Is Now the Perfect Time to Start an Airline?
I know what you’re thinking. HELL NO!
But maybe the answer is HELL YES! One of Warren Buffett’s famous quotes is “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.”
So right now while we are in the middle of a global pandemic and everyone is either afraid to travel or restricted from traveling there may be an opportunity up there.
Now before we contemplate the idea let’s take a brief look at the history of airlines in general. The airline industry has been notoriously a “bad” business because they don’t make any money. Now they generate lots of cash but most airlines make little to no profits. It wasn’t until lots of bankruptcies, mergers, and a decline in oil prices that finally turned things around and they began to generate record profits. As of 2019 airlines had posted 10 straight years of profits and were on the path to even greater performance this year, until.
Now boarding, passenger COVID-19 followed by a mass exodus of passengers EVERYONE else! Since the onset of the coronavirus, airlines have seen a 95% reduction in passenger demand this year and even the most successful airlines, last month, American, United, Southwest and Delta reported their first losses in years.
With all this news I began to think WWWD what would Warren do?🤔 Well I didn’t have to think long because at the recent Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting he told us exactly what he did. He sold EVERYTHING! He sold all of his stocks in airlines, which after many years of criticism he’d become very bullish investing billions in the industry. Now he’s out! That’s right he’s running away, being fearful. At their meeting he said, “I made an understandable mistake” when valuing the airline stocks as a near-global halt in travel due to the coronavirus sent their prices sharply lower.
So are we still supposed to take his advice about being greedy when others are fearful, when the man that coined the phrase is being fearful? It was his next statement that got my wheels turning though.
“I don’t know that three, four years from now people will fly as many passenger miles as they did last year,” he said. “You’ve got too many planes.”
Too many planes…🤔
That was the line. So what are all of those planes going to do? Just sit there? But for how long? I believe people will fly again and it may take a year, but travel as an industry and transportation aren’t going to just cease to exist. When the traveler returns though I think they are going to be looking for a different experience. So maybe now is the time to create an airline and you can probably get some of those “too many planes” on the cheap.
Do you smell it? Smell what you ask? Opportunity.
Enter SANITAIR- a fresh way to fly. Taking flight 2021- My hypothetical airline😉
So where do we begin? Well I guess we need planes first. SANITAIR is going to fly the best of course. The Boeing 737 is the most popular, most sold, and favorite of all major airlines. That means it also is the most grounded right now. We’ll take one please. Gotta start somewhere.
Now that we have our plane let’s talk about reconfiguring the seating arrangement. I like many business people fly a lot, at least two or three times a month. I’m also 6’4” and 215lbs. I definitely have yet to find a seat for people my size on a commercial flight. I love flying Southwest but the best I can do is early A-list boarding and hopefully get the exit row seat against the the window that has no seat in front of it. Then I keep my fingers crossed and hope the middle seat next to me stays empty. I usually end up there about 50% of the time. The other 50% I’m crammed in wherever, it really doesn’t matter because they’re all equally uncomfortable.
Typically there may be 25+ rows, with most having 3 seats per side of the aisle, so we’re talking 120–160 seats. Racked and packed that’s been the model. That’d be one of the first things I’d adjust. Using the full 33.6 meters of length, there’s gotta be a better way to make everyone more comfortable, not just the lucky 10–12 people in the front of the plane. SANITAIR you’ll be happy to know consist of 25 rows as well, but only 4 seats per row, 2 on each side. So that gives us plenty of room in front, behind, and between you and your row mate ala “social distancing”. While we’re at it let’s partner with one of those mattress companies like Purple or Casper and design some seats that are actually comfortable to sit in for hours at a time. I believe Purple’s designers were actually designing cushions for wheelchairs to begin with anyway and they’re like NASA scientist so I’m sure they’re up for the task.
Next. On flight entertainment? I think everyone has that handled with smart phones, tablets, and their laptops. What I wanna make sure is we have great free Wi-Fi and outlets for every seat to include USB connectors as well as standard AC plugs. On the seat back in front of you how about an adjustable tablet/phone holder so you don’t have to make one out of a airplane pillow or try to prop it up somehow for the duration of the flight. To finish off your mini cockpit, having a dimmable reading light for courtesy of your neighbor. As well as storage under the oversized center console in between you and your neighbor that’s also equipped with a couple of storage compartments that have room for personal items, are stocked with complimentary bottles of water, and an optional cup holder on top.
Let’s move on. Baggage that’s easy thanks to Southwest. Bags, two checked, one carry-on and one personal item and yes bags fly free.
Next: Booking, made easy. Everything is done online through our mobile app. Everyone is first class, it’s open seating and every seat is great thanks to the new design. Transparency on pricing has to be key. No hidden charges, change fees, or transfer fees. Now I’m not sure how much tickets would be but one of the things I think could be cool is for business people that travel the same route every week or at least every month, maybe we’ll have a membership program where you can pay a subscription monthly fee and have that ticket guaranteed for the year. For the rest of the tickets and pricing, potentially we could use a state, regional and national 3-tier pricing? In-state one-way $50, round-trip $100. Regional $150 one-way round-trip $300. National one-way $250 round-trip $500. Just some ideas, but I know one thing, it would be nice to know you could fly coast to coast in the United States for $500 or less always. SANITAIR definitely will be competitive on price but we won’t compete on price like a lot of airlines do. Or they have an extremely “cheap ticket” and then hit you with extra charges for everything you want to do, including charging extra for wearing multiple layers of clothes on the plane. That was a joke, kinda. Just want to keep your “Spirit” up😉It’s not a race to the bottom.
“Our goal is to provide a better experience, at a reasonable price and exceed expectations every single flight.” Did I just recite our mission statement.😂
Now for the record I know nothing about the business beyond what I’ve shared, these are just ideas, but I’m game to give it a shot if anybody out there and wants to go for it. I’ve taken some of what I consider “best practices” of different airlines I admire like Southwest for transparency and Virgin for style and experience and then added some of my own things on top. Maybe it won’t be me, but someone(cough Elon Musk) out there should definitely upgrade the airline experience. Put the customer at the center and everything else will sync up. Including profits. Who knows maybe we can even get Warren Buffett to want to reinvest in SANITAIR and help everyone experience a fresh way to fly!
Ready to fly?🛩