During early 1981 People Express (PX) became one of the ?rst new entries into the deregulated interstate airline industry. PX's entry strategy was to offer a uniform low-price, no frills, high-frequency regionwide service to 13 peripheral mid-Atlantic cities using a hub and spoke system out of Newark, New Jersey. By unbundling all services, adopting quick turnaround times, working longer crew shifts, and convert- ing all ?rst-class and galley space into additional coach-class seats, PX achieved a 31 percent reduction relative to the industry average in direct ?xed costs per ?ight (e.g., crew costs) and a 25 percent reduction in variable costs per seat (e.g., cabin service). Having secured the lowest operating cost structure in the industry, PX set out to attract customers who saw air travel as a commodity and would regularly ?y rather than drive. The prototypical target customer was a manufacturer's trade representative who often needs to travel on short notice, but is seldom on the company expense account.
In essence, People Express created a new segment of the market not previously served by much more expensive and infrequent Mohawk and Allegheny ?ights (the predecessors of US Airways). As a result, inverse intensity rationing of the cheap ca- pacity ensued; that is, the new low-willingness-to-pay customers attracted into the market by PX's discounting quickly secured all of PX's capacity, leaving almost none available to other air travelers. As a result, PX failed to take regular customers away from the higher-priced incumbents. Figure WD.1 displays the strategy game this entry presented to the mid-Atlantic regional airlines. The incumbents had to decide whether to match PX's deeply discounted fares or accommodate PX by maintaining high fares. PX had to decide whether to enter with a large-capacity 120-seat Boeing 737 or a small-capacity 30-seat deHavilland 128.