An airline provides air transport services for passengers or freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for reasons of mutual benefit.
Airlines vary from those with a single airplane carrying mail or cargo, through full-service international airlines operating many hundreds of airplanes. Airline services can be categorized as being intercontinental, intracontinental, regional or domestic and may be operated as scheduled services or charters.
- The pattern of ownership has gone from government owned or supported to independent, for-profit public companies. This occurs as regulators permit greater freedom and non-government ownership, in steps that are usually decades apart. This pattern is not seen for all airlines in all regions.
- The demand for air travel services depends on: business needs for cargo shipments, business passenger demand, leisure passenger demand, all influenced by economic activity.
- The overall trend of demand has been consistently increasing. In the 1950s and 1960s, annual growth rates of 15% or more were common. Annual growth of 5-6% persisted through the 1980s and 1990s. Growth rates are not consistent in all regions, but countries with a de-regulated airline industry have more competition and greater pricing freedom. This results in lower fares and sometimes dramatic spurts in traffic growth. The U.S., Australia, Japan, Brazil, Mexico,India and other markets exhibit this trend.
- The industry is cyclical. Four or five years of poor performance precede five or six years of improved performance. But profitability in the good years is generally low, in the range of 2-3% net profit after interest and tax. In times of profit, airlines lease new generations of airplanes and upgrade services in response to higher demand. Since 1980, the industry has not earned back the cost of capital during the best of times. Conversely, in bad times losses can be dramatically worse.
- Warren Buffett once said that despite all the money that has been invested in all airlines, the net profit is less than zero. He believes it is one of the hardest businesses to manage.
- As in many mature industries, consolidation is a trend. Airline groupings may consist of limited bilateral partnerships, long-term, multi-faceted alliances between carriers, equity arrangements, mergers, or takeovers. Since governments often restrict ownership and merger between companies in different countries, most consolidation takes place within a country. In the U.S., over 200 airlines have merged, been taken over, or gone out of business since deregulation in 1978. Many international airline managers are lobbying their governments to permit greater consolidation to achieve higher economy and efficiency.
World's First Airline
DELAG, Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-Aktiengesellschaft (German: acronym for "German Airship Transport Corporation") was the world's first airline. It was founded on November 16, 1909 with government assistance, and operated airships manufactured by Zeppelin Corporation. Its headquarters were in Frankfurt. The four oldest non-dirigible airlines are Netherland's KLM, Colombia's Avianca, Australia's Qantas, and Mexico's Mexicana.
Early development of airlines in the U.S.
Tony Jannus conducted the United State's first scheduled commercial airline flight on 1 January 1914 for the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line. The 23 minute flight traveled between St. Petersburg, Florida and Tampa, Florida, passing some 50 feet above Tampa Bay in Jannus' Benoist biplane seaplane. Chalk's Airlines (now Chalk's International Airlines) began service between Miami and Bimini in the Bahamas in February 1919. Now based in Ft. Lauderdale, Chalk's claims to be the oldest continuously operating airline in the United States.
Following World War I, the United States found itself swamped with aviators. Many decided to take their war-surplus aircraft on barnstorming campaigns, performing acrobatic maneuvers to woo crowds. In 1918, the United States Postal Service won the financial backing of Congress to begin experimenting with air mail service, initially using Curtiss Jenny aircraft that had been procured by the United States Army for reconnaissance missions on the Western Front. Private operators were the first to fly the mail but due to numerous accidents the US Army was tasked with mail delivery. During the course of the Army's involvement they proved to be too unreliable and lost their air mail duties. By the mid-1920s, the Postal Service had developed its own air mail network, based on a transcontinental backbone between New York and San Francisco. To supplant this service, they offered twelve contracts for spur routes to independent bidders: the carriers that won these routes would, through time and mergers, evolve into Delta Air Lines, Braniff Airways, American Airlines, United Airlines (originally a division of Boeing), Trans World Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and Eastern Air Lines, to name a few.
Passenger service during the early 1920s was sporadic: most airlines at the time were focused on carrying bags of mail. In 1925, however, the Ford Motor Company bought out the Stout Aircraft Company and began construction of the all-metal Ford Trimotor, which became the first successful American airliner. With a 12-passenger capacity, the Trimotor made passenger service potentially profitable. Air service was seen as a supplement to rail service in the American transportation network.
At the same time, Juan Trippe began a crusade to create an air network that would link America to the world, and he achieved this goal through his airline, Pan American World Airways, with a fleet of flying boats that linked Los Angeles to Shanghai and Boston to London. Pan Am was the only U.S. airline to go international before the 1940s.
With the introduction of the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-3 in the 1930s, the U.S. airline industry was generally profitable, even during the Great Depression. This trend continued until the beginning of World War II.
Early development of airlines in Europe
KLM, the oldest carrier still operating under its original name, was founded in 1919. The first flight transported two English passengers to Schiphol, Amsterdam from London in 1920. Like other major European airlines of the time (see France and the UK below), KLM's early growth depended heavily on the needs to service links with far-flung colonial possessions (Dutch Indies). It is only after the loss of the Dutch Empire that KLM found itself based at a small country with few potential passengers, depending heavily on transfer traffic, and was one of the first to introduce the hub-system to facilitate easy connections.
France began an air mail service to Morocco in 1919 that was bought out in 1927, renamed Aéropostale, and injected with capital to become a major international carrier. In 1933, Aéropostale went bankrupt, was nationalized and merged with several other airlines into what became Air France.
In Finland, the charter establishing Aero O/Y (now Finnair, one of the oldest still-operating airlines in the world) was signed in the city of Helsinki on 12 September 1923. Junkers F 13 D-335 became the first aircraft of the company, when Aero took delivery of it on 14 March 1924. The first flight was between Helsinki and Tallinn, capital of Estonia, and it took place on 20 March 1924, one week later.
Germany's Lufthansa began in 1926. Lufthansa, unlike most other airlines at the time, became a major investor in airlines outside of Europe, providing capital to Varig and Avianca. German airliners built by Junkers, Dornier, and Fokker were the most advanced in the world at the time. The peak of German air travel came in the mid-1930s, when Nazi propaganda ministers approved the start of commercial zeppelin service: the big airships were a symbol of industrial might, but the fact that they used flammable hydrogen gas raised safety concerns that culminated with the Hindenburg disaster of 1937. The reason they used hydrogen instead of the not-flammable helium gas was a United States military embargo on helium.
The United Kingdom's flag carrier during this period was Imperial Airways, which became BOAC (British Overseas Airlines Co.) in 1939. Imperial Airways used huge Handley-Page biplanes for routes between London, the Middle East, and India: images of Imperial aircraft in the middle of the Rub'al Khali, being maintained by Bedouins, are among the most famous pictures from the heyday of the British Empire.
Development of airlines post-1945
As governments met to set the standards and scope for an emergent civil air industry toward the end of the war, it was no surprise that the U.S. took a position of maximum operating freedom. After all, U.S. airline companies were not devastated by the war, as European companies and the few Asian companies had been. This preference for "open skies" operating regimes continues, within limitations, to this day.
World War II, like World War I, brought new life to the airline industry. Many airlines in the Allied countries were flush from lease contracts to the military, and foresaw a future explosive demand for civil air transport, for both passengers and cargo. They were eager to invest in the newly emerging flagships of air travel such as the Boeing Stratocruiser, Lockheed Constellation, and Douglas DC-6. Most of these new aircraft were based on American bombers such as the B-29, which had spearheaded research into new technologies such as pressurization. Most offered increased efficiency from both added speed and greater payload.
In the 1950s, the De Havilland Comet, Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8, and Sud Aviation Caravelle became the first flagships of the Jet Age in the West, while the Soviet Union bloc countered with the Tupolev Tu-104 and Tupolev Tu-124 in the fleets of state-owned carriers such as Aeroflot and Interflug. The Vickers Viscount and Lockheed L-188 Electra inaugurated turboprop transport.
The next big boost for the airlines would come in the 1970s, when the Boeing 747, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and Lockheed L-1011 inaugurated widebody ("jumbo jet") service, which is still the standard in international travel. The Tupolev Tu-144 and its Western counterpart, Concorde, made supersonic travel a reality. In 1972, Airbus began producing Europe's most commercially successful line of airliners to date. The added efficiencies for these aircraft were often not in speed, but in passenger capacity, payload, and range.
1978's U.S. airline industry deregulation lowered barriers for new airlines. In this period, new start-ups entered during downturns in the normal 8-10 year business cycle. At that time, they find aircraft, are financed, contract hangar and maintenance services, train new employees, and recruit laid off staff from other airlines.
As the business cycle returned to normalcy, major airlines dominated their routes through aggressive pricing and additional capacity offerings, often swamping new startups. Only America West Airlines (which has since merged with US Airways) remained a significant survivor from this new entrant era, as dozens, even hundreds, have gone under.
In many ways, the biggest winner in the deregulated environment was the air passenger. Indeed, the U.S. witnessed an explosive growth in demand for air travel, as many millions who had never or rarely flown before became regular fliers, even joining frequent flyer loyalty programs and receiving free flights and other benefits from their flying. New services and higher frequencies meant that business fliers could fly to another city, do business, and return the same day, for almost any point in the country. Air travel's advantages put intercity bus lines under pressure, and most have withered away.
By the 1980s, almost half of the total flying in the world took place in the U.S., and today the domestic industry operates over 10,000 daily departures nationwide.
Toward the end of the century, a new style of low cost airline emerged, offering a no-frills product at a lower price. Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, AirTran Airways, Skybus Airlines and other low-cost carriers represent a serious challenge to today's legacy airlines, as do their low-cost counterparts in Europe, Canada, and Asia. Their commercial viability represents a serious competitive threat to the legacy carriers.
Thus the last 50 years of the airline industry have varied from reasonably profitable, to devastatingly depressed. As the first major market to deregulate the industry in 1978, U.S. airlines have experienced more turbulence than almost any other country or region. Today, airlines representing approximately one-half of total U.S. seat capacity are operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy provisions.
Many countries have national airlines that are owned and operated by the government. Even fully privatized airlines are subject to a great deal of government regulation for economic, political, and safety concerns. Airline labor actions, for instance, are often halted by government intervention in order to protect the free flow of people, communications, and goods between different regions without compromising safety.
The United States, Australia, and to a lesser extent Brazil, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Japan have "deregulated" their airlines. In the past, these governments dictated airfares, route networks, and other operational requirements for each airline. Since deregulation, airlines have been largely free to negotiate their own operating arrangements with different airports, enter and exit routes easily, and to levy airfares and supply flights according to market demand.
The entry barriers for new airlines are lower in a deregulated market, and so the U.S. has seen hundreds of airlines start up (sometimes for only a brief operating period). This has produced far greater competition than before deregulation in most markets, and average fares tend to drop 20% or more. The added competition, together with pricing freedom, means that new entrants often take market share with highly reduced rates that, to a limited degree, full service airlines must match. This is a major constraint on profitability for established carriers, which tend to have a higher cost base.
As a result, profitability in a deregulated market is uneven for most airlines. These forces have caused some major airlines to go out of business, in addition to most of the poorly established new entrants.
Groups such as the International Civil Aviation Organization establish worldwide standards for safety and other vital concerns. Most international air traffic is regulated by bilateral agreements between countries, which designate specific carriers to operate on specific routes. The model of such an agreement was the Bermuda Agreement between the US and UK following World War II, which designated airports to be used for transatlantic flights and gave each government the authority to nominate carriers to operate routes.
Bilateral agreements are based on the "freedoms of the air," a group of generalized traffic rights ranging from the freedom to overfly a country to the freedom to provide domestic flights within a country (a very rarely granted right known as cabotage). Most agreements permit airlines to fly from their home country to designated airports in the other country: some also extend the freedom to provide continuing service to a third country, or to another destination in the other country while carrying passengers from overseas.
In the 1990s, "open skies" agreements became more common, which take many of these regulatory powers from state governments and open up international routes to further competition. Open skies agreements have met some criticism, particularly within the European Union, whose airlines would be at a comparative disadvantage with the United States' because of cabotage restrictions.
Historically, air travel has survived largely through state support, whether in the form of equity or subsidies. The airline industry as a whole has made a cumulative loss during its 120-year history, once subsidies for aircraft development and airport construction are included in the cost.
The lack of profitability and continuing government subsidies are justified with the argument that positive externalities, such as higher growth due to global mobility, outweigh microeconomic losses. A historically high level of government intervention in the airline industry can be seen as part of a wider political consensus on strategic forms of transport, such as highways and railways, both of which are also publicly funded in most parts of the world. Profitability is likely to improve in the future as privatization continues and more competitive low-cost carriers proliferate.
Although many countries continue to operate state-owned or parastatal airlines, many large airlines today are privately owned and are therefore governed by microeconomic principles in order to maximize shareholder profit.
Airlines assign prices to their services in an attempt to maximize profitability. The pricing of airline tickets has become increasingly complicated over the years and is now largely determined by computerized yield management systems.
Most airlines use differentiated pricing, a form of price discrimination, in order to sell air services at varying prices simultaneously to different segments. Factors influencing the price include the days remaining until departure, the current booked load factor, the forecast of total demand by price point, competitive pricing in force, and variations by day of week of departure and by time of day. Carriers often accomplish this by dividing each cabin of the aircraft (first, business and economy) into a number of travel classes for pricing purposes.
A complicating factor is that of origin-destination control ("O&D control"). Someone purchasing a ticket from say, Melbourne to Sydney for $A200 is competing with someone else who wants to fly Melbourne to Los Angeles through Sydney on the same airplane, and who is willing to pay $A1400. Should the airline prefer the $A1400 passenger, or the $A200 passenger + a possible Sydney-Los Angeles passenger willing to pay $A1300? Airlines have to make hundreds of thousands of similar pricing decisions daily in their markets.
The advent of advanced computerized reservations systems in the late 1970s, most notably Sabre, allowed airlines to easily perform cost-benefit analyses on different pricing structures, leading to almost perfect price discrimination in some cases (that is, filling each seat on an aircraft at the highest price that can be charged without driving the consumer elsewhere). The intense nature of airfare pricing has led to the term "fare war" to describe efforts by airlines to undercut other airlines on competitive routes. Through computers, new airfares can be published quickly and efficiently to the airlines' sales channels. For this purpose the airlines use the Airline Tariff Publishing Company (ATPCO), who distribute latest fares for more than 500 airlines to Computer Reservation Systems across the world.
The extent of these pricing phenomena is strongest in "legacy" carriers. In contrast, low fare carriers usually offer preannounced and simplified price structure, and often quote prices for each leg of a trip separately.
Computers also allow airlines to predict, with some accuracy, how many passengers will actually fly after making a reservation to fly. This allows airlines to overbook their flights enough to fill the aircraft while accounting for "no-shows," but not enough (in most cases) to force paying passengers off the aircraft for lack of seats. Since an average of ⅓ of all seats are flown empty, stimulative pricing for low demand flights coupled with overbooking on high demand flights can help reduce this figure.
Full-service airlines have a high level of fixed and operating costs in order to establish and maintain air services: labor, fuel, airplanes, engines, spares and parts, IT services and networks, airport equipment, airport handling services, sales distribution, catering, training, Aviation insurance and other costs. Thus all but a small percentage of the income from ticket sales is paid out to a wide variety of external providers or internal cost centers.
Moreover, the industry is structured so that airlines often act as tax collectors. Airline fuel is untaxed, however, due to a series of treaties existing between countries. Ticket prices include a number of fees, taxes, and surcharges they have little or no control over, and these are passed through to various providers. Airlines are also responsible for enforcing government regulations. If airlines carry passengers without proper documentation on an international flight, they are responsible for returning them back to the originating country.
Analysis of the 1992-1996 period shows that every player in the air transport chain is far more profitable than the airlines, who collect and pass through fees and revenues to them from ticket sales. While airlines as a whole earned 6% return on capital employed (2-3.5% less than the cost of capital), airports earned 10%, catering companies 10-13%, handling companies 11-14%, aircraft lessors 15%, aircraft manufacturers 16%, and global distribution companies more than 30%. (Source: Spinetta, 2000, quoted in Doganis, 2002)
In contrast, Southwest Airlines has been the most profitable of airline companies since 1970. Indeed, some sources have calculated Southwest to be the best performing stock over the period, outperforming Microsoft and many other high performing companies. The chief reasons for this are their product consistency and cost control.
The widespread entrance of a new breed of low cost airlines beginning at the turn of the century has accelerated the demand that full service carriers control costs. Many of these low cost companies emulate Southwest Airlines in various respects, and like Southwest, they are able to eke out a consistent profit throughout all phases of the business cycle.
As a result, a shakeout of airlines is occurring in the U.S. and elsewhere. United Airlines, US Airways (twice), Delta Air Lines, and Northwest Airlines have all declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and American has barely avoided doing so. Alitalia, Scandinavian Airlines System, SABENA, Japan Air System, Air Canada, Ansett Australia, and others have flirted with or declared bankruptcy since 2000, as low cost entrants enter their home markets as well. Some argue that it would be far better for the industry as a whole if a wave of actual closures were to reduce the number of "undead" airlines competing with healthy airlines while being artificially protected from creditors via bankruptcy law. On the other hand, some have pointed out that the reduction in capacity would be short lived given that there would be large quantities of relatively new aircraft that bankruptcies would want to get rid of and would re-enter the market either as increased fleets for the survivors or the basis of cheap planes for new startups.
Where an airline has established an engineering base at an airport then there may be considerable economic advantages in using that same airport as a preferred focus (or "hub") for its scheduled flights.
Assets and financing
Airline financing is quite complex, since airlines are highly leveraged operations. Not only must they purchase (or lease) new airliner bodies and engines regularly, they must make major long-term fleet decisions with the goal of meeting the demands of their markets while producing a fleet that is relatively economical to operate and maintain. Compare Southwest Airlines and their reliance on a single airplane type (the Boeing 737 and derivatives), with the now defunct Eastern Air Lines which operated 17 different aircraft types, each with varying pilot, engine, maintenance, and support needs.
A second financial issue is that of hedging oil and fuel purchases, usually second only to labor in its relative cost to the company but with the current high fuel prices it has become biggest part of total airlines expenses. While hedging instruments can be expensive, they can easily pay for themselves many times over in periods of increasing fuel costs, such as in the 2000-2005 period.
In view of the congestion apparent at many international airports, the ownership of slots at certain airports (the right to take-off or land an aircraft at a particular time of day or night) has become a significant tradable asset for many airlines. Clearly take-off slots at popular times of the day can be critical in attracting the more profitable business traveler to a given airline's flight and in establishing a competitive advantage against a competing airline. If a particular city has two or more airports, market forces will tend to attract the less profitable routes, or those on which competition is weakest, to the less congested airport, where slots are likely to be more available and therefore cheaper. Other factors, such as surface transport facilities and onward connections, will also affect the relative appeal of different airports and some long distance flights may need to operate from the one with the longest runway.
Code sharing is the most common type of airline partnership; it involves one airline selling tickets for another airline's flights under its own airline code. An early example of this was Japan Airlines' code sharing partnership with Aeroflot in the 1960s on flights from Tokyo to Moscow: Aeroflot operated the flights using Aeroflot aircraft, but JAL sold tickets for the flights as if they were JAL flights. This practice allows airlines to expand their operations, at least on paper, into parts of the world where they cannot afford to establish bases or purchase aircraft.
Since airline reservation requests are often made by city-pair (such as "show me flights from Chicago to Düsseldorf"), an airline who is able to code share with another airline for a variety of routes might be able to be listed as indeed offering a Chicago-Düsseldorf flight. The passenger is advised however, that Airline 1 operates the flight from say Chicago to Amsterdam, and Airline 2 operates the continuing flight (on a different airplane, sometimes from another terminal) to Düsseldorf. Thus the primary rationale for code sharing is to expand one's service offerings in city-pair terms so as to increase sales.
Virtually all international airlines practice code sharing.
A more recent development is the airline alliance, which became prevalent in the 1990s. These alliances can act as virtual mergers to get around government restrictions. Groups of airlines such as the Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam coordinate their passenger service programs (such as lounges and frequent flyer programs), offer special interline tickets, and often engage in extensive codesharing (sometimes systemwide). These are increasingly integrated business combinations-- sometimes including cross-equity arrangements-- in which products, service standards, schedules, and airport facilities are standardized and combined for higher efficiency. One of the first airlines to start an alliance with another airline was KLM, who partnered with Northwest Airlines. Both airlines later entered the SkyTeam alliance after the fusion of KLM and Air France in 2004.
Often the companies combine IT operations, buy fuel, or purchase airplanes as a bloc in order to achieve higher bargaining power. However, the alliances have been most successful at purchasing invisible supplies and services, such as fuel. Airlines usually prefer to purchase items visible to their passengers to differentiate themselves from local competitors. If an airline's main domestic competitor flies Boeing airliners, then the airline may prefer to use Airbus aircraft regardless of what the rest of the alliance chooses.
Customs and conventions
Each operator of a scheduled or charter flight uses a distinct airline call sign when communicating with airports or air traffic control centers. Most of these call-signs are derived from the airline's trade name, but for reasons of history, marketing, or the need to reduce ambiguity in spoken English (so that pilots do not mistakenly make navigational decisions based on instructions issued to a different aircraft), some airlines and air forces use call-signs less obviously connected with their trading name. For example, British Airways uses a Speedbird call-sign, named after the logo of its predecessor, BOAC while America West used Cactus reflecting that company's home in the state of Arizona and to differentiate itself from numerous other airlines using America and West in their call signs.
The various types of airline personnel include:
- Flight crews, responsible for the operation of the aircraft. Flight crew members include:
- Groundcrews, responsible for operations at airports. Ground crew members include:
- Reservations Agents, usually (but not always) at facilities outside the airport.
Most airlines follow a corporate structure where each broad area of operations (such as maintenance, flight operations, and passenger service) is supervised by a vice president. Larger airlines often appoint vice presidents to oversee each of the airline's hubs as well. Airlines also tend to employ considerable numbers of lawyers to deal with regulatory procedures and other administrative tasks.
- Air safety
- Airport security – no longer a responsibility of the airlines.
- Cargo airline
- Charter airline
- Regional airline
- Air ferry
- Government contract flight
- Low-cost carrier
- Airlines at the movies
- 1000 Airlines in Color
- Airline timetable
- Flight planning
- Red-eye flight
- Transportation Security Administration
- Federal Aviation Administration
- IATA – industry standards organization
- List of largest airlines
- List of low-cost airlines
- List of hub airports
- List of airlines –
- List of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
- List of national airlines
- List of defunct airlines
- Timeline of airline bankruptcies
- Chasing the Sun - History of commercial aviation, from PBS
- Global Aviation Markets Whitepaper on global markets for airlines
- "A history of the world's airlines", R.E.G. Davies, Oxford U.P, 1964
- "The airline encyclopedia, 1909-2000.” Myron J. Smith, Scarecrow Press, 2002
- "Flying Off Course: The Economics of International Airlines," 3rd edition. Rigas Doganis, Routledge, New York, 2002.
- "The Airline Business in the 21st Century." Rigas Doganis, Routledge, New York, 2001.
- ^ Wings of Desire, Guardian, Thursday February 23, 2006
- ^ Airlines and the canine features of unprofitable industries Financial Times, 27 September 2005
CSA Czech Airlines (in Czech: České aerolinie (abbreviation: ČSA) is the Czech national airline company, and former national carrier of Czechoslovakia based at Ruzyně International Airport, Prague. It operates scheduled services to over 120 destin
ations in 52 countries, including most major European cities and to transit points in North America, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa It also operates charter and cargo services. In 2006 it carried over 5 and half million passengers. The airline runs a frequent flyer programme called the "OK Plus Frequent Flyer Programme". It is a member of the SkyTeam alliance.
CSA was founded on October 6, 1923 by the Czechoslovak government as CSA Československé státní aerolinie. Twenty-three days later its first transport flight took place, flying between Prague and Bratislava. It operated only domestic services until its first international flight from Prague to Bratislava and Zagreb in 1930. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939 development of the airline was terminated.
In January 1948 the Communist Party seized power in Czechoslovakia, suspended some western European and Middle East routes, and replaced much of the fleet with Soviet-built aircraft. In 1957 CSA became one of the world's first airlines to fly jet services, taking delivery of the first Tupolev TU-104A. The first transatlantic services started on 3 February 1962 with a flight to Havana, using a Bristol Britannia jet-prop ceded by Cubana de Aviación. CSA's transatlantic flights were code-shared with Cubana's own services to Prague, and Cubana's crews provided initial training and assistance in the operation of the Britannias.
The Britannia was replaced with Ilyushin IL-62 aircraft in the late 1960s, and new transatlantic routes were established to Montreal and New York, besides Havana. Tupolev TU-134, Ilyushin IL-18 and other Soviet-built aircraft were used in CSA's European services. In the 1990s, all Soviet-built aircraft were replaced with Western-built ones, such as the Boeing 737s and A310s, Airbus A-320s, and short-range ATR aircraft.
After the breakup of the Czechoslovak Federation the airline adopted its present name in May 1995. CSA became a full member of the Sky Team alliance on 18 October 2000. The airline is owned by the Czech Ministry of Finance (56.92%), Czech Consolidation Agency (34.59%) and other Czech institutions. It had 4,411 employees (as of January 2005) and has 5,440 employees (at March 2007).
- Further information: Czech Airlines destinations
Accidents and incidents
Flight 006 In February 1994, a Boeing 737 overshot a runway in Toronto Pearson International Airport. There were 158 people on board. There were no dead but 56 people had minor injuries. The cause was bad weather.
The Czech Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft as of February 2007:
|Airbus A310-300||3||201 (21/188) |
|North America||Long haul|
|Airbus A319-100||2 |
|Airbus A321-200||2||212||Europe and Middle East||Short-medium haul|
|Boeing 737-400||11||144 (12/132) |
|Boeing 737-500||13||108 (12/90)||Short-medium haul|
|ATR 42-300||1||46||Short haul|
|ATR 42-500||7||46||Short haul|
|ATR 72-200||4||64||Short haul|
The average age of the CSA fleet is 8.6 years as of February 2007.
Incidents and accidents
|March 28, 1961||Ilyushin 18V flight 001||Nürnberg, Germany||Crashed While Approaching||52||0||0||0|
|July 12, 1961||Ilyushin 18V OK-PAF||Casablanca-Anfa, Morocco||Incliment Weather||72||0||0||0|
|August 20, 1975||Ilyushin 62 OK-DBF||Damascus, Syria||Crashed while Approaching||126||2||0||0|
|July 28, 1976||Ilyushin 18V OK-NAB||Bratislava, Czechoslovakia||Crashed while Approaching||77||2||0||0|
The official definition of an airliner varies from country to country, but the common definition is an aircraft with seating for 20 or more passengers and/or an empty weight above 22,680 kg (50,000 lb.), with two or more engines.
History of airliners
If an airliner is defined as a plane intended for carrying multiple passengers in commercial service, the Ford Trimotor was the first well known passenger aircraft. With two engines mounted on the wings and one in the nose and a slabsided body, it carried 8 passengers and was produced from 1925 to 1933 and was used by the predecessor to TWA as well as other airlines long after production ceased. With the 1932 development of the smoother, sleeker looking 14 passenger DC-2 and its 1935 successor the more powerful faster 21-32 passenger DC-3 planes that looked like modern airliners took to the airways. DC-3's were produced in quantity for WWII and sold as surplus afterward. The writer rode in a DC-3 on a commercial flight in Iowa when drafted in 1967.
Immediately after World War II, airliners were based on the heavy bombers of the war period.
The first jet airliners came in the immediate post war era. Turbojet engines were trialled on piston engine airframes such as the Avro Lancastrian and the Vickers VC.1 Viking the latter becoming the first jet engined passenger aircraft in April 1948. The first purpose built jet airliners were the de Havilland Comet (UK) and the Avro Jetliner (Canada). The former entered production and service while the latter did not. The Comet was unfortunate in that it revealed the possibility of metal fatigue taking down a plane, which was discovered only after several disappearances and crashes and considerable testing.
Jets did not immediately replace piston engines and many designs used the turboprop rather than the turbojet or the later turbofan engines.
Types of airliners
The largest airliners are wide-body jets. In the aviation industry, these aircraft are frequently called twin-aisle aircraft because they generally have two separate aisles running from the front to the back of the passenger cabin. Aircraft in this category are the Boeing 747, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Airbus A300/A310, Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Airbus A380, Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, Ilyushin Il-86 and Ilyushin Il-96. These aircraft are usually used for long-haul flights between airline hubs and major cities with many passengers. Future wide-body models include the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.
A smaller, more common class of airliners are the narrow-body or single aisle aircraft. These smaller airliners are generally used for medium-distance flights with fewer passengers than their wide-body counterparts.
Examples include the Boeing 717, 737, 757, McDonnell Douglas DC-9 & MD80 series, and Airbus A320 family. Older airliners like the Boeing 707, 727, McDonnell Douglas DC-8, Fokker 70/100, VC10, Tupolev, and Yakovlev jets also fit into this category.
Regional airliners typically seat fewer than 100 passengers and may be powered by turbofans or turboprops. These airliners, though smaller than aircraft operated by major airlines, frequently serve customers who expect service similar to that offered by crew on larger aircraft. Therefore, most regional airliners are equipped with lavatories and have a flight attendant to look after the in-flight needs of the passengers.
Typical aircraft in this category are the Embraer ERJ, Bombardier CRJ series and "Q" (DASH-8) series, ATR 42/72 and Saab 340/2000. Airlines and their partners sometimes use these for short flights between small hubs, or for bringing passengers to hub cities where they may board larger aircraft.
Passenger aircraft with 19 or fewer passenger seats are called commuter aircraft or air taxis, depending on their size, engines, and seating configurations. The Beechcraft 1900, for example, has only 19 seats and thus, depending on local and national regulations, it may not qualify as an airliner and may not be subject to the regulations applied to larger aircraft.
Members of this class of aircraft normally lack such amenities as lavatories and galleys and typically do not carry a flight attendant.
Other aircraft in this category are the Fairchild Metro, Jetstream 31/41, IPTN CN-235, and Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante. The Cessna Caravan, a single-engine turboprop, is sometimes used as a small airliner, although many countries stipulate a minimum requirement of two engines for aircraft to be used as airliners.
Until the beginning of the jet age, piston engines were common on propliners like the Douglas DC-3. Now nearly all modern airliners are powered by turbine engines, either turbofans or turboprops. Gas turbine engines operate efficiently at much higher altitudes, are far more reliable than piston engines, and produce less vibration and noise.
Some variants of airliners have been developed for carrying freight or for luxury corporate use. Many airliners have also been modified for government use as "VIP" transports and for military functions such as airborne tankers (for example, the Vickers VC-10, Lockheed L1011, Boeing 707), air ambulance (USAF/USN McDonnell-Douglas DC-9), reconnaissance (Embraer ERJ 145, Saab 340, Boeing 737), as well as for troop-carrying roles.
Historically, a few manufacturers have dominated the market for large airliners. These include:
- United States
- Russian companies (formerly Soviet-controlled)
The large (100 seat or greater) airliner market is dominated by two companies: Airbus, a Western European aviation conglomerate, and Boeing, based in the United States. With the emergence of Airbus as a competitor to Boeing, both companies, backed by their respective governments (the European Union and European governments on one side, the US government on the other side), have recently been engaged in various trade disputes. Each side accuses the other of being unfairly subsidized by their respective governments. Owing to its origin as a combination of state-owned aviation enterprises, Airbus receives a significant portion of its operating budget directly from various European governments, ostensibly as loans, but without the obligation to repay them. On the other hand, Boeing gets research and development funding from NASA and the US Department of Defense, various tax breaks (which all similar US companies receive), and a large volume of military orders, all of which Airbus views as indirect subsidies.
In addition to their main headquarters in Europe and the United States, both Airbus and Boeing use subcontractors from many countries. For example, Boeing has long had major components built by companies in Japan with various subsystems coming from Europe and Asia. Airbus aircraft are often equipped with engines, auxiliary power units, and electronic systems built in the US. Thus, while both companies may try to present themselves as strictly national entities, the airliners they build are composed of components manufactured across the globe.
Below are some famous airliners:
- The Douglas DC-3 - Considered by many to be the first true airliner
- The triple-tailed Lockheed Constellation of the 1950s
- The De Havilland Comet - First jet airliner in service
- The Sud Caravelle - First successful jet airliner.
- The Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 - The American-built jetliners that popularized the advantages of jet airliners
- The Boeing 727 - One of the most successful airliners in service
- The Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar - One of the first wide-bodies in service
- The Douglas DC-9 - More than 1000 built. Many still in service.
- The Boeing 737 - The best selling civilian jet airliner of all time
- The Airbus A320- Pioneer of fly-by-wire
- The Concorde - Capable of flying at twice the speed of sound and operated from 1976 to 2003 by British Airways and Air France
- The Airbus A330/Airbus A340 - Quietest cabin in the sky.
- The Boeing 747 "jumbo jet" - the largest airliner between 1968 and 2005
- The Boeing 777 The first airliner designed entirely by computer (no mockups were used), saving money usually allotted for mockups
- The Airbus A380 "superjumbo" - The world's largest airliner to date, featuring two full-length twin-aisle passenger cabins, is expected to start service with Singapore Airlines in October 2007.
As airliners are very expensive, most are leased out for long periods of time (typically from 20 to 40 years) and very few go back into service after a long lease is up because evolving aerospace technology leaves older airliners unable to compete against newer machines that can be operated at a lower cost. Many end-of-service airliners end up in the Mojave Desert, at the Mojave Spaceport (also known as "The Airplane Boneyard"). From this, the term "Mojave" has come to refer to the temporary storage of aircraft, e.g. during decreased demand for air travel and between short-term leases. Another common location to retire airliners is Marana, Arizona.
While eventually almost every airliner will be reduced to scrap (the exceptions end up as museum pieces or flown by collector groups) they may pass through many owners before they are finally retired. A well-maintained airliner can operate safely for decades, depending on how often it is flown, its operating environment, and whether damage and wear and tear is properly repaired.
What may end an airliner's working life is a lack of spare parts, as the original manufacturer and third manufacturers may no longer provide or support them. Corrosion and metal fatigue are other issues that become more expensive to deal with as time goes on. Eventually, these factors and advances in aircraft technology lead to older airliners becoming too expensive or inefficient to operate.
In order to protect the environment, the Airbus company has set up a special centre in France to decommission and recycle older aircraft. More than 200 airliners will finish active life each year, and will be dismantled and recycled under the newly established PAMELA Project.