Air Leap pauses its routes from Ängelholm Helsingborg and Malmö to Stockholm Bromma in October. The reason is that the passenger numbers are not sufficient on the routes where they compete with well-established SAS and BRA. Air Leap’s announcement to pause air traffic to Skåne shows the difficulty of establishing itself in the aviation market as a new brand, while perhaps local “airlines” are not as important now as they used to be?
Competition between SAS, BRA and the Air Leap Group in the Swedish domestic market will decrease in the future. This is when Air Leap’s brand Air Skåne gives up its two routes to Stockholm Bromma in October. The number of passengers is simply not sufficient for Air Leap to be able to continue flying and their investment in local brands and a large local presence proved not to be sufficient to attract passengers on the Ängelholm / Helsingborg-Stockholm and Malmö-Stockholm routes.
During the year, Air Leap established the local brands, Air Halland and Air Skåne, to be a more locally based alternative for flights to Stockholm compared with the existing operators SAS and BRA. They more or less copied the Sverigeflyg concept, which was successful, but in 2021 it did not turn out as well, at least not on flights between Skåne and Stockholm. Possibly the investment in local brand would have been made already when traffic started to Skåne in August 2020 to establish it before BRA resumed its traffic in May 2021? At the same time, it should be emphasized that Air Leap remains as Air Halland and Air Gotland at Halmstad-Stockholm and Visby-Stockholm, respectively, and here there are obviously more satisfactory results.
Air Leap’s announcement that they are pausing Ängelholm Helsingborg-Stockholm Bromma and Malmö-Stockholm Bromma comes after the passenger figures that they wanted to have missed. The airline itself states that there is an overcapacity on the routes and Air Leap has pulled the shortest straw compared to competitors SAS and BRA. SAS and BRA are already well-established brands, while Air Leap has tried to establish a new one, Air Skåne. It has obviously been difficult and maybe it is the case that things like the local morning newspaper and a breakfast sandwich from a local bakery on board the morning flight are not a factor that makes you choose to fly with an airline? Instead, it may be the ticket price that makes the difference in combination with a tight timetable.
In the Swedish domestic market, before the pandemic, it was above all a tight timetable with many departures that affects which airline a traveler chooses, and then mainly how business travelers choose. The pandemic has meant that the number of business travelers has decreased and the airlines’ timetables have been sparse in order to adapt to current demand. It is noteworthy that Air Leap has offered a timetable with fewer departures than both SAS and BRA from Ängelholm and Malmö during the summer and early autumn and this may be part of the company’s currently failed venture. At the same time, the proportion of travelers who are sensitive to what the timetable looks like should be fewer, as there are fewer business travelers, which reduces this factor.
When an airline enters a new market and wants to take market share from existing operators, you can, for example, attract with better service and lower prices than your competitors. Through Air Skåne, Air Leap has invested in a local presence and a fast turboprop aircraft, which differentiates it from its competitors, but it has obviously not been enough. Offering lower prices to travelers is another way to differentiate, but Air Leap has not been able to take advantage of this in its domestic investment. When the more well-known operators SAS and BRA do everything they can to attract travelers when travel restrictions ease, the ticket prices at these are almost as low as they can be and it is incredibly difficult for a new player like Air Leap to distinguish themselves with low ticket prices when already existing players have very low prices.
At the same time, it has been the leisure travelers who have so far driven the recovery of flying and they are admittedly more price sensitive than business travelers, but when both BRA and SAS offer more departures than Air Leap made at Ängelholm Helsingborg-Stockholm and Malmö-Stockholm, too few choose Air Leap / Air Skåne so that the airline can continue. At the beginning of the autumn, Air Leap has since stated that the recovery for domestic flights has not taken place at the pace needed to be able to continue on its routes that Air Skåne has.
Air Leap states, however, that they only pause the routes to Skåne from Stockholm and are prepared to resume traffic when the market is ready again. When and if it happens, it is difficult to predict, but possibly Air Skåne or another Air Leap local alternative such as Sverigeflyg can make a new attempt again. The question is, however, whether it is right to invest in domestic routes where there are already two competitors flying to Arlanda and Bromma. After all, there are domestic routes in Sweden where competition is lower, passenger volumes are greater and the resistance to the pandemic is better than the routes Air Leap has chosen to invest in. Maybe an investment like Air Norrbotten on Luleå-Stockholm Bromma is worth a try?
(Photo: Karl Andersson)
Credit: Simon Ericson & Flyg24Nyheter
Original article (SE): https://flyg24nyheter.com/2021/09/28/darfor-blev-det-for-tufft-for-air-leap-i-skane/