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ULCCs -- Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit:
the appeal of Point-to-Point — April 2021

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The last cyclical crisis in the aviation industry — the 2008 Global Financial Crisis — paved the way for consolidation in the USA. By the end of 2019 the top four airlines — Southwest, Delta, American and United — between them controlled 78% of the domestic market. But this very consolidation allowed for the entry and growth of the ultra-low cost carrier (ULCC) business models, and in the year before the coronavirus pandemic hit, three such airlines — Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant — had built a combined share of the market of 10%, more than double that of five years earlier.

The low cost airline model, as it spread through Europe and the Far East from the noughties, was primarily based on the KISS principles ("Keep It Simple Stupid") developed by Southwest from the 1970s: direct point-to-point flights, secondary airports, single aircraft type, single fare class. The concept was designed to maximise aircraft and crew scheduling efficiency minimise cost and provide the lowest fares in what is essentially a commodity market.


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