Special issue call for papers
critical perspectives on international business

Low Cost Airlines: antecedents and consequences of pathological leanness

Edited by Christoph Dörrenbächer and Joanne Roberts


About the special issue

Hardly anything has changed recent air travel as much as the advent of low cost airlines. Spurred by market deregulation in the US and later in Europe, airlines focusing on cost leadership strategies have conquered the market for short haul flights. In Europe one decade after deregulation 24% of all passenger flights were low cost flights (DLR, 2011: 8,15). While most of these flights were carried out by low cost airlines, legacy carriers also increasingly contribute to the segment, indicating the strong influence of the low cost business model in the industry.

Guided by the principle that ‘there is no such thing as a free meal’ low cost airlines squeeze costs by offering a restricted service without any frills and connections. More than this, cost cutting is at the centre of managerial attention and relates to anything that is involved in flying people from A to B (Alamdari and Fagan, 2005; Pate and Beaumont, 2006)

Cutting cost also shapes the internationalization of low cost airlines. They often display a home-region orientation (i.e. solely serving countries within a macro-region such as Europe) as their cost driven business model works best with short haul flights that are quickly turned around. Unlike legacy carriers they grow organically across borders by turning secondary airports into bases from which they try to develop the surrounding catchment area. Often such a presence at a foreign location remains provisional with low cost airlines moving away to other regions and countries if the surrounding catchment area do not turn out to provide enough demand or is fished dry. The systemically strong cross border mobility of low cost airlines is also used to bargain concessions from local authorities, secondary airport operators and trade unions with the aim of ‘bringing offshore conditions ashore’ (Lillie, 2010). This of course does not foreclose that that low cost airlines systematically use their foreign presence to access cheap input factors, most notably labour (cheap labour for cabin crew but also pilots already owning relevant pilot licenses).

While some of the cost cutting measures low cost airlines apply seem obscure (such as the idea of charging passengers to use the toilet in aircrafts or prohibiting crew and pilots from charging their mobile phones on the plane) extant research has shown that many other measures, including those stemming from the international scope and strong cross border mobility of these airlines, have broad societal implication in particular when looking at working conditions, industrial relations, environmental issues, and the business-politics relationship s (e.g. Bamber et al., 2009; Barry and Nienhueser, 2010; Kobrin, 2011; Lillie, 2010).


Central aim of the special issue

The aim of the special issue is to further explore these and other consequences of the growing business activities of low cost airlines. We are interested in conceptual as well as empirical contributions that address one or more of the following issues from a critical perspective.

• Political and institutional antecedents of the emergence of low cost airlines.
• Varieties of low cost airline business models.
• The introduction of low cost flight operations into legacy carriers.
• Working conditions, employee and industrial relations in low cost airlines and legacy carriers’ low cost flight operations.
• Union strategies vis-a-vis low cost airlines and legacy carriers’ low cost flight operations.
• Organizational culture and leadership styles in low cost airlines.
• Environmental issues associated with the low cost airlines’ business model.
• Low cost airlines and transport security.
• Flight relocations, concession bargaining, power and politics in the low cost airline value chain
• Infrastructural and regional economic impact of low cost airlines.
• Social and political impact of the (selective) higher mobility and connectivity facilitated through low cost airlines
• Implications of emerging low cost strategies in the market for long haul flights.

For further details or to discuss possible ideas, prospective authors are encouraged to contact the guest editors: [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask]

Submission Information

All papers will be subjected to double-blind peer review.

Please see the website for submission instructions: Author Guidelines 

Papers will be reviewed in accordance with CPOIB guidelines.

Submission deadline: 31 December 2013
Approximate date of publication: Early 2015


How to submit

Please submit directly to the special issue through ScholarOne Manuscripts. 

If you do not have an author account on the critical perspectives on international business site then you will need to create yourself an account, even if you have an account on a different journal. Please see the instructions below explaining how to register.

 Registering on ScholarOne Manuscripts

To register please follow the instructions below:

Submitting an article

Once Registered go to with your username and password. This will take you through to the Welcome page.

·         (To consult the Author Guidelines for this journal click on the Home Page link in the Resources column).

·         Click on the Author Centre button.

·         Click on the ‘click here to submit a new manuscript’ link which will take you through to the Manuscript Submission page.

·         Complete all fields and browse to upload your article. Please include your structured abstract in your article file.

·         At the 'please select the type of issue' (Details & Comments step) please highlight “Low Cost Airlines: antecedents and consequences of pathological leanness” in the dropdown list

·         You must upload a minimum of 2 files: An anonymous article file (you should upload the title page – with all author contact details - as a separate file) because we operate double blind peer review

·         When all required sections are completed, preview your .PDF proof.

·         Submit your manuscript.

Please contact [log in to unmask] if you require any assistance.

After you have submitted your paper you will receive an email indicating that your paper has been received together with its unique identity number. This means that the Editor, Publisher, and Reviewers will be able to process your paper in addition to you being able to track your paper at each stage of the publishing process.

Prof. Dr. Christoph Dörrenbächer

Professor of Organizational Design and Behavior in International Business
Berlin School of Ecomomics and Law
Badensche Strasse 50/51
D-10825 Berlin
Tel. 0049-30-30877-1491 (university office)
Tel. 0049-491-9992963 (home office)
E-mail: [log in to unmask] 

Editor:'Critical Perspectives on International Business'
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