June 2024 Editorial – EPN Consulting Newsletter


This month we are a bit late issuing the EPN Consulting newsletter, same as it has recently happened to flights in Europe. The combination of the Swiss Air Traffic Controllers and the EuroATC problems generated a knock-on effect of delays that reached up to 5 hours.
Plenty of flights in Europe were disrupted and many people ended with having either business meetings or holidays ruined or cancelled.

Before this event, I had another issue in mind and this is the misalignment between the air transport service and ground transport services regarding passengers.

In many European airports there is a regulation that forbids air traffic between 12am and 6am to avoid disturbance to citizens residing close to airports areas. However, recently some companies have began offering first flights at 5:45am when the slots are cheaper.

This analysis regards the London-Dublin connection served by 40+ flights daily from five out of six London airports. To simplify the study I took the London Stansted (STN)Dublin (DUB) route served by Ryanair as this route can count on many flights a day and – usually – cheap tickets.

Usually the first flight from STN to DUB is between 6am-7am and, in case of a 6am departure, passengers need to be at the airport by 4am. The Stansted Express train starts its service from London Liverpool Street station at 4:40am (arriving at STN at 5:39am), therefore it is useless.

Travellers should then take coaches (National Express, for instance) departing at 1:45am or 2:15am which become sold out fast. The travelling time is about 1h45′ and this means people cannot sleep at night. Taxis are not included in this study as they are way too expensive to reach STN and not viable for average travellers.

As a first comment, these timetables shows that for an average 2-hour flight (supposed to arrive at about 8am somewhere in Europe) travellers cannot sleep the night before and consequently taking advantage of the arrival day will be difficult for leisure, impossible for business.

The second comment is some ground transport services are not designed to match the air transport service (e.g train service) and here is the misalignment.

The case of Dublin is similar (coaches or taxis) while no train service is available.

Of course, the situation worsens when delays are in place (strikes, bad weather conditions, etc.)

This analysis also shows that while it is technically possible to commute from London and Dublin in one day, in practice, this is nearly impossible. I have tried it myself a few weeks ago to visit my Dublin office, because I wanted to check its feasibility and this below is the detailed description.

My flight was at 7:50am from STN. I had to get up at 3:45am from Central London, catch the first Elisabeth line train at 5am, one of the first Stansted Express trains at 5:25am, face a long queue at STN security (hopefully I had bought a fast-track ticket, but also this lane was congested) and then finally arrived at the gate on time. While in DUB, I got a Dublin Express coach, then 10 mins walking and arrived in the office at 12:10pm. Coming back to London, I was booked on the flight before last one at 8:05pm but the flight was 100-min late and entered my London home at 1:00am: I stayed awake for over 21 hours, travelled for about 13 hrs to stay just 6 hours in the office. Feasible for one day, but not applicable too often.

It is good to remember, the travel time for the STN-DUB route is 1h20′ with flight time of 55′ each way.

In conclusion, 1) ground transport timetables doesn’t fully match air transport ones; 2) although it seems fast, travelling by air must include several parameters for a complete picture as it is not limited to ticket price and timetable only. This whole topic will be analysed in a future paper.

P.S. This editorial takes into account two capital cities (usually benefitting from better transport services) and, in particular, London that is renowned to have excellent transport links. Could you imagine the difficulty of travelling from/to smaller cities…?

Stefano Mainero
EPN Consulting and EPN Consulting Research & Innovation Founder and CEO

Article written by human beings without any use of AI. EPN Consulting Ltd. copyright 2024