What I think we'll see in 2006:
- Reduction in flights to smaller cities. Sadly, it's no longer going to be possible for airlines to provide service at such a loss. I think we'll see first a reduction in the number of flights, and then total elimination of service.
- An increase in the add-on fees to the price of a ticket. Advertisements will continue to tout the "low-cost" ticket prices, but when you look at the add-on fees, that low-cost is just not going to materialize.
- More airlines charging for inflight food and beverage. What was once complimentary is no more. Those that haven't eliminated food all together, will start charging for it, and I expect to see more airlines following the example of charging for a Coke.
- More airlines filing for bankruptcy. With so many carriers in bankruptcy already, it's hard to believe that there's room for any more. But there is. And we'll see it.
- At least one airline will not survive the bankruptcy wars. The most likely candidate at this point is Independence Air, but there are others whose hold on solvency is just as tenuous.
- An airline success model will evolve. The successful carrier will be one that provides its employees with a strong compensation/benefit package, charges ticket prices commensurate with what it costs to do business, operates in a strongly ethical manner, and is proud to brag about the way they do business. (OK, so maybe this last one is just a dream!)