The following sections describe the description of service, competitive comparison, technology, fulfillment, and future services.
Puddle Jumpers is in the business of providing low-cost, "discount" air travel to selected destinations from the Anytown, U.S.A. hub. The service approach is "no frills" with emphasis on safe, courteous handling of domestic regional passenger travel.
All consumer surveys still indicate that the air travel customer's preference is for "low fares." However, he or she is not willing to compromise on issues of safety or on-time performance. Customers will however, settle for lower levels of in-flight service in order to reduce the cost of travel.
Puddle Jumpers provides precisely the level of service today's air travel passenger demands.
The primary competition in the Anytown market is US Air. US Air accounts for 86% of the air travel volume in this market. This is as high a single market dominance that exists in any US market. Also, this results in the highest fares in the nation for travel in-and-out of Anytown. 0% of air travel is at discount fares in Anytown.
Puddle Jumpers feels that we can obtain a significant portion of this business. Our costs will be lower than US Air (7 cents per ASM vs. 12 cents per ASM). US Air is already in financial difficulty due to "sins of the past." Our costs will be significantly lower than "major" carriers such as Delta. This identifies a gap for only a "hub-based" short haul carrier in the Anytown market.
Operation of a single type of aircraft will have significant cost, maintenance, and training expense reduction.
Our aircraft will operate out of this single hub with high utilization based on price advantage. We will have an over-all competitive advantage since we don't have aircraft or operations outside of our limited focus. Other airlines must maintain "system-wide" load factors and utilization, while Puddle Jumpers will operate profitably within our "niche" market. This will serve as a barrier to entry from other competitors once we are entrenched. It is unlikely that larger airlines will be able to compete with our low fares nor will they have the desire as they focus on more profitable "long-haul" routes with larger airplanes.
Puddle Jumpers will achieve its target of 7 cents or less per available seat mile by a combination of cost saving measures. Savings will come in the areas of labor costs and from operational economies. Puddle Jumpers will utilize its flight crews significantly more than its competition. Flight crew utilization will be 60% above industry average. Both pilots and flight attendants will be deployed an average of 85 hours per month vs. an industry average of 50-60 hours. The company will realize additional savings in the insurance and benefits areas by virtue of having fewer crew members.
Eliminating meal service in-flight will save approximately $3.00 per seat per flight. This will also increase airplane utilization due to no need for catering service while in port. It is Puddle Jumpers's goal to utilize its fleet an average of 11 hours per day, 7 days per week.
All aircraft will be configured to a single coach seating capacity of 165 seats. This will maximize revenue on short-haul flights. MD-80 series will be the only aircraft operated by the company. We will eliminate the need to cross-train employees. We will also reduce the requirements for parts inventories.
Our state-of-the-art reservations system will save time, allow us to employ fewer reservationists, and save training costs for new reservation personnel. The reservations system is discussed further in the "Technology" section of this plan.
All company literature is yet to be developed. This includes basic corporate identity material as well as advertising executions. First year projections include an expense item for this necessary development work.
Aircraft will be obtained on a "dry lease" basis (without fuel) from one of several aircraft lessors at an approximate cost of $165,000 per month. Puddle Jumpers management has already been in contact with GE Capital Aviation Services. It is expected that GE Capital will have 80 MD 80 and/or MD 81 aircraft available for lease from Swiss Air over the next several years. Lease deposits, requirements and terms are as follows:
Generally, first and last month's lease payments are required in advance. Lease is usually a five-year operating lease and most often qualifies as an expense item to the lessee. Terms of renewal are negotiable and no buy-out provision is included. There may or may not be an additional deposit required by the lessor as a maintenance reserve. Puddle Jumpers management feels that this will not be a requirement but is prepared to make such a deposit if it becomes required to obtain necessary aircraft for operations.
It is expected that up to 80 airplanes will be available over the next two years with an average of 120 days lead time required.
The advantages of utilizing McDonnell-Douglas MD 80 series aircraft, in addition to management's knowledge and prior successful experience with the same aircraft at Private Jet, are outlined in the "Technology" section of this plan.
Our reservations system will be obtained from CMS at a cost of $200,000 for the software license and approximately $1,000 each for 50 reservation stations (including modem and monitor). The advantages of this system are outlined in the "Technology" section of this plan.
Outsourcing of services are as follows:
All regular "A" and "B" maintenance will be performed by Puddle Jumpers personnel at our own leased facilities at each airport served. We will also have tools and parts inventory at each site. Puddle Jumpers management feels that it is both necessary and prudent in today's regulatory environment to perform this regular and routine maintenance "in house". Periodic "C" and "D" overhauls and major maintenance will be outsourced to Aero Corp. in Lake City, Florida. Labor costs are budgeted at $32 per hour. It is common for many carriers in the aviation industry (including some quite large ones) to "sub-out" "C" and "D" scheduled maintenance. Thus, it is not viewed as a competitive or regulatory disadvantage to Puddle Jumpers to do likewise.
Airplane parking services, baggage loading and unloading, and baggage and freight handling services will be outsourced at all airports other than the Anytown hub where these services will be performed by Puddle Jumpers personnel.
All condiments and beverages served on Puddle Jumpers flights will be purchased from in-flight food service providers.
All equipment and systems that will be utilized by Puddle Jumpers have been carefully and diligently evaluated. Management feels that it is an advantage to be starting an airline today vs. using many of the systems that burden even the largest domestic carriers with extra cost due to outmoded technology. The technological advantages to management's choices are outlined below:
The MD-80 series aircraft are both newer and more reliable that the DC 9's used by Value Jet, for example. Many of Value Jet's problems have been caused by using aircraft that often are more than 20 years old. Such aircraft, while they may be cheaply leased, are more expensive to maintain. Or, often are "maintained" on-the-fly with resulting service delays, customer dissatisfaction, and increased associated costs. It is the position of Puddle Jumpers management that the cheapest "over-all" operational costs are achieved by optimized "in air time". This becomes both a reliability and service standard for the operation of our airline. Puddle Jumpers's air travel customers will both feel safe flying Puddle Jumpers and will arrive at their destination on time.
In addition, the utilization of MD-80 series aircraft will avoid additional FAA compliance requirements mandated by the "Aging Fleet Program". These requirements apply to aircraft 20 years older or more. Since most aircraft to be used by Puddle Jumpers were built in the 1982 to 1985 time frame they will not be subject to these mandates during the full initial five year term of their respective leases. Many Value Jet airplanes, by contrast, were built in the early 1970's.
Since these aircraft were built in the 1980's parts are still being manufactured and are readily available. Older aircraft often dictate that parts that are no longer manufactured are "cannibalized" from one aircraft to another or that old parts are "remanufactured" since new ones are non-existent. The safety risks are evident. Puddle Jumpers will be able to maintain an inventory of new replacement parts.
Perhaps most importantly, the MD-80 series aircraft is already "Stage 3" noise compliant. New FAA guidelines mandate that 50% of an airline's fleet meet new noise emission standards by Dec. 31, 1996. Another 25% must qualify by Dec. 31, 1998 and the entire fleet must be in noise standards compliance by Dec. 31, 2000. Several domestic air carriers are already protesting that they can't reasonably meet these standards but the FAA has demonstrated a past history of not bending on similar issues. Puddle Jumpers's fleet will not be effected by these requirements since it will comply as soon as it begins flying. There will be no cost to upgrade or retro-fit required. Again, this fits Puddle Jumpers's philosophy that the cheapest way to maintain aircraft is to adopt a "preventative" overview. All of the cost savings associated with the utilization of this superior aircraft are reflected in management's projections.
Finally, management is well acquainted with all facets of operation of the MD-80 from prior experience at Private Jet. Such experience was completely satisfactory.
The predominate reservations systems in the airline industry today, "Sabre" and "Apollo" are outmoded and obsolete. The major carriers are slow to change because of the huge capital requirement to "roll over" their entire reservations system at one time. Hence, they keep going with the old and outdated.
The CMS reservations system that Puddle Jumpers will use has three main advantages that all contribute to cost savings: 1) Speed, 2) Learning Curve, and 3) Integration. Since today's PC's operate so much faster than earlier versions Puddle Jumpers's reservationists will be able to complete a typical reservation procedure up to 75% faster than industry averages. Most reservations will be completed in two minutes or less (as opposed to the frequent 8 to 10 minutes that almost everyone has experienced from time to time). The system simply searches and retrieves data so much faster. The result is not only higher levels of customer satisfaction but also substantial savings in communications cost to Puddle Jumpers.
Training costs are also reduced exponentially. There is characteristically high turnover among airline reservationists. "Sabre" and "Apollo" take two weeks to learn and master. Puddle Jumpers's use of CMS will enable a basic computer literate employee to learn the system in only one day.
The CMS system also seamlessly integrates with other management information systems used by Puddle Jumpers. It is also designed to operate in a "ticketless" environment, something the other systems have difficulty accomplishing.
Over-all operations will be seamless from area-to-area of Puddle Jumpers's management information systems as a whole. Most systems utilized by the major carriers today were put in place more than 20 years ago. Thus, there is a constant need for each operational area to "talk" or "re-transmit" essential data to one and other. Not only will Puddle Jumpers's information systems operate "seamlessly" but they will also greatly enhance the ability to conform to all FAA compliance requirements. The biggest and toughest compliance issue facing carriers today is "record keeping." It is not enough to comply, but one must be able to PROVE compliance as well as have full and clearly defined and documented internal accountability.
Service will be one-class with all aircraft configured for a seating capacity of 165. Travel will be ticketless. Reservations will be handled predominately by our own reservation system (even though we've budgeted travel agent commissions on 30% of sales). In-flight service will be on a pay-on-demand basis. Paid service will be for alcoholic beverages only. No meals will be served on these short-haul flights. A snack of soft drinks and peanuts will be included in the fare structure. Seating will be open with no reserved seats. No frequent flyer or travel incentives will be offered.