Flight Blog

 

We’re now shooting for a mid-December opening for the new parking areas in the long term parking lot. We’d hoped to have them open this month, but have been delayed by the late arrival of the new light towers. The manufacturer of the towers says we should have delivery in a couple of weeks. After that, they’ll have to be wired and mounted on their bases.

The need for additional parking is the result of the airport’s rapid passenger growth over the past couple of years (up about 11% since 2014).

Growth is good, but it’s been a headache for customers in the parking lots — several times this year we’ve run out of parking places. The short-term remedy has been to allow parking in the aisles and just about any nook and cranny that a car can fit in. We apologize for the inconvenience.

UBER TOO

Earlier this week Uber, the on-demand private car service, received permission to operate in Springfield. The airport and Uber will negotiate an operating agreement in the next few months, but in the short term Uber drivers will be allowed to pick-up customers in front of the airline terminal, at the west end of the front curb. Signs designating the pick-up area should be up by the end of today (Wednesday).

We expect Uber to be available here by the end of the week, perhaps as early as today or tomorrow.

 

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Oct 20 2016 A Refund for Late Bags? BY adminTAGS Airlines

Those of you who fly frequently will likely find this story from the Associated Press of interest. In a nutshell: a new federal proposal would require airlines to "refund fees when checked bags are "substantially delayed."" But wait, there's more — and it's particularly interesting to those of us who work in the airport and airline industry. Check it out:

"One of the new rules would force airlines to report flight delays by all the planes that fly under their banner. Major carriers haven't been including flights operated by their regional airline partners in their performance reports to the government."

Yes, that's right. Every time you hear a media story about flight delays the numbers are WAY under reported. The numbers come from the federal Department of Transportation. The DOT doesn't tell the media that the numbers are under reported, and the media doesn't know any better.

There's at least one major airline that's always bragging about it's on time record. If this proposal becomes a rule, that will have to change!

 

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but our mid-year report card is pretty good!

July 2016 was the busiest month in the history of the Springfield airport — the total passenger count was 98,112. That’s up 4.6% from the previous record month, which was July of last year.

Overall, for the first seven months of this year, total passenger numbers are up 1.6%. If growth continues until the end of the year, 2016 will be the best year in the airport’s history.

Our previous record year was just last year. Setting consecutive records like this is a bit unusual, but not unheard of. And while we hate to overwhelm you with numbers, today’s good news is all about numbers — here’s some more —

Let’s talk airplane fuel sales — July was the best month for fuel sales in ten years: 740,105 gallons.

How about take offs and landings? It sounds silly, but we do count them. It’s a good indicator of how the aviation industry is doing in general. In June the total number of take offs and landings was the best it’s been in five years: 4,830.

In July the total number of scheduled airline flights was up 18% compared to the same month last year. That’s 847 this July vs. 717 last July.

The total number of available airline seats was up 13% in July — we’ve got more numbers, but we’d better stop now  …

So, what’s it all mean? Why should you care?!

The numbers mentioned here are, in a very real sense, economic indicators.  And they tell us that the local economy is doing REALLY well — more people fly when the economy is strong. A good economy affects all of us — for the better.

More people flying also means that airlines pay more attention to us. When they see strong growth in an air market they’re more willing to add non-stop destinations, or bigger airplanes. The proof is in the pudding: all of our airlines (Allegiant, American, Delta and United) are bringing bigger planes to Springfield. In December, American added non-stop service to Charlotte.

So there you have it. Please forgive us for throwing all those numbers around. It’s just that so much of the news we hear these days is bad — we thought it would nice to share some good.

 

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LITHIUM BATTERY CONCERNS
 

Safety concerns over lithium batteries continue to grow. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a safety alert urging cargo and commercial airlines “to conduct a safety risk assessment to manage the risks associated with transporting lithium batteries as cargo.”

 

The problem with lithium batteries is the risk of fire and explosion. Have you heard about the so called “hoverboards” that burst into flames? They have lithium batteries.  As a result, American, Delta, and United have banned hoverboards from all aircraft.

There's conflicting infomation about whether all lithium batteries are a concern, but the larger ones (as measured by "watt hours") seem to be singled out. Check out these shipping guidelines from United Parcel Service.

 

AMERICAN ADDING GATES AT O'HARE

Chicago O’Hare airport (ORD) is the airport a lot people love to hate — perhaps the most common O’Hare complaints: congestion and flight delays.

Those of you who fly to Chicago a lot will be glad to know that American Airlines is adding five additional gates — scheduled for completion by 2018. Read more about it from ch-aviation.

The additional gates are part of a bigger plan that the city of Chicago has to improve things at O'Hare. You'd think that improvements would please everyone ... well ... not everyone, sort of.

 

NO-FRILL FARES

Seasoned air travelers have likely heard about, or noticed, the fare wars going on at some major hub airports between the legacy airlines (American, Delta, and United), and low-cost airlines (mainly Spirit and Frontier).

The low cost guys are waging the war with no frill fares. Here’s how Spirit Airlines defines no frills: “Our fares are fully unbundled. No “free” bag. No “free” drink. Other airlines bake those options right into their ticket price. We don’t. A ticket with us gets you and a personal item from A to B.”

The legacies are now making plans for their own no frills fares — the New York Times offers this analysis of the no frills plans of American, Delta, and United.

 

All this talk about no frill fares sounds interesting enough, but will they eventually make their way down to smaller air markets such as Springfield? We hate to say it, but no.

 

No frill fares will only exist in select large air markets where low cost airlines fly. The current business models of Spirit and Frontier dictate that they serve large markets only. By “large” we mean markets that fly millions of customers a year. The Springfield market generates less than a million customers a year.

 

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AUTUMN IN HAVANA?

 

An agreement approving airline service between the United States and Cuba was signed this morning in Havana.

If all goes as expected U.S. airlines should begin Cuban service this fall. Before the ink on the agreement was dry United Airlines announced its intent to start service between some of its hubs and Havana. Get more details from the Dallas Morning News.

 

AIRFARES LOWEST AVERAGE PRICE SINCE 2010

The federal government’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) says the average round trip domestic fare was $372 in the third quarter of 2015 — that’s down 6.2 percent compared to 2014. That headline sounds great, but there’s a lot more to it. CNN Money covers most of the bases in this story.

While consumer groups, politicians, and some media outlets claim credit for forcing the average base fare down, it probably has more to do with good old-fashioned competition — especially at large hub airports such as Chicago O’Hare, and Dallas/Ft. Worth. BTS data says the average fare at O’Hare was down 19.4%. At Dallas it was down 14.5%.

The competition at those airports is fierce between the ultra-low cost airlines, such as Frontier and Spirit, and the legacy airlines, American, Delta, and United.

Speaking of fares —

The New York Times offers its take on the best way to find cheap flights, well,  … sort of —

Here’s the deal: figuring out the best way to find cheap fare is the holy grail of air travel.  If you’re trying to figure it out, good luck! You wanna know what half the problem is? What’s a “good” fare to one person is a “terrible” fair to someone else. Just what is a good fare? It depends on who you ask.

Our best advice: if you find a “good” fare you’d better buy it quick before it goes away.

You can read the BTS report here.

 

AMERICAN OFFERS REFRESHMENTS DURING DELAYS

American hopes to make long waits a little easier for passengers with a new test program at New York’s JFK Airport that brings free food to delayed customers.” That news comes from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

Whether the airline expands the test to other airports (including small airports like Springfield) seems to be an open question. Interestingly enough, Delta offers refreshments in Springfield to delayed customers and has done so for some time.

The takeaway: this is another sign that the airlines are making efforts to improve customer service.

 

BAN E-CIGS ON PLANES?

 

Should electronic cigarettes be banned from planes? That's a hot topic right now in Congress.

No telling where this congressional argument will go. As USA Today reports, one lawmaker “argued that lawmakers would next try to ban hot air, bad breath and body odor.”

 

 

 

 

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