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Why you are losing money when your drone is not in the air…

Illustration Courtesy of Modovolo

At Modovolo, we’ve shamelessly stolen this from the playbook of Southwest Airlines. You see, 40 years ago, Southwest figured out that people pay airlines to fly them places.

Sounds simple – and it is – but it was a fundamental revelation because Southwest then realized that if, for example, a plane could fly to 10 locations in a day instead of 5,  it would be like having two planes in one and Southwest could sell more tickets – and make more money.  

The trick then was to keep the plane in the air as much as possible.

It’s why Southwest developed a playbook for the “10-minute turnaround.” Southwest thought: when the plane pulls into the jetway, let’s get the passengers off the plane, clean the seats and floors, refuel the plane, and re-load the plane with new passengers – all under 10 minutes – then we can get the plane back in the air.  

This meant that the plane was in the air. A lot. Making money.

And because Southwest’s planes are in the air far more than its competitors, Southwest has always been profitable (except for 2020 during Covid) and has always grown its revenues. Its competitors’ planes spend more time on the tarmac and those competitors have spotty records of profitability.

The lesson is that: a plane in the air is making money. And a plane on the tarmac is losing money.

The same lesson applies to drone operations. Your drone needs to be in the air for you to take photographs, do the inspection, spread insecticide, etc. – and just like Southwest, the longer it’s in the air, the more profitable you will be.

You are just like Southwest’s competitors if you have a drone with a short flight time. Your “plane is on the tarmac” and you are losing money.