Budget Airlines: Turbulent times for no-frills flying? "Roundtable"

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Two budget airlines in Europe stopped flying in 2017; two went bankrupt in 2018. Whenever an airline collapses, many people lose money; many lose their jobs and many travel plans are disrupted. Lots more airlines collapsed after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the probably the most severe crisis ever faced by the civil aviation industry. This discussion took place before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rise of budget airlines made holiday dreams more affordable. But are no-frills flights on the descent - not literally, but financially? Roundtable asks if low-cost flights are on the way out as more and more airlines struggle to stay aloft. Joining us at the Roundtable is Professor Greg Bamber, co-author of "Up in the Air"* and Director, International Consortium for Research in Employment & Work (iCREW), Monash Business School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Keith Mason, Air Transport Management Professor at Cranfield University; Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, Founder of Firnas Airways; and Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez, Civil Aviation Section Secretary at the International Transport Workers Federation.


* "Up in the Air: How Airlines Can Improve Performance by Engaging Their Employees," Greg J. Bamber, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Thomas A. Kochan And Andrew Von, Nordenflycht : www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/9780801447471/up-in-the-air/#bookTabs=1


"And you thought the passengers were mad. Airline employees are fed up, too-with pay cuts, increased workloads and management's miserly ways, which leave workers to explain to often-enraged passengers why flying has become such a miserable experience." "New York Times," December 22, 2007.


When both an industry's workers and its customers report high and rising frustration with the way they are being treated, something is fundamentally wrong. In response to these conditions, many of the world's airlines have made ever-deeper cuts in services and their workforces. Is it too much to expect airlines, or any other enterprise, to provide a fair return to investors, high-quality reliable service to their customers, and good jobs for their employees? Measured against these three expectations, the airline industry is failing. In the first five years of the twenty-first century alone, U.S. airlines lost a total of $30 billion while shedding 100,000 jobs, forcing the remaining workers to give up more than $15 billion in wages and benefits. Combined with plummeting employee morale, shortages of air traffic controllers, and increased congestion and flight delays, a total collapse of the industry may be coming. Is this state of affairs inevitable? Or is it possible to design a more sustainable, less volatile industry that better balances the objectives of customers, investors, employees, and the wider society? Does deregulation imply total abrogation of government's responsibility to oversee an industry showing the clear signs of deterioration and increasing risk of a pending crisis?


Greg J. Bamber, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Thomas A. Kochan, and Andrew von Nordenflycht explore such questions in a well-informed and engaging way, using a mix of quantitative evidence and qualitative studies of airlines from North America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. "Up in the Air" provides clear and realistic strategies for achieving a better, more equitable balance among the interests of customers, employees, and shareholders.


Specifically, the authors recommend that firms learn from the innovations of companies like Southwest and the former Continental Airlines to build a positive workplace culture that fosters coordination and commitment to high-quality service, labor relations policies that avoid long drawn-out conflicts in negotiating new agreements, and business strategies that can sustain investor, employee, and customer support through the ups and downs of business cycles.


"Roundtable" is a TV discussion programme with an edge. Broadcast from London and presented by David Foster, it's about bringing people to the table, listening to every opinion, and analysing every point of view. From fierce debate to reflective thinking, Roundtable discussions offer a different perspective on the issues that matter to you. Watch it every weekday at 15:30 GMT on TRT World.

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Period8 Nov 2018

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleBudget Airlines: Turbulent times for no-frills flying? "Roundtable"
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletTurkish Radio & Television Corp.
    Media typeTelevision
    Producer/AuthorDavid Foster
    PersonsGreg Bamber


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