Friday, June 5, 2009

Skyways vs airBaltic on VNO-CPH

Skyways launched a Fokker 50 VNO-CPH-VNO service on weekdays starting 2 June but already in 4 June announced service cancellation between 29 June and 9 August. Flights in August will be operated twice weekly (Mondays and Fridays) and starting from 24 August the service is planned to became five times weekly again. Vilnius – Copenhagen route is already served twice daily by airBaltic with 120-seated B737-500. airBaltic is still unbeaten frequency (74%) and seating capacity (87%) leader. Why Skyways have faced problems with this route after just two days of operation?

Price Leader in June – Skyways, in September - airBaltic

Skyways offer the best price almost all days in June. The highest BT’s fare (€564) was found 7 June when just two business-class tickets were left. As Skyways is a newcomer (although information about it was circulating in media for a longer time) the bookings of June are no fully balanced. Skyways ticked prices include 20kg checked-in baggage but airBaltic luggage fare of €10 is not included in compared prices if the cheapest available ticked is in economy class.

September is the next month when Skyways plan full operation on this route. As the graph shows BT typically offers lower price than Skyways constant €132 which is almost double of June’s lowest €72. airBaltic’s one-way price varies between €46 on few dates to €211 in 13 September.

Fare Levels: Skyways Shocks
In order to inspect availability of lowest fares different numbers of passengers was entered in booth booking systems. This makes possible to find prices of up to 9 next tickets. A date (8 September) was selected to ensure that a very limited number of bookings are done. Skyways booking system showed a bad surprise – just seven tickets still available for €132 – 8th ticket cost €453 which is about the same level of airBaltic’s business-class tickets. The same fare was found on many other dates (but not all) in June, August, September and October. In the same time airBaltic offer 5 tickets for €85 (evening flight) and the rest for €114.
If Skyways €453 sky-high tickets (about 40 out of 50) are not just an error in the booking system or in my analysis I see no success in their VNO-CPH service. The Skyways prices in June show that ticket fares are grouped in more than just two fare levels so hope exist that autumn prices will be reloaded and maybe corrected to achieve smaller average fare. Still airBaltic have several more advantages in this route: a codeshare with SAS an other companies from Copenhagen; better service frequencies and more convenient flight times; possibility to book VNO-RIX-CPH or just RIX-CPH if needed. I advise Skyways to consider switching VNO-CPH capacity to some other Baltic or Scandinavian city - PLQ, KUR, LPX, VNT, TAY, EPU, VBY or other – and concentrating on local tourism.

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