Why Did Deltas’ Low-Cost Carrier ‘Song’ Fail?

Delta Air Lines once operated a short-lived low-cost carrier. Called “Song,” the airline flew all-economy Boeing 757s on…

Why Did Deltas’ Low-Cost Carrier ‘Song’ Fail?

Delta Air Lines once operated a short-lived low-cost carrier. Called “Song,” the airline flew all-economy Boeing 757s on leisure destinations– primarily in Florida. However, the airline made its first flight on April 15th, 2003, and shut down in 2006 as Delta restructured through bankruptcy.

Song was once a low-cost carrier brand within Delta. Photo: Getty Images

What was Song?

In the early 2000s, Delta was under threat. JetBlue had just started operations and was winning over a sizable number of passengers flying between New York and the vacation hubs in Florida. A University of Pennsylvania analysis of the low-fare airline noted that the Song 757s would be quite luxurious for its time with leather seats, seatback screens, MP3 music, and sell branded food items onboard its aircraft while also offering low fares– similar to JetBlue.

Song would focus on the leisure travelers between New York and Florida. Before, later, expanding to more Northeastern US and West Coast destinations.

Song 757
A Song Boeing 757 at New York’s La-Guardia Airport. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

Delta notes that at its height in 2005, Song had over 48 Boeing 757-200s flying in its fleet to 16 destinations across the United States. In total, those aircraft flew over 200 flights per day.

Delta shut Song down in 2006

In late-2005, Delta announced that it was discontinuing Song just weeks after filing for bankruptcy, according to the New York Times. This came as the airline just could not become as successful as its employees first dreamed.

For one, the airline-within-an-airline concept is difficult to master. Between pilot and flight attendant agreements, keeping costs down is hard. This is one place where JetBlue had a significant competitive advantage. In addition, Song also ended up flying some lucrative routes– including transcontinental service.

Song LAX
Song was flying to critical cities like Los Angeles. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

While airlines coming out of bankruptcy usually emerge smaller, Delta couldn’t trim the Song network. Song flew to many lucrative cities so, even after being wound down, Delta did not pull down any destinations.

What happened to Song’s planes?

In 2006, Delta announced that the Song 757s would undergo retrofits. The 48 757-200s would reenter Delta’s mainline system with a “new two-class domestic long-haul product.” These aircraft flew out of important airports, including JFK, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Tampa, and more. Meanwhile, the 757s also started to make their way to Atlanta, Cancun, Miami, Phoenix, and more.

Delta 757
Delta re-configured Song 757s with a premium product. Photo: Getty Images

The return of First Class on lucrative transcontinental routes meant that Delta could target its staple passengers: loyal business travelers that want a premium product.

Why Song was not a complete failure

Song, itself, was not a complete failure. Delta used the airline brand as a way to test out new ideas. This included zone boarding, new aircraft turnaround times, all-leather seats, designer uniforms, improved snack choices, simplified fare structure, and an upgraded online presence.

The biggest thing, however, that Delta learned was how to build a strong brand. In the years after Song, Delta has continued to make advances in the flying experience. It introduced new long-haul economy-class dining, has continued to maintain on-demand seatback screens on its planes, and retained leisure travel services. In fact, while American has pulled its Orlando to New York-JFK services– one of Song’s key routes– Delta continues to serve the market and expand to more destinations in Florida.

Comfort +
Delta continues to maintain on-demand seatback entertainment onboard its Boeing 757-200s. Photo: Jay Singh – Simple Flying

And, Song ultimately pushed Delta towards a premium transcontinental product. In recent years, the airline has put flatbed seats on key 757 routes and upgraded Los Angeles to New York services to premium Boeing 767 services.

Did you ever fly Song? Do you have memories from Song? Let us know in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Wizz Air Quietly Moves Its Operations To Abu Dhabi In Prep For Hub Launch

With very little going on in terms of passenger flights, Hungarian low-cost legend Wizz Air has taken the…

Wizz Air Quietly Moves Its Operations To Abu Dhabi In Prep For Hub Launch

With very little going on in terms of passenger flights, Hungarian low-cost legend Wizz Air has taken the opportunity to switch its UAE operations from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Previously operating to DWC, the airline will restart passenger flights into Abu Dhabi within the next two weeks. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is still on track to start before the end of the year.

Wizz Air has moved out of Dubai and into Abu Dhabi. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Wizz arrives in Abu Dhabi

European low-cost airline Wizz Air has already begun sliding into Abu Dhabi ahead of its launch of a new airline based there. Previously flying into Dubai, the airline will now operate only to Abu Dhabi, with services slated to restart in the next 10 – 14 days.

In an interview with leading analyst and consultant John Strickland for a World Aviation Festival webinar, CEO of Wizz Jozsef Varadi shared his excitement for the move. He said,

“I think we have been gaining some experience when it comes to operating to the UAE, and there are two significant events that will happen in a fairly short period of time. The first is that we are now moving operations from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

“We think that Abu Dhabi airport will open up earlier than Dubai (DWC). And we think that, given our strategic initiative in Abu Dhabi, we should be showing up in Abu Dhabi. This is happening in the next few days.

“In the next 10 to 14 days we will resume flights to the UAE, and the airport we’re going to fly to is Abu Dhabi”

While this isn’t a full-on launch of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, it’s the first step in the process and a clear indication that things are right on track for the launch later this year. The airline previously said it would launch from Abu Dhabi with five routes to start with.

What’s next for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi?

It seems that there is no stopping this ambitious airline from launching its assault on the low-cost market in the Middle East. While the move from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is the first catalyst for Wizz Air’s current level of excitement, the second part is equally inspirational. Varadi said,

“Secondly, also fairly shortly, we will shortly announce the commercial start of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. We are hugely excited about that initiative.

“We can capture 5 billion of the world’s population within a radius of six and a half hours from Abu Dhabi. We think it represents plenty of opportunities for the airline to develop its network. We’re going to start that initiative commercially within a few weeks, and operationally, we will be up in the air towards the end of the year as planned.”

Wizz Air, 16 Years, Still Expanding
Wizz Air is ready to take on the Middle East. Photo: Wizz Air

Varadi pointed to his ‘designed in’ economies and investment in new planes as measures of Wizz Air’s distinctively competitive style. He believes that while legacy airlines and hub carriers may struggle, Wizz’s business model will allow it to thrive in a post-COVID environment.

Not deterred by the coronavirus crisis

While many airlines are cutting their fleets and anticipating a slow recovery, Wizz has been one airline that has gone the opposite way. The airline has not deferred any aircraft deliveries, and is still looking eagerly towards an up gauging of its fleet to mostly A321neos over the coming years. Speaking about the impact of the current crisis on his plans for Abu Dhabi, Varadi was bullish saying that,

“As a matter of fact, it’s even increased our appetite, given the situation, as we’ve seen competition is getting weaker here or there. [We believe] we should be starting Wizz Air Abu Dhabi at a larger scale and this is what we’re going to announce.

“This is an initiative that will take us to probably the scale of Wizz Air Hungry in the same period. So if you look at the numbers, Wizz Air Hungary made it to about 100 aircraft in 15 years and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will also make it to 100 aircraft in 15 years as well, if not more.”

Wizz Air, Airbus A321neo, Trip Review
Varadi has ambitious plans for the new Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

While there’s no news on how many aircraft will be stationed in Abu Dhabi for its launch, Varadi’s ambitious plans for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi could see a rapid deployment of capacity into the region. He believes that his model of low-cost, safe, green transportation is perfectly replicable in the Middle East and beyond. He concluded by saying,

“Through Wizz Air Abu Dhabi we would hope that we could penetrate not only the UAE but also the whole of the GCC area.”

The GCC area includes the UAE, but also extends to five further nations including Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain. Wizz already flies to Israel, so it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected to see it eyeing related states including Jordan, Egypt, Iran and Iraq in the future too.

With Wizz due to provide its investors update in a week’s time, we’ll likely know more about the plans for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi then. Are you excited to see the launch of this new low-cost airline? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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