Flight Blog

September 8, 2014

 

We’ve got an interesting air fare war going on in Springfield . We haven’t seen this sort of thing since before the recession.

 

Here’s what’s going on — bear with me ... this gets complicated!

 

Right now both United and American are matching round trip fares between Springfield and Atlanta for $404.

 

That may not sound like a big deal but here’s the thing: neither of those two airlines fly non-stop from Springfield to Atlanta. They’ll have to fly you from Springfield through Chicago, or Dallas, to get to Atlanta. Delta, on the other hand, does fly non-stop between Springfield and Atlanta.

 

So here’s the deal: United and American are taking dead aim at Delta’s passengers flying non-stop between Springfield and Atlanta.

 

Not to be out done Delta is taking aim at United and American non-stop flights between Springfield and Chicago: Delta is offering round trip fare from Springfield to Chicago for $430. Since Delta doesn’t have non-stop flights from Springfield to Chicago, you’ll have to fly through Atlanta.

 

Now $430 may not strike you as being a bargain fare. But here’s the deal: United often charges over a thousand bucks for the Springfield to Chicago round trip …

 

So yes — we’ve got a fare war on our hands!

 

www.aa.com

 

www.delta.com

 

www.united.com

 

Fair warning: If you go looking for these fares you’ll discover that they’re not available on all flights, and for all dates. Many of the deals will be found for travel in the 4th quarter. So keep on looking and good luck!

Posted in: Airlines, Fares | 0 Comment(s) ››

August 29, 2014

 

The post Labor Day season begins with an event of some note at our airport: a legacy airline will bring big jet service back to Springfield: barring a schedule change Delta will bring a Boeing 717 here Tuesday evening about 7:45.

 

The event is noteworthy because it likely marks the beginning of the end of regional jet service in Springfield.

 

Regional jets (RJs for short) are those little jets that everyone loves to hate. In our market they generally have 50 seats. They’re cramped. They’re stuffy.

 

Airlines started using RJs in the late 1990s and their use grew into the new century. At their peak they flew over 50% of the nation’s air travelers. Now, airlines are getting rid of RJs as fast as they can …

 

Why the change? In a word: economics. Back in the 1990s RJs were cheaper to fly than bigger jets. Today, it’s the other way around. By some estimates most RJs will be grounded within the next five years.

 

That’s the Big Picture overview of RJs. Now, let’s bring it down to the local level …

 

We expect most RJs to leave this market within the next five years (for all the reasons mentioned above). Having said that, it’s possible that RJs’ will exit this market sooner due to strong demand. The number of people using the Springfield airport is up 12 percent over last year. We believe this strong demand is the main reason Delta is bringing the 717 to the market now.

 

The airline currently has five daily Atlanta flights on 50-seat regional jets. On Tuesday a 717 will serve one of those flights. That means four flights a day on 50-seat planes, and one on a 717, which has 110 seats. The addition of a 717 adds more seats per day to Atlanta. That’s important because the 50-seaters are frequently sold-out. More seats per day means fewer customers turned away.

 

All-in-all, the return of bigger jets is to be applauded … but there is a downside.

 

As more regional jets go away we will likely see a decrease in the numbers of daily flights — with bigger jets it takes fewer flights to move the same number of people …

 

Example: today we have seven flights to Dallas on 50-seat RJs (that’s a total of 350 seats). Having that many flights per day gives travelers a lot of flexibility when it comes to trip planning. Let’s suppose the airline replaces those seven flights with big jets that have 150 seats a piece (that’s a total of 450 seats). That’s right — the airline would need just three flights a day to move the same number of people.

 

Bottom line: there’s an upside and a downside to bigger jets: more comfort vs. number of flights. That’s the tradeoff we’ll face in the next few years.

 

Posted in: Airlines, Delta, How the Airport Works | 0 Comment(s) ››

August 21, 2014

The upward passenger trend continues at our airport …

 

In July total passenger numbers were up 10.8%. That’s compared to the same month last year. Year to date our numbers are up 11.9%.

 

These are the best growth numbers we’ve had since before the Great Recession. They reflect not only an improving Southwest Missouri economy, but an improving national economy as well. Airports across the country are benefiting — let’s take a look at five airports roughly comparable to ours …

 

Statistically speaking, there are five airport markets similar to us in terms of population served, personal income, and per capita personal income. Here they are, along with their percentage change in passenger numbers for the period January-June, 2014:

 

AIRPORT CODE CITY

TOTAL PASSENGERS

Jan - June 2014

SOURCE
       
AVL Ashville, NC +12.5% Link
       
SGF Springfield, MO +12.1% Link
       
CRP Corpus Christi, TX +11.6% Link
       
SHV Shreveport, LA +9% Link
       
EUG Eugene, OR +2.89% Link
       
ROA Roanoke, VA -1% Link

 

These increases come after several years of declining, or flat passenger numbers. And as you can see growth is not confined to Springfield — it’s part of a national growth trend this year. The health of the national economy has a lot to do with it, as does the improved financial health of the airlines. But perhaps most importantly, at least in our market, the airlines have noted our pent up demand — we’ve been telling the airlines for several years that more people would fly from Springfield if only there were more seats.

 

Until now, the “give us more seats” argument has been a tough sell. That’s because the airlines have focused relentlessly on cutting the number of seats in the air (fewer seats in the air means less cost). But now the airlines see our pent up demand and they’re responding accordingly.

 

So far this year the number of airline flights in Springfield is up 3.8. And the number of seats in the market is up 6.4 percent. These increases come after years of negative numbers at airports across the country.  And Delta is bringing bigger planes to our airport …

 

Delta currently has five daily Atlanta flights on 50-seat regional jets. Boeing 717s will serve one of those flights beginning September 2.  That means four flights a day on 50-seat planes, and one on a 717, which has 110 seats. Let’s do some basic airline math …

 

We’ll work off just the Monday-Friday flight schedule …

 

The 717 aircraft brings 60 more seats a day to the market. Multiply that by the number of weekdays left in the year (87) and you get at least an additional 5,220 seats coming to our market. Let’s put it another way …

 

In November Delta will have at least 18% more seats flying between Springfield and Atlanta (when compared to the same month last year). That’s a HUGE increase — and one that promises to keep our growth numbers way up through the end of the year.

 

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June 30, 2014

 

This week a small part piece of airport history bites the proverbial dust.

 

When the red brick building comes tumbling down on Wednesday hardly anyone will notice — except, perhaps, a few airport rescue firefighters. Some of them spent many a long shift in that building — it’s the old airport firehouse.

 

Built sometime in the late 1960’s (and added on to in the 70s) it was a huge step up from the old barrel shaped building it replaced. But as with all things in the airport business is soon became functionally obsolete — by the time it was vacated in 2009 the airport’s newest fire truck wouldn’t even fit through the bay doors. For the past five years it’s collected dust, birds, plus a few pieces of old equipment.
 

The lot occupied by the firehouse will soon be part of the airport’s newest expansion. It’s a $5.6 million project that will redevelop and expand the general aviation complex by making 12 acres ready for new airplane hangars. The general aviation complex (GA for short) is that part of the airport which caters to business/corporate aircraft.

 

This fall, when the expansion project is done, the only trace of the firehouse will be an old emergency alarm siren. It’s one of two sirens at the airport. They sound the alarm whenever an aircraft declares an emergency. The old beast (pictured left) came off the firehouse roof last week — it looks like something out of a 1950s civil defense film. Unlike the old firehouse it still works great — just have to figure out a new place to put it ...
 

Posted in: Airports, History, How the Airport Works | 0 Comment(s) ››

June 12, 2014

 

Passenger numbers at the Springfield Airport are up — way up.

 

In May the total number of passengers using the airport was up 15 percent. That’s the best monthly increase since before the Great Recession.

 

For the first five months of the year the number of passengers using the airport was up 11.7 percent —   it’s only the second time since the turn of the century that Springfield has seen a double digit increase during the five month period. The first time was in 2005 when Allegiant and Delta started Springfield service.

 

The increase in passengers is a classic sign of an improving local economy. The airlines see this demand and they’re responding by bringing more seats to the market. Take a look at the numbers:

 

TOTAL AVAILABLE SEATS IN SPRINGFIELD - MAY 2014

 

  • Allegiant Air + 35.9%
  • American Airlines + 11.1%
  • Delta Air Lines + 3%
  • United Airlines + 3.6%

There are two ways for an airline to bring more seats to Springfield. They can bring more flights — those are up nearly 5 percent for the year — or they can bring bigger airplanes. Allegiant has started occasional use of Boeing 757s in Springfield. Delta begins Boeing 717 service here on September 2.

 
717s will serve Delta’s Springfield-Atlanta route. The airline currently has five daily Atlanta flights on 50-seat regional jets. In September a 717 will serve one of those flights. That means four flights a day on 50-seat planes, and one on a 717, which has 110 seats.
 
The addition of a 717 adds more seats per day to Atlanta. That’s important because the 50-seaters are frequently sold-out. More seats per day means fewer customers turned away.
 
Bigger planes are definitely in Springfield’s future — not just due to local demand but because airlines are starting to phase out 50-seat jets; they’re expensive to maintain and they’re not fuel efficient.
 

PERCENT CHANGE TOTAL PASSENGER

NUMBERS JAN - MAY 2014

 

  • January + 9.2%
  • February + 13.1%
  • March + 9.8%
  • April + 11.4%
  • May + 15%
TOTAL PASSENGERS COMPARISON
 
  • May 2013: 65,611 total passengers
  • May 2014: 75,452 total passengers
  • Jan - May 2013: 292,967 total passengers
  • Jan - May 2014: 327,355 total passengers

 

SCHEDULED AIRLINE FLIGHTS

 

  • Jan - May 2013: 3,105
  • Jan - May 2014: 3,253

 

Posted in: Airlines, Airports, How the Airport Works | 0 Comment(s) ››

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