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So you've just launched your new airline. You have a starter loan, and one gate at your HQ airport. Now what?
— Deciding on Routes —
The first thing you need to decide is what routes you want to fly. It is recommended to start with just a few routes so you don't get overwhelmed. Routes can be configured however you like. Hub-and-Spoke style or Point-to-Point style route setups will both work. Take a look at the World Map to discover nearby airports, and research them on the route research page to understand what the demand and potential profit will be. Both the World Map and the Route Research functions can be found under the Research tab in the main menu.
— Leasing Gates —
You will need to lease a gate at each airport you want to fly to. In order to lease a gate, go to Manage Airline --> Gates --> Lease Gates in the main menu. You will probably want to lease a dedicated gate. Shared gates are useful for gates that you use less frequently. Longer lease terms will give you a discount on the weekly lease, however if you need to cancel the lease later, the cancellation fee will also be higher.
— Obtaining Aircraft —
Leasing New Aircraft:
Your first five leases will be delivered instantly. After that, you will need to wait for the aircraft to be built before they are delivered to your airline. This can take anywhere from several days to several weeks depending on the size of the aircraft. Larger aircraft take longer to build.
Purchasing New Aircraft:
Unlike leasing, your first five aircraft purchases are not instantly delivered. If you order new aircraft you will have to wait for them to roll off the production line before having access to them. This makes ordering new aircraft an unpopular choice for airlines just starting out.
Purchasing Used Aircraft:
Used aircraft are available to purchase on the used aircraft market. Used aircraft are generated by the system as well as posted for sale by other airlines. Used aircraft can be exceptionally cheap, but watch out for expensive maintenance and fuel costs.
Regardless of which aircraft(s) you choose to start off with, take care to ensure your chosen aircraft is a good fit for the routes you want to fly. Choose an aircraft with a similar capacity to the demand of the route. Also, make sure the range and minimum runway requirements of the aircraft are within the limits of the airports at which it will operate out of.
— Flying Routes —
Once you have some gates and an aircraft or two, you are ready to start scheduling flights! There are a few important things to consider before configuring your first route. Take care when scheduling the departure (and thus arrival) times of your flights. Passengers do not like arriving or departing during the middle of the night. Therefore, any flight that lands or departs between the hours of 01:00 and 05:00 will suffer a loss of demand due to the extreme hours. Secondly, the total flight time of any route can not exceed 48 hours.
In order to create a new route, go to Manage Airline --> Routes --> Create Route. Choose a local departure time for the route, and enter the IATA code of the departure airport. Add more stops by clicking the green "Add Stop" button. For each stop, enter the IATA code of the airport you want to stop at. You can create stops at any airport, but the route will not fly unless you have a gate at each stop. If you add too many stops, you can remove them by clickling the red minus button next to the stop. Finally, choose what days of the week you want the route to fly. For beginners it is recommended that you leave the route to fly on all 7 days of the week.
After you create a route, you will be launched into the edit route page. Select an aircraft to fly the route, and you will notice that the route configuration now appears, with customized departure and arrival times already in place for the selected aircraft. Different aircraft types have different speeds and turnaround requirements, so if you choose another aircraft you may notice the times change a bit. If you like, you can enter custom departure times, but make sure to go back after you have saved the route to double-check that there are no errors. If a flight has a conflict with another flight on the route, that flight will not be scheduled, and then your route will not be flown in its entirety. Once you are satisfied, click the save route button, and then once you are on the route overview page, click the blue slider to the right of the route to activate it. Routes that are not activated will not be flown. The game schedules routes once every day at 06:00 UTC, however when you activate a route those flights will be scheduled instantly for the next available departure time.
— More Information —
For more detailed information and information about other features of the game, make sure to take a look at the Complete Game Guide.