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SimAirline.net - Message Boards • View topic - Why Expansion Will End

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 Post subject: Why Expansion Will End
PostPosted: 31 Jul 2005, 03:37 
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A large number of pilots seem to think that SimAirline.net is on a plan of virtual airline expansion beyond what we've announced for 2006. This is not the case for a number of reasons, which I will discuss here.

History of and Reasons for Expansion
2000-2003: Before SimAirline.net began, there were three "sister virtual airlines": Continental-Northwest Virtual Airlines, Swissair-Sabena Virtual Airlines, and Virgin International Airways. The first two eventually split apart. The airlines had a single management and a single roster. Overall operations were much the same as they are today, but without an overarching brand name. Expansion occurred for several reasons, all market-driven:
-member desires and suggestions
-no VA open based on a particular airline (e.g. ANA)
-no VA open that offered the same degree of freedom (e.g. Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian, KLM)
-a highly popular airline that could have another option online (e.g. Alaska, Delta, KLM)
-a new innovation in VA scope (e.g. Concorde)
-a revival of a previously closed VA with the same management (e.g. Midway)
Expansion was entirely on an ad hoc basis, with management alone determining with what and when to expand. A rough expansion policy was defined in 2003 as the following:
Quote:
a virtual airline must meet all four of the following conditions in order to be added:
-The airline is of interest and favor to our main management.
-The airline is well-known internationally.
-Schedules, fleet information, etc. are easily accessible.
-The airline does not have a significant history of ordering virtual airlines to close.

2004: By the end of 2003, SimAirline.net was well-established and operated twelve different virtual airlines. Internal and external pressure for more virtual airlines only increased as more were opened, so it was necessary to rationalize growth prospects with a long-term plan, and to limit our growth rate so as not to overextend ourselves. The result was the most important part of the 2004 Operations Plan. The first part of the section added on to the 2003 expansion policy:
Quote:
Why must all four of these conditions be true?
-Inevitably, one will not put as much effort into a project that they are not interested in.
-There is little point in adding airlines that are not well-known, as they will not result in as much activity.
-A virtual airline can not exist without this essential information.
-We have had our once-premier virtual airline, Virtual US Airways, shut down in the past. There is little point in creating a virtual airline if it has a higher probability of being shut down.

But, in order to add a new virtual airline, we will need the proper support for our existing virtual airlines. Every month in 2004 that each of the following occurs, we will begin work on a new virtual airline:
-Every management position filled effectively.
-Flight Hours: 4500 for January, to increase by 100 hours each month.
-Retention: at least 75%.
-No more than a 1:10 ratio of incorrect PIREPs to accepted PIREPs.
-Every virtual airline has at least 15 PIREPs, to increase by 5 every three months. (This will not apply to virtual airlines added that month.)

Why did we choose these categories?
-We need our existing management to be filled and working properly to support our existing virtual airlines. We can't expand properly if we can't support what we already have.
-Pilot activity must remain at consistently high levels.
-Pilots need to remain with SimAirline.net to provide a level of continuity. Many pilots are removed from the roster one month and return the next, wasting their time and management's, time that could otherwise be spent improving our existing services or adding new virtual airlines.
-Pilots need to focus on filing correct and error-free PIREPs. The time spent by management returning PIREPs could be used instead to fulfill other goals and provide better services. The time spent by you refiling PIREPs could be used to fly additional flights.
-Our virtual airlines need to be balanced and well-supported by our pilots.

Air Canada, Air Tahiti Nui, Alitalia, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Emirates, Korean Air, South African Airways

How did we select these airlines? There is at least one from every region of the world, and many have existing agreements with our current virtual airlines, which would provide you with more complementary flight choices.

Furthermore, nearly all of these airlines were major global airlines, offering vast new options to our members and a fast growth track for SimAirline.net. Expansion in 2004 was determined by the airline's size so as to provide incentives all year long to reach the monthly goals.

2005: Following 2004's successful expansion and SimAirline.net nearing maturity, we shifted focus from adding airlines with a global reach and looked at options that tended to complement and add variety to our group of twenty virtual airlines: Air Berlin, AOM French Airlines, Icelandair, Pan American World Airways, Thai Airways International, Varig Brasil Airlines. As in 2004, size determined expansion order.

Virtual airline expansion was only part 3 of the 2005 Operations Plan. Part 1 was:
Quote:
1. Firmly Establish Identity and Goals
At this time, we don't have anything beyond "Virtual Airlines of Choice" expressing who we are and where we are going, which are essential for any organizational direction and improvement. We must establish what ideas we wish to represent as a virtual airline before we can properly determine if individual elements of our operations reflect our long-term strategy.

A set of goals was soon adopted and finalized, the first of which part is:
Quote:
-To offer pilots service to worldwide destinations with a wide variety of aircraft and flights to choose from

This statement has serious effects on expansion: this goal confirmed our growing certainty that we did not want virtual airlines with greatly overlapping route networks, since these would not create much new value as far as flight options.

2006: This is intended to be the final year of expansion, with four virtual airlines to give SimAirline.net a total of thirty. This was eventually expanded to six, as we identified five regions that we felt were critical to offer service in (with two virtual airlines covering China, but in very different ways). The virtual airlines are Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Cathay Pacific Airways/Dragonair, China Southern Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Jet Airways.

In 2006, size will not determine expansion order because of perceived popularity differences between them. Unlike in 2004 and 2005, the airline's popularity does not appear to be proportional to its popularity. In addition, other factors are affecting the pending decision on expansion order.

Why 2006 Will be the End of Expansion
First, think about what SimAirline.net will offer by the end of 2006: the ability to fly for thirty-two virtual airlines. That's thirty-two times as many options as nearly every other virtual airline organization offers.

We have decided that expansion should end for several reasons:
-Service Quality: Our management team is currently very stretched out as it is, with some management holding as many as five different positions and managing three different virtual airlines. There are only a limited number of people with the strong abilities that SimAirline.net requires, and we do not wish to offer inconsistent levels of service across our organization. The consistency we do offer is what has helped drive our success.
-Variety: After our final expansion, we will have outstanding worldwide coverage. Any further expansion would likely be in areas where we already have an appropriate level of options. Furthermore, we do not wish to become a bland group of every possible airline. Should that happen, SimAirline.net would cease to be unique in its variety.
-Market Saturation: There is very little room for more virtual airlines, and the popularity we've created for many of our smaller virtual airlines is often induced. In many cases, members fly those airlines because they have joined for a larger airline we offer. Furthermore, we have observed a slowdown in the number of virtual airline pilots, a trend we expect to continue.
-Personal Time: SimAirline.net is a major time investment, and I am unable to commit much more than I currently do. As you may know, I have not flown a virtual airline flight in nearly two years because I have had to spend my time managing instead.
-Personal Interest: There are not really any other virtual airlines I would like to see as part of SimAirline.net that we will be able to add. As noted earlier, "one will not put as much effort into a project that they are not interested in."

I welcome your feedback on this important topic.

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Last edited by Aaron Robinson on 09 Sep 2006, 13:16, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 31 Jul 2005, 04:55 
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Excellant points. I'm just afraid that people will get bored being that we will no longer be adding more....

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 31 Jul 2005, 05:26 
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I disagree, 32 airlines is plenty. If you flew 1 airline a week, it would take nearly 3/4ths of a year to fly our entire organization. Any more than that would be overwhelming.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 31 Jul 2005, 06:19 
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We're at #22, and have 10 more airlines to cap expansion.

Here's my thoughts:

First, 32 airlines is alot to offer in terms of destinations and aircraft. If we could make a map of all the destinations and their routes that they fly, you'll see the coverage that 32 airlines can do.

Second, being innovative is what makes SimAirline.net so appealing for first-time and veteran VA pilots. There is no rank system that restricts you to a single type of aircraft, and there are no hubs to restrict where you can fly. In addition, an open roster system allows you to fly for any airline! There have been various VA concepts thrown at us here at SimAirline.net: Washington Virtual Airports and Concorde. Where at one time we may have been afraid to open a VA for fears that their real-life counterparts could shut it down, Cathay Pacific Airlines and DragonAir will come to SimAirline.net in 2006.

Third, expansion to the last 10 VA's is an incentive based on reaching the monthly goals. Airlines will not be added if pilots don't fly, and if management doesn't do their job. For those who have 0:00 on their flight time simply needs 1 flight to bring our retention up and add to the Hours/Active Pilot to 18:00+. Every flight that a pilot takes brings SimAirline.Net closer to its goal. Simply speaking--everyone has a part to make it happen.

Good luck!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 31 Jul 2005, 19:47 
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Quote:
I disagree, 32 airlines is plenty. If you flew 1 airline a week, it would take nearly 3/4ths of a year to fly our entire organization. Any more than that would be overwhelming.


But without change people will become bored. The excitement of new airlines is a major factor that keeps this place going in my opinion.

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PostPosted: 31 Jul 2005, 23:45 
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Just to add, as we may be looking at it from now and not then after we have completed all of the expansion, I think it will be better, because everyone of most of the pilots in this VA, will have found the airlines that they will want to fly, and we are still probably going to add some airlines correct me if I may be wrong? such as Air Tanzania, Virgin America and those.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 01 Aug 2005, 00:24 
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The Air Tanzania and SriLankan additions to South African and Emirates, respectively, are currently under review.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 01 Aug 2005, 00:26 
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Guys, I've been flying Swissair for 3 years now and enjoying it. Ocassionally I'd fly for other airlines, just because I have the chance to, and it's always good to keep exploring.

Someone I know here at SimAirline.net doesn't fly a single flight again and has been with us for over a year now and still A LOT of routes haven't been flown.

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PostPosted: 01 Aug 2005, 15:51 
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32 is plenty... I agree with Ali, as I only fly regularly for Alaska, as well as some other American VA's.


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PostPosted: 01 Aug 2005, 16:53 
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I have flown for most of the airlines that we have so far, and have seen most of the world from the virtual skies, with the exception of Africa, Asia, Australasia, and South America. However, that is because of how I choose my flights, not because we lack coverage there. I look forward to having a few more options available to me when I am planning a flight.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 01 Aug 2005, 19:52 
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Quote:
But without change people will become bored. The excitement of new airlines is a major factor that keeps this place going in my opinion.


I disagree. Seeing as BA is a newer airline it's perfectly understandable that I fly mostly for BA these days, but I still put in flights for our other airlines and in my year here I have only touched the surface of what our Airlines have to offer.

In my opinion 32 is enough. It's 31 more than most VAs offer.

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PostPosted: 01 Aug 2005, 21:06 
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I agree with Amy, there's so many different flight available, I think it would take a long time to get bored of them, at least for me.

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PostPosted: 01 Aug 2005, 22:14 
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I'm not saying that overnight our member count will drop, I'm trying to look at the long run. 1, 2, 3 years....

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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2005, 00:38 
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Ever heard of the Law of Diminishing Returns? For every additional input, you will have marginally less output. For every additional VA, we have marginally fewer pilots.

The fundamental strategy in matching supply with demand is to match the marginal cost with the marginal revenue -- in our case, we have determined that the proper number is around 32.

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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2005, 01:44 
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I find that very hard to believe in our case. For a true company yes, that makes sense but we are not a true company. I guess the only real way to tell is to let time pass :D

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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2005, 03:55 
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I'm troubled that you don't offer much belief in my projections. As I mentioned above, "we have observed a slowdown in the number of virtual airline pilots, a trend we expect to continue." We do not like spreading our pilots thinner among the choices we have, but it's something that has definitely been occurring.

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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2005, 04:56 
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My faith in your decision making has not diminished at all Aaron, I was just voicing my concerns. Hey I'm wrong most of the time anyway.... :D

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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2005, 16:28 
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In my opinion, the reason why people are not joining VA's ;like they used to is the constant hassle (if you can call it that). cause major VA's want a pilot ranking system, so you have to fly a certain number of hours, pass various tests and exams, and work with vatsim and reated programs. Simairline is ice because of the freedom it allows. no ranks, no programs. the only pressures Simairline.net gives us is 1 flight a month. better than some of the others out there.

thats my 2 cents on the idea. i prefer Simairline.net over another (unnamed) VA that i left.

:)Ramos

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PostPosted: 05 Aug 2005, 18:32 
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Another issue I forgot to mention is timetable updates. As you probably know, I do not give SimAirline.net responsibilities unless I expect the results to be better. This applies especially to timetables, one of the most critical pieces. The timetables (excluding Discontinued Flights) I will need to update for October's change to the winter timetables are as follows: Air Berlin, Air Tahiti Nui, AOM, Concorde, Copa, Emirates, Hawaiian, Icelandair, Sabena, South African, Swissair, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Blue, Virgin Express, and Virgin Nigeria.

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PostPosted: 12 Aug 2005, 02:32 
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jumpshot724 wrote:
Excellant points. I'm just afraid that people will get bored being that we will no longer be adding more....

well, we can't really have any more unless the current management is extremely stretched or else half of the members will be management, either way is not good... I'm probably more free-roaming than many of the people who have posted so far; I tend to pick a random location and fly there, choosing the airline based on the stopovers and fleet used. Most of the time, I stay in Europe and North America, but sometimes I like to do a little 'fling' to a different part of the world and that's where airlines like Emirates, South African, Korean (and Aeroflot when that starts up) come into play. I can understand maybe that you want to fly to a particular city that none of our airlines fly to because it's out of the way/ airport's kinda small, etc. With cases like that, I would suggest that you just fly to a nearby city, and then do your own GA adventure to the final destination. I sometimes do this because I like the Flying Cloud, MN airport but you can't fly commercially there, so I take a 717 over from MSP just for fun. You can do flights outside of the VA if it's your hearts desire to fly there lol :P

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