Hybrid” airlines – Generating value between low-cost and traditional

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Over the last years, the rise of low-cost airlines has determined significant changes in the airline industry and has shaped the evolution of the existing business models. Low-cost airlines started by offering basic services at very low prices; traditional airlines responded by equally cutting costs and reinventing the services offered, with an orientation towards braking down the fare and implementing add-ons, in order to become cost-efficient. As traditional airlines developed strategies to become competitive in this new environment, low-cost airlines started focusing on new ways of enhancing passenger experience and attracting new market segments. As a result, the fragmentation of the market segments addressed by low cost carriers and traditional airlines became less obvious and the characteristics of both business models started to blend at all levels (airline operation, distribution channels, loyalty programs, fleet selection). Thus, this new competition became the foundation of the development of a new „hybrid” carrier, between the low-cost and the traditional models. This article investigates the characteristics of the newly created business model, both from a theoretical perspective and by analysing several case studies. A particular attention will be granted to the evolution of the Romanian carrier Blue Air towards the “hybrid” model. The article focuses on determining the position of the “hybrid” airline in a market with carriers situated along both sides of this business model: lower cost vs. “better” experience and raises the question on how value can be generated in this context. Another aspect tackled is the understanding of the new segmentation of the market, as a consequence of the development of the new business model. In order to achieve this purpose, a survey has been conducted, aiming to mark out the travel preferences of the passengers travelling through the Henri Coandă International Airport.

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