Discounters thrive in a recession, the thinking goes, as people shift their spending down to a lower gear. Delta’s (DAL) flyers, for example, would be more likely to fly Southwest (LUV) or jetBlue (JBLU) the next time they book a trip.
But as it turns out, Southwest (LUV) is doing awful. Its November numbers were far worse than the numbers we noted from Continental:
PlaneBuzz: Southwest Airlines reported its November traffic numbers this morning. Sitting down?
The airline reported that RPMs declined 8.3% on flat ASM figures. That my friends, translates to a load factor of only 63.2%, down from 69.3% for the same period last year. That is a 6.1 point drop in load factor.
Anyone out there still think that demand is holding steady? Raise that hand higher, I can’t see it.
Not good. Especially with Southwest making the bet earlier this year that people would “book away” from other carriers, preferring to fly with “no fees.”
So why isn’t it benefitting from its “book away” strategy? Well, maybe it is, but its core, low-end flyer has stopped flying altogether. Also, people have loyalties to airlines that the frequently book with through familiarity and through rewards schemes. Plus, Southwest flights — once quirky and kind of fun — aren’t much nicer than taking a Greyhound.