As check in the baggage, which requires at

we can see in Figure 1, the busiest routes occur in North America, Europe and
Asia, whereby most flights are domestic flights1. The average distance2 of flights within the
European borders equals to approximately 550 km3. In Asia the average is
far higher with approximately 875 km4 and in United States it
equals almost 2.000 km5. So all in all, we can see
that the average distances vary between the continents, whereby the North
American continent is the most frequent used one6.

gaining a better understanding of all this data, we divided the “delivering”
service into three categories of distance. Thereby, we obtain a more concrete
analysis of the potential threats of substitutes for passengers and goods.

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Destinations up to 400 km

first category analysis the threats of substitutes for destinations up to 400
km7. In this segment, the
threat of substitute is high for passengers as well as it is for good

of the reasons for a high substitute threat is that the airline industry
doesn’t provide services to all bigger cities within a country or continent,
especially in Europe. There are no direct flights for destinations between
major cities8
like Stuttgart and Cologne, Leipzig and Berlin or Milan and Turin.  Therefore, substitutes are needed and the
service is provided by buses, trains and cars. On routes where airplanes operate
directly, another disadvantage appears. Airports are located outside of the
city centre to avoid (reduce) noise complaints or restrictions of the
government9. Thus, it can take up to
one hour to finally arrive in the centre of the city. Therefore, the speed and
duration advantage of travelling from city A to city B becomes less
significant. In comparison, trains (including maglev and bullet trains, which
speed up to 600 km/h10) mostly arrive directly
in the center of the city and provide the same services11 as airlines.
Additionally, there is no need of arriving earlier to check in the baggage,
which requires at least another 30 minutes and safes time12. Another alternative
similar to trains are busses whereby, these depend largely on the traffic
between the two locations. Last but not least, there is always the possibility
to travel by car, which allows a higher flexibility, but mainly doesn’t include
any services13
and in the case of taxis are quite price intense.

a look on the cargo industry, we can say that for smaller distances the service
is mostly provided by trucks or trains, because of the relatively high costs of
air cargo. The biggest advantage is thereby the cost per capacity they can
provide in  Therefore, we can conclude
that the threat of substitute is also high.

Destinations between 400 and 1.000 km

second category with distances up 1.000 km, the threat of substitute is
moderate for customer travellers. The competitors for travellers are still the
same, whereby now the advantages of flying become more significant. As an
example, the duration for a flight between Jinan (China) and Shanghai (China)14 takes by plane approximately
2h, whereby the (bullet) train takes up to 4 hours. In general, we can say that
for distances the bus, normal trains and cars become less comfortable, because
of the amount of time they take to reach their destinations. Nevertheless, a
vast amount of people, especially in countries like China and India still
depend on these opportunities, because taking the plane would be more
expensive. Another competitor, which might arise in the future is the Hyperloop
train. These trains can speed up to 1.150 km/h and would be even faster than
normal plans15,
but right now there are still not developed. Accordingly, to the passengers, the
airplane industry becomes also more important for the cargo industry. So, the
threat of substitute decreases a little bit but is still on a high level. The
reason therefore, is that most goods don’t need to be shipped within one day.
Additionally, on longer distances the shipping by ship becomes more important.

Red or orange colours indicate very frequent routes and blue or green colours
less frequent used routes

2 We
calculated the average of destinations by the top 5 destinations within the

3 (Eurostat,

4 (IATA, 2017)


Measured by the average seat kilometres; (Statista Inc., 2018)

7 We
based this distance on the average domestic flights in Germany to perceive a
general picture for short distances; (Deutsches
Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V. (DLR), 2017)

With a population above 500.000 inhabitants

9 (U.S. Department of Transportation, not dated)

10 (Lo, 2017)

11 Offering
food, drinks, Wi-Fi

12 (Lufthansa, 2018); (Jetstar, 2018)

13 As mentioned above

The distance is approx. 730 km

15 (Field, 2017)