Monday, June 6, 2011

Misconceptions about Low Cost Carriers ( LCC )

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about low cost carriers (LCC) going on especially after Singapore Airlines announce that they are setting up a new long haul no frills airline. In fact, the LCC has created a storm in the last few years and the hiring of pilots and cabin crew is far greater than premium airlines.

But to the general public and most of you, the initial perception about LCC are not encouraging. I always have questions such as are they safe to fly since they are low cost? Should I join them? Are their planes well maintained? Will I be viewed as a rejected person or someone who has no standard to join the premium airlines and etc etc.

Let me get this straight. A LCC is at times safer compared to certain premium airlines as they use brand new aircraft which of course save fuel and increase their profits. The money saved is use to offset the lower price they charge to passengers. Air Asia for example, with its Airbus A320 fleet has only an average age of 4.9 years, a pretty young fleet I would say compared to the industry standards.

Pilots, Cabin crew or any other position in LCC has the same professional training as premium airlines and in no way safety is being compromise. Then what is the difference between LCC and premium airlines you may ask? Well, first of all, airlines are there in the first place to make money and profits for its shareholders. There are a few ways how LCC does it such as the elimination of aerobridge and premium class lounge in airports, a single class seating, food on order, no nightstop for crew ( there is if you fly for long haul LCC such as Air Asia X), faster turnaround time and the list goes on and on. Besides,they also generate a lot of revenue through ancillary income.

As you can see from the above, the difference between them is only the business model. I guess it is human nature when we see cheaper things or when the tag line low cost exists, we will automatically perceive the product or service as inferior or unsafe.

Therefore you are definitely not a rejected person when you join a LCC as the company will not compromise to invest in their employees especially on training and safety standards. In fact, it is better to work in a company which is continuously generating profits to keep your career afloat rather than those who are unable to do so thus winding up and you risking your career.

The only drawback I see as a crew flying for a LCC, you might be flying more sectors or when during nightstop in overseas, you will stay in a 3 star hotel. I do not mind it personally as during my layovers, most of the time I am out sightseeing and the only time I am back in the hotel is when I go to sleep. As for the pilots, they get to fly and clock more hours. So there are pros and cons between the two and it is up to whichever you think is best for you and your flying career.

With the announcement of the new Singapore Airlines long haul budget carrier, it will definitely change the misconception among the general public and I am sure you will be very proud to work for a highly respectable airline like SIA even though it is a LCC.

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