would enable the new airline to avoid any delays that might ensue from backups in the RJX build pipeline. Given the new airline’s stress on technology and the comfort of the passenger, combined with the very real considerations of lower operating and maintenance costs and greater flexibility, consideration of the latest generation of aircraft should be evaluated carefully, along with limiting seating to five abreast, including in Value Class as described elsewhere in this plan. However, factors such as initial acquisition cost, refurbishing costs, operating and maintenance expenses, reliability, operating parameters, customer preference, and financing packages available for purchase or lease all must be considered.
For purposes of the costing factors utilized in this business plan, acquisition and operating costs for dry-leasing new Avro RJ100 aircraft with a high-level of technical features and passenger amenities have been employed, with a cost comparison also made for purchasing the same aircraft. Adjustments would need to be made for other aircraft types or ages and acquisition methods.
Another issue still being evaluated and which will be decided is the question of how to acquire the aircraft. For a variety of reasons, including the ease with which the leases can be cancelled by the lessor and the lack of “ownership” of the aircraft, wet leasing has been ruled out except for short-term acquisition of aircraft that would be employed in meeting peak demand-type services as outlined elsewhere in this business plan.
The two remaining options both need to be examined from cost, flexibility, and finance points of view: Dry leasing the aircraft (generally on a five-year lease), or outright purchase. Both provide long-term control over the aircraft, and while both options tend to restrict changes in the fleet that might be preferred after the initial years of operation, market conditions and high demand for aircraft indicate that it would be relatively easy to be released from the leases, or to sell or lease the aircraft to new owners or operators, or to return them to their sources.
A number of leasing sources are available for the BAe Avro aircraft being considered, and some used aircraft also are available from time-to-time on the market from various sources. In addition, new aircraft can be acquired directly from the manufacturer on a variety of different plans and options, as well as used aircraft on occasion. Cost factors employed assume dry leasing of new Avro RJ100 aircraft in 99-seat configurations, with a comparison for purchasing. It is anticipated that finance guarantees up to 85 percent of the acquisition cost of the aircraft could be obtained from the Export Credit Guarantee Department of the United Kingdom (ECGD) for purchasing British-built aircraft exported from the UK.
Flight may be based on aerodynamics, but the proposed airline will be based on technology, and lots of it. Efficiency and convenience through use of the most up-to-date informational and electronic technologies, in addition to modern aviation and navigational technologies, are guiding principals of the proposed new airline. Technology will also be a cornerstone of the new airline’s marketing strategy.
Among the technological features the new airline will offer are:
- Internet marketing and online reservations (e-reservations) and sales (e-sales) that will provide quick and easy access to airline schedules, flight availability, reservations, and ticketing to a wide range of customers worldwide. This eliminates payment of agency commissions and keeps costs low – savings that can be passed on to the customer.
- Electronic ticketing (e-ticketing) which will enable passengers to obtain their tickets online and avoid the need to obtain paper tickets from airline offices, travel agencies, or at the airport. It also frees the airline from having to stock, track, and issue tickets and maintain paper trails of them. Again, more savings for both the airline and the customer.
- Electronic check-in (e-check-in) that will virtually eliminate waiting in line to check-in for e-ticketed passengers, enabling them to confirm their identities, obtain their boarding passes, and check-in their baggage (and even purchase tickets upon check-in) utilizing a user-friendly kiosk that eliminates those last-minute frustrating waits to get to the counter. And it also greatly reduces the airline’s needs to staff check-in desks, control long lines, employ local contract ground staff, and expend money and resources on an antiquated system that only adds to the traveler’s inconvenience and frustration. Another win-win situation for both airline and passenger.
- Electronic baggage tracking (e-baggage tracking) which will enable the airline to track any piece of baggage from check-in to final pick-up and claim. If courier services can track parcels as they move around the world, and enable customers to track their parcels using tracking numbers and online tracking systems, then why can’t the same system be used to assure that no passenger will ever again have to wonder where his or her baggage might be? There may still be contingencies (such as late check-in, lack of space, security restrictions, late connections, and so forth) that cause baggage not to be placed on a given aircraft, but at least both the airline and the customer can be assured that they both know exactly where the given item of baggage is at any moment, and when it might be expected to arrive at the destination. This could well be an exclusive feature of the proposed new airline since no other airline appears to be utilizing it at present.
- Electronic cargo tracking (e-cargo tracking) is the same basic idea as e-baggage tracking, and will use the same basic system, only for tracking cargo and parcels.
- Electronic quality control (e-QC) is another innovation that will enable technology to create a far better flying experience for the customer, give airline management and staff greater control over airline operations and performance, and save time, effort, money, and staff resources in the process. What is envisaged is a central electronic matrix that controls and monitors scheduling of aircraft, equipment, personnel, supplies, and support materiel, and responds to problems, excesses, and deficiencies.
It also will track all elements of a given passenger’s or customer’s transactions and interactions with the airline, from initial flight inquiry through reservations, ticketing, check-in, flight, connections, and final baggage pick-up, claim, and check-out, as well as any standing preferences, follow-up comments, inquiries, or problems. It also will monitor things like weather conditions, flight delays or projected delays, gate jam-ups, and other contingencies, and will automatically notify both appropriate airline personnel as well as passengers and customers of any advisories, warnings, or changes.
- Electronic financial control (e-finance) will enable complete electronic financial control and monitoring of the airline’s finances, clear advantages.
- Additional technological features will be incorporated on-board the aircraft to provide flight crews with the latest navigational and communication technologies to assure the highest level of passenger safety and also airline reliability and punctuality. Included in this technology, in the case of the Avro aircraft, is all-digital ARINC 700 avionics with advanced Cat IIIb low weather-minimal landing capability to permit landings under the poorest permissible approach and visibility conditions.
Market Analysis Summary
Economic growth and the requirements of redevelopment, not to mention the impending entry of several countries in the region to the European Union, are creating increased demand for air services between Western Europe and the countries of Southeast Europe and Turkey.
The market combines a variety of elements all of which demand a higher quality of air service than often currently available:
- Business travelers requiring convenience, reliability, speed, and schedules built around business needs.
- Government and international organization travelers, requiring the same elements.
- Personal and leisure travelers from the Southeast Europe/Turkey region who have the money to travel by air and who increasingly demand a higher level of service and convenience, but at an economical cost.
- The “Diaspora,” Personal and leisure travelers originally from the Southeast Europe/Turkey region, but now living and working in sizable numbers in the countries of Western Europe, with the same demands.
- Western European personal and leisure travelers, primarily traveling on the airline’s routes between Western European points.
- Seasonal (primarily summer, with some limited niche markets in the winter period) holiday travelers, primarily destined for Greece, Turkey, and the islands of the Mediterranean. Cost, reliability, convenience, and destination are their concerns.
The proposed new airline will appeal to all these distinct groups by offering better quality service (and in some cases, offering service where none now exists), at a higher level of safety, comfort, and convenience, and at reasonable fares, than currently available. The new airline also will focus on the niche markets identified in the Service Description section of this plan, enabling it to better serve and to become identified as the carrier of choice for those markets.
4.1 Market Segmentation
A complete market analysis and segmentation will require a specific passenger and destination survey, the cost of which is included in the Start-up Costs for the airline.
Preliminary analysis (based on a variety of methods, including observation, interviews with travel- and airline-industry professionals, economic segmentation, future projections based on marketing plans, and experience with the region and market) for planning purposes, however, indicates the following approximate market segmentation overall (considerable variations, of course, would be anticipated depending on route, season, and other factors):
- Business – 15%
- Government and International Organizations – 10%
- Regional Resident Personal and Leisure Travelers – 20%
- Diaspora Personal and Leisure Travelers – 10%
- Western European Personal and Leisure Travelers – 5%
- Seasonal Holiday Travelers – 10%*
* The seasonal/holiday travel segment of the market to some degree distorts the overall market percentages, but might initially be anticipated for two reasons: first, it compensates for the drop in business and government travel that can be expected during the peak summer holiday travel season; second, a significant portion of this traffic is likely to be carried on flights employing specially chartered or wet-leased supplemental aircraft.
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