Regional aviation is defined by a series of key sector points which, in themselves, define it as a clearly delimited market subsector.
Regional aviation key points:
Regular flight services. A regular flight service is a service that offers flights on a regular daily or weekly basis at a fixed or prearranged interval determined by a regional aviation company.
High quality, small capacity (30 to 100-seater) aircraft. One of the main characteristics of a regional aircraft is its reduced seating capacity, ranging from 30 to 100 seats. Over the past few years, however, there has been a strong increase in 70 to 100-seater aircraft in detriment of 30-seater aircraft. The average seating capacity of most regional company aircraft fleets has during this period gradually increased.
Regional aviation sector aircraft are the result of a range of technological advances wherein the transformation of large turbojet aircraft engines into small turboprop engines has resulted in increased market efficiency and flexibility. Today’s modern, smaller capacity, environmentally-friendly aircraft offer important reductions in noise levels and gas emissions while, at the same time, providing high levels of cabin comfort.
Short and medium-range flights (200-500 km). The regional aviation sector provides a variety of short and medium-range flight services. In countries with a stronger sectorial growth, however, the medium-range average has progressively increased. This is the case of countries such as France and Germany whose average flight range is now 450 and 500 km. respectively.
Low and medium air traffic density. The regional aviation sector generally operates low and medium air traffic density flight routes transporting 10,000 to 100,000 passengers per year.
Increased flight times and frequencies. The regional aviation sector offers a wider range of flight times and frequencies, scheduling daily flights that allow passengers, when and wherever possible, to plan a same day round trip saving them both time and money.
Conventional long-range (more than 100-seater) aircraft compatibility. Regional aviation sector operators, when sharing flight routes with larger airlines, are able to provide compatible low air traffic density flights. It is, therefore, common for regional aviation companies to establish agreements on long-range shared flight routes for the purpose of avoiding, amongst other things, overlapping flight services. These types of agreements benefit both passengers and aviation companies.
Larger airline network support. The regional aviation sector supports larger airlines by:-
· Operating flight routes that larger airlines cannot operate due to the lack of smaller regional aircraft.
· Covering low passenger demand slots on medium air traffic density flight routes.
The majority of larger airlines have, due to strong market demand, either signed a collaboration agreement with an independent regional aviation company or created a filial regional aviation company of their own.
Setting up flight operations in major airports is fundamental since one of the main purposes of the regional aviation sector, as has been established previously, is to provide support for larger airlines by transporting passengers from smaller airports, where conventional airline operations are impracticable, to the hub airports of cities such as Madrid, London, Frankfurt or Paris, increasing flight services and air traffic.
Permits transversal flight connections. This key point is linked to the previous point since one of the objects of regional aviation is to cover the gaps left by larger commercial airlines operating in major airports by providing flight services between medium and low density cities.
Business passengers. The majority of regional aviation companies target the business passenger sector since business passengers are, due to their particular needs, well experienced in the advantages of regional aviation.