airBaltic ticket prices ex­pected to de­cline next year

Baltic News Network - - News -

Prices of tick­ets for flights of Lat­vian na­tional airBaltic air­line may de­cline some­what next year, says airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss.

He ex­plains that this year’s priced have de­clined some­what, and he pre­dicts this ten­dency may con­tinue next year as well, but only if po­si­tions of dif­fer­ent costs re­main the same. «Of course, if oil prices and US dol­lar prices in­crease, this pre­dic­tion will not come to pass.»

Gauss adds: «The mar­ket is dic­tated by prices, not us. Mod­ern peo­ple pick the cheap­est flight of­fers from the book­ing sys­tem. Loy­alty to a spe­cific air­line is ba­si­cally non-ex­is­tent when it comes to eco­nomic class. The sit­u­a­tion is much bet­ter in busi­ness class. It is all the same for other air­lines. We just have to adapt to de­mand.» When asked how he views the ini­tia­tive to col­lect sig­na­tures in or­der to make sure air­lines are un­able to sell more tick­ets than there are seats in air­craft, Gauss said airBaltic is not among air­lines for which this would be a big prob­lem.

«Yes, even we tend to sell more tick­ets that there are seats. But the num­ber of cases when we ask pas­sen­gers to change their flight plans is in­signif­i­cant. Such cases do tend to at­tract at­ten­tion of the me­dia and gen­eral pub­lic. We have de­vel­oped a com­pen­sa­tion mech­a­nism. It is thanks to this mech­a­nism that the num­ber of com­plaints is very, very small. First of all, if a prob­lem­atic sit­u­a­tion ap­pears, we ask pas­sen­gers if they would be will­ing to vol­un­tar­ily change flights in ex­change for com­pen­sa­tion. Be­cause we mostly per­form short-dis­tance flights, there are rarely any prob­lems with find­ing vol­un­teers,» says airBaltic CEO. At the same time, he notes that some­times flights get over­loaded and some­times flights are can­celled be­cause of tech­ni­cal rea­sons. «A stan­dard com­pen­sa­tion is paid in this case. Peo­ple are usu­ally very un­happy about such cases. I have ex­pe­ri­enced forced change of flight plans my­self; this year more of­ten than in the past. I al­low that this is re­lated to mar­ket growth – when the num­ber of car­ried pas­sen­gers in­creases, so does the num­ber of such cases.»

Gauss notes that there can be all kinds of rea­sons be­hind flight can­cel­la­tions and de­lays. For ex­am­ple, if a vol­cano erupts in Si­cily, the flight path can be di­verted closer to Italy’s cen­tre. This means an air­craft can­not reach Riga and Tallinn. «We do what we can, but of­ten there is no way to avoid in­con­ve­niences. There are al­ways tech­ni­cal is­sues, poor weather and count­less other rea­sons,» Gauss ex­plains.

He also adds that by sell­ing more tick­ets than there are seats, the air­line pro­vides flex­i­bil­ity for its pas­sen­gers. «Peo­ple can pur­chase tick­ets for busi­ness class seats, but they do not have to warn us about not show­ing up to flights. There is a known per­cent­age of ticket buy­ers that do not show up.»

Gauss ex­plains that there are also math­e­mat­i­cal es­ti­mates about the pos­si­bil­ity of pas­sen­gers show­ing up. «Busi­ness class ticket price is rather high, and we have to re­fund it if pas­sen­gers never fly with us. The air­line has to keep those seats booked un­til the end of flight reg­is­tra­tion. There is no way for the air­line to of­fer peo­ple to pur­chase tick­ets half an hour be­fore de­par­ture. […] For ex­am­ple, some peo­ple buy two tick­ets – one for the morn­ing and the other for the af­ter­noon flight in busi­ness class, be­cause they don’t know which they will take in the end. Pay for both, use one and get re­funded for the other.»

He says that it is an ad­van­tage for trav­ellers, but a loss for the air­line, be­cause it has to keep seats re­served for both flights. «I think peo­ple would be rather cross if they could not re­fund their tick­ets. This does of­fer a great deal of flex­i­bil­ity,» says Gauss.

REUTERS/SCANPIX

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