A new startup airline, GLO Airlines has announced it’s first set of routes from New Orleans (MSY) to Little Rock (LIT), Memphis (MEM), and Shreveport (SHV). All the routes will be served by a 30 passenger Saab 340B which will provide amply legroom with up to 36 inches of seat pitch. To start all three routes will see 2x daily service from Monday to Friday and then 1x daily service on Saturday and Sunday. They are targeting business travelers on their routes as none of these routes are currently served nonstop by any carrier. The idea is that business travelers would rather take a convenient nonstop flight to increase there productivity rather than drive or fly a connecting flight. This is the same premise that OneJet is operating on but with their flights originating in Indianapolis and on much smaller planes.
While I believe there is a market for these business traveler flights, GLO Airlines has chosen some interesting cities. To begin all the announced routes add 12 weekly roundtrips which equates to 360 seats one way. Breaking it down to the daily level each market will have an average of 51.4 SDEW (seats daily each way). None of the cities pairs going to be served have anywhere near 51.4 PDEW (passengers daily each way). The low numbers are in part of the inconvenience of using connecting flights between the pairs. While a nonstop flight will no doubt increase demand it will take a significant uptake in order for GLO Airlines to have a decent load factor. All the pairs chosen by GLO actually see the most competition from driving, bus, or train and this is where they must steal passengers from. Now on to the specific market pairs…
New Orleans to Shreveport
Driving Time: 4 Hours 31 Minutes
CSA Population: 439,000 people
Historical PDEW: NA
Thoughts: Smallest market by far and does not register in the DOT data as the PDEW is smaller than 5. The biggest competitor is simply driving and it is not a terrible drive clocking in under 5 hours. I highly doubt GLO will see success on this route especially with the amount of frequency. Hopefully they have contracts in place with business that travel frequently between these two cities.
New Orleans to Little Rock
Driving Time: 6 Hours 14 Minutes
CSA Population: 902,443
Historical PDEW: 39 2011 Q1
Thoughts: From a historic standpoint this almost reaches the magically 51.4 PDEW. Also helping is the fact that it is over a 6 hour drive. New Orleans to Little Rock has a decent change on making it based on the long drive and utilizing the current demand as a springboard.
New Orleans to Memphis
Driving Time: 5 Hours 9 Minutes
CSA Population: 1,341,746
Historical PDEW: 28 2011 Q2
Thoughts: This is the most interesting market and also the most telling… Delta has served this nonstop up until January 2015 when they canceled the route. Despite providing a nonstop option the PDEW only reaches a max of 28 since 2011. I don’t know how GLO can be successful if Delta couldn’t even reach the magically 51.4 PDEW. Maybe with significantly lower fares or business contracts.
First, I am all for new airlines testing new routes out but I am not sure how long GLO Airlines will survive. Ultimately it will come down how GLO distributes and markets its flights. They do have their GLO Black Card which provides travelers locked in rates with added benefits of no change fees and priority seating. They at least have an angle to capture business travelers but a couple questions remain. Do they have agreements in place with companies to utilize these specific routes?? Do they plan to allow bookings through 3rd party sites?? If yes for these questions then I think they have a shot but if not expect the glow to diminish in New Orleans pretty quickly.
I wish GLO Airlines the best and hope they succeed!