Market factors favor inauguration of a new airline to meet the demand for additional, higher-quality passenger and cargo service linking Western Europe with the rapidly expanding markets of Southeastern Europe and Turkey, and linking Southeastern European destinations, via Western European hubs, to trans-Atlantic and global destinations.
This new airline will base its business and marketing strategies on achieving high, and profitable, load factors through absorption of unmet demand in three key air-traffic categories: unserved and under-served routes on which high unmet demand currently exists or can be readily developed; serving key niche markets where demand is either unmet or poorly served; and meeting peak traffic demands on certain key regional, seasonal, and variable routes where very high load factors can be predicted despite existing but lower-quality competition, or where competition cannot meet the demand.
In addition, the proposed new airline will be designed around, and operated utilizing, the most up-to-date electronic, informational, and aviation technologies to ensure low operating and marketing costs, maximum efficiency in deployment of its resources, and a high level of customer service and convenience. And it is this final element - dedicating the airline, its staff, and its organization to providing a high level of customer service and convenience, and efficiently meeting the needs, wants, comfort, and safety of the passenger - that will assure the proposed airline's rapid acceptance in the marketplace and its long-term growth and success.
Particularly in the post-09/11/01 environment, experience in Europe has shown that those carriers which can maintain a "mean-and-lean" operation while still meeting the needs and desires of the traveling public, with the right fares, will not only survive, but can prosper.
The six key characteristics leading to the success and profitability of this new carrier will be:
- Provision of high-quality service on routes and in markets that currently are either unserved, poorly served, or under-subscribed by existing carriers, thereby setting both a new trend and a new pace in air service to and within the Southeastern European region.
- Employment of cost-effective, up-to-date regional aircraft that will be sized right for the market and the route, leading to higher load factors, reduced costs, improved efficiency and flexibility, greater passenger comfort and satisfaction, and higher net profits. Outfitting these aircraft with the latest aviation technologies and navigational equipment will help ensure the highest level of reliability, punctuality, safety, and customer satisfaction.
- Utilization of the latest electronic and informational technologies in sales and marketing; reservations, ticketing and check-in; scheduling and resource planning; cargo tracking; and operational oversight. Such techniques as internet marketing, reservations, and sales; electronic ticketing and check-in; online quality control, resource planning, operational oversight, cargo and baggage tracking, and customer service, all will reduce staffing requirements while offering ease-of-use and greatly enhanced access by, and convenience to, the customer.
- Recognition that not everyone is geared for the electronic world, leading the proposed airline to provide a high level of non-electronic service as well, particularly to the many newer, less-experienced travelers - but future loyal customers - found in the region.
- Ensuring a friendly, cooperative, enjoyable, yet highly professional face to the customer.
- Development and implementation of cooperations, associations, and partnerships with other larger, more established, and highly regarded airlines both within and beyond the region to provide an extensive range of connections, through fares, frequent-flyer mileage sharing, and other passenger and client advantages through interline arrangements, code shares, common hubbing, and so forth.
In short, the goal of this new airline is to be known to the passenger and the cargo customer by its proposed motto: "We've got a job to do, and we do it every day - for you!"
Primary financial results anticipated during the first year of operations include:
- Average passenger load factors in the 60-80 percent range, depending on route and season, reached within the first year of flight operations, and increasing thereafter to the 75-90 percent range.
- Revenues approaching [XYZ] million USD within the first six months of flight operations, exceeding [XYZ] million USD by the end of the first year, [XYZ] million USD in the second year of operations, and nearly [XYZ] million USD in the third.
- A gross operating margin of close to [XYZ] percent achieved within the first year of operations, reaching close to double that by the third year, and with steady growth enabling rational expansion of the airline thereafter. Even in the first year of operations, a pre-tax profit of [XYZ] million USD is anticipated. This is applying a very conservative business model, and is achieved on an initial investment of less than [XYZ] million USD, yielding a return on equity of [XYZ] percent. The accompanying chart illustrates the growth and profit potential present.
A key element contributing to the success of this new carrier will be its organizational and management team. Leading this team is Balkan Consortium Holdings USA, Inc. (BalkConsort), a U.S. corporation that is regionally based in Southeast Europe and which knows the region and its business needs. BalkConsort, together with its partner companies and associations throughout the countries of Southeast Europe and beyond, identifies business and profit opportunities and develops projects and strategic partnerships to implement and benefit from them.
As explained in the Company Summary that follows later in this business plan, BalkConsort USA's interest and ownership in the proposed airline will transfer first to a new off-shore holding company, BC Holdings International Ltd, and then to a daughter company registered in a member state of the European Union ("BalkConsort EU"), both of which will be established prior to the airline's start-up. Due to current European Union requirements that E.U. nationals hold the majority interest in an E.U.-flagged carrier, and the importance of an E.U. air operators certificate (AOC) to the new airline's overall business plan, a majority ownership stake in the new airline, either directly or through "BC Holdings EU," must be by E.U. nationals.
Joining the BalkConsort USA/BC Holdings International team are aviation, finance, and marketing experts with long and successful track records, including extensive experience organizing and managing other start-up airlines of both a regional and global scope. This organizational and management team, which is described in greater detail in the section of the business plan dealing with the Management Team, will help reduce the risk and ensure the success of the proposed new carrier.
The proposed airline will have as its primary objectives the following elements:
1. To establish and operate a new regional airline aiming specifically at linking Western Europe with the rapidly expanding markets of Southeastern Europe and Turkey, and linking Southeastern European destinations, via Western European hubs, to trans-Atlantic and global destinations.
2. To provide service and absorb unmet demand in three key traffic categories: unserved and under-served routes on which high demand currently exists or can be developed; serving key niche markets where demand is either unmet or poorly served; and meeting peak traffic demands on certain key regional, seasonal, and variable routes where very high load factors can be predicted despite existing, but lower-quality, competition.
3. To implement an organizational and marketing strategy that will, beginning in the first year of flight operations, achieve average passenger load factors in the 65-85 percent range, depending on route and season, and increasing thereafter to the 75-90 percent range, thereby maximizing revenues and return on investment while minimizing risk.
4. To achieve revenues in excess of [XYZ] million USD per quarter within the first six months of flight operations, and exceeding [XYZ] million USD per quarter, by the end of the first year.
5. To achieve net operating profits in the [XYZ] percent range within the first 12 months of flight operations, an annualized return-on-investment of approximately [XYZ] percent by the end of the second year of operations, and steady growth enabling rational expansion of the airline thereafter.
6. To achieve the projected results starting with three mid-to-large-size regional aircraft, growing to five by the end of the first year of operations, similar to the 99-passenger British Aerospace Avro RJ100 or 85 - 99-seat Avro RJ85 regional jet aircraft, obtained on either a dry-lease or purchase basis; supplementing those aircraft with larger, longer-range passenger aircraft and cargo liners on a charter or wet-lease basis to serve peak-demand and intermittent routes and periods, as well as cargo demands, as called for by the business plan; and incrementally expanding the fleet size and scope on a dry-lease or purchase basis to at least double its initial capacity by the beginning of the third year of operations to accommodate projected passenger and cargo growth in the business plan's out-years.
7. To gear operations, and present a professional, serious, growth-oriented image from the outset, that will set the stage for reasoned, planned expansion, mirroring growth rates projected for the first year of operations, and that will enable the airline to extend its regional scope and, in future years, to transition from its initial regional status into a larger continental and intercontinental carrier.
8. As an element critical to achieving the airline's other key objectives, to identify and develop key interline alliances, cooperations, associations, and partnerships with other larger, more established, and highly regarded airlines both within and beyond the target region that will enable the proposed airline to provide an extensive range of connections, through fares, frequent-flyer mileage sharing, and other passenger and client advantages through interline arrangements, code shares, common hubbing, and so forth.
The proposed new airline's mission, simply stated, is to fill a niche in the growing air-travel and cargo markets linking Western Europe, and points beyond, to Southeastern Europe and Turkey; to achieve high, and profitable, load factors by identifying and serving key routes and city pairs currently unserved, under-served, or poorly served, and where significant unmet demand exists; and to set a new standard for air service and professionalism both within the target market region and beyond.
By utilizing the latest aviation, electronic, and informational technologies, and by designing effective and efficient systems and building in quality control from the outset, we aim to ensure the highest level of service, operations, and safety, all based around the needs, wants, comfort, and convenience of the passenger and the cargo client. This combination of technology, service orientation, and quality oversight will help keep costs at a minimum and maximize profits to the airline and its investors. It also will help build the strong customer satisfaction and excellent reputation that will enable the airline to build solid, and crucially important, interline arrangements necessary to expand its scope and customer attraction in the early stages, and which will lead to continued long-term growth both within the target market area and, looking toward the future, beyond.
In short, this airline wants to be known by its proposed guiding motto: "We've got a job to do, and we do it every day - for you!"
1.3 Keys to Success
In descending order of importance, the five critical keys to success for the proposed new regional airline are:
- Employing an experienced, highly professional management team that combines vision; realism; financial ability; solid knowledge of the aviation business; familiarity with, and belief in, the utilization and benefits of the latest aviation, electronic, and informational technologies; on-the-ground knowledge of the region and markets to be served; realization of the crucial importance of an organization's personnel to its success; and a total familiarity with, and commitment to, the overall mission and goals of the proposed new airline.
- Intelligent, progressive, and aggressive marketing that identifies the airline as a different kind of player, one that is sharper and smarter, and with a higher level of professionalism and operational standard than is the norm in the target region. Concentration on safety, with highly trained, dedicated, and professional personnel, caring for the passenger and the passenger's needs and wants, the advantages offered by advanced technology, and straightforward, understandable, highly competitive tariffs and fare pricing, all will form key pillars of the marketing strategy.
- Identification, through careful market research, of unserved or under-served routes and city pairs in the target market area with sufficient passenger demand to enable high load factors and profitable operations utilizing the category of aircraft envisaged.
- Use of an all-jet fleet of newer, modern, Western-built regional aircraft that offer a high level of comfort, safety, and fuel and operational efficiency and flexibility, which meet all normal aviation standards, and which offer sufficient, but not excessive, passenger and cargo capacity on the envisaged routes.
- Use of advanced electronic and information technology to reduce staffing and other operational costs; expand the potential market base; readily capture sales opportunities; simplify and speed passenger, baggage, and cargo handling; and enhance customer convenience and satisfaction.
Additional important, though less critical, keys to assuring the airline's success include the following:
- Identifying, negotiating, and entering into, in the pre-operational stage and early on, beneficial associations, cooperations, and partnerships with larger, more established, highly regarded carriers both within and beyond the target market region to offer interline arrangements, through fares, frequent-flyer mileage sharing, and convenient hubbing and long-distance onward connections to passengers. Successful execution of this element of the business plan is crucial to the overall success and growth of the airline, and must be kept in mind in the organizational plan and structuring of the airline.
- Establishing a high level of operational oversight and quality control that will ensure that the airline always lives up to its marketing commitments and fulfills the promise of a high level of service, customer satisfaction, convenience, and safety, at a reasonable, highly competitive fare.
- Avoiding the temptation to go head-to-head with established carriers on routes that already are well-served, unless solid evidence exists of additional, significant pent-up demand, or widespread customer dissatisfaction with existing services.
- Maintaining flexibility that enables the airline to always respond and adapt to changing market conditions and opportunities, without being erratic, and employing equipment, scheduling, and staffing on a basis that is sufficient to get the job done properly, efficiently, and at a high rate of return, without "overkill" or fielding costly excess capacity or, conversely, unduly cancelling scheduled flight operations.
- Identifying, developing, and quickly and cost-effectively exploiting opportunities for new markets, new market concepts, and expanded sales potential.
- Supplementing regularly scheduled passenger service with both regularly scheduled and also special cargo services when and where sufficient demand exists, and also with seasonal, peak-period, and other intermittent passenger services on certain key regional, seasonal, and variable routes where very high load factors can be predicted despite existing but lower-quality competition, or where competition cannot meet the demand. Larger, longer-range, or specialized aircraft may be employed on a charter or wet-lease basis to provide these supplemental, but potentially highly profitable, passenger and cargo services.
- Looking to combine the core aviation business with ancillary marketing concepts and activities and ground-based operations that support, supplement, and complement the aviation elements of the business, including such activities as package-, group-, and charter-travel program offerings; value-added sales and customer services, both land- and Internet-based; construction and operation of enhanced passenger-, baggage-, and cargo-handling facilities and services; and other logical business pursuits both within and outside the immediate aviation business.
- Avoiding growth for growth's sake, and instead looking for solid niche-enlargement opportunities that will allow incremental, but always profitable, expansion.