Flight Blog

Apr 18 2012 Strange, But True? BY sgf-adminTAGS Airlines, Delta


We've been following for several weeks the back and forth speculation in the business press about Delta Air Lines getting into the oil business...yes, you read right. The oil business.

This week a credible new organization, Reuters, took the story beyond idle gossip and rumor mongering...

"A deal for Delta Air Lines to buy ConocoPhillips' 180,000 barrel per day refinery in Trainer, Pennsylvania could be announced as early as this week, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations. The deal, which could help ease a potential shortfall in fuel in the East Coast this summer, would entail the airline partnering with JP Morgan to help run the idled refinery."

At first blush, the notion of an airline buying an oil refinery may seem like shear folly. Indeed, it may be, but consider the following:

  • The price of fuel is killing the airlines right now. They've raised fares to compensate; they charge for bags; they've reduced the number of flights in the air. Yet, many airlines are expected to report first quarter losses.
  • The cost of fuel is one thing the airlines have little, if any, control over. Wouldn't it be nice to have some control over it?
  • According to Reuters, "Delta spent $12 billion on jet fuel last year, with its average pricing rising by 31 percent to $3.06 a gallon. Last year, the company's aircraft consumed 3.86 billion gallons or just over 250,000 barrels per day of jet fuel."

Would owning a refinery really lower the cost enough to make a difference?

Suppose that owning a refinery lowered the airline's overall fuel cost by just five cents a barrel. Do the math: 250,000 barrels a day, times 365 days a year. That's 91,250,000 total barrels a year. Now multiply that times a nickel. That's a savings of approximately $4.5 million. If Delta makes the purchase, it will be a very interesting experiment.


Apr 12 2012 Allegiant Soon Flying to Hawaii BY sgf-adminTAGS Allegiant


Allegiant says it will begin service from the mainland to Hawaii, beginning in June, from Fresno, CA and Las Vegas. This morning's announcement ends two years of speculation about which mainland cities would get the proverbial prize — Allegiant first announced its intent to fly to Hawaii in March of 2010.

Allegiant president, Andrew Levy, says, "Service to Las Vegas and Fresno reflects a moderate growth plan by our company. With the addition of the four aircraft we have acquisitioned, we plan to expand service to other mainland cities in the future. We anticipate the service will be very popular, especially when customers take advantage of Allegiant's low pricing when bundling their air, hotel and car rental package."

As many of you know, Allegiant provides our airport with non-stop service to Las Vegas. How much would a Springfield - Vegas - Hawaii fare cost, vs. fare from Kansas City to Hawaii? Let the comparison shopping begin!


Mar 19 2012 Turn Off Your Electronic Devices? BY sgf-adminTAGS FAA


Is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ready to decide that an iPad (or almost any other gadget you may have) won't bring a plane down? Nick Bilton, with the New York Times, says maybe... "When I called the F.A.A. last week to pester them about this regulation — citing experts and research that says these devices could not harm a plane — the F.A.A. responded differently than it usually does. Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the F.A.A., said that the agency has decided to take a “fresh look” at the use of personal electronics on planes." Read the rest of the story here.


Mar 13 2012 Big Bird BY sgf-adminTAGS Misc.

It's not everyday that a wide body passenger jet visits our airport, but Monday was one of those days. An Airbus 330-323 dropped in about 4:00 pm, and left soon afterwards. Its precious cargo was a group of soldiers returning home. The photograph shows the airport ground handling crew that worked the flight. Most of them had never worked a plane this big.


The number of people using our airport grew 10% in the first two months of 2012, compared to 2011. 103,752 total passengers used the airport in January and February, up from 94,311 total passengers during the same period in 2011. February passenger numbers alone increased 16%.

All four airlines serving the airport (Allegiant, American, Delta and United) saw an increase in passenger numbers. The increase came despite a big decline in the number of seats the airlines are bringing to the market — the number of available seats was down 21.5% in 2011. Why the cuts in seats? The airlines were cutting costs by shrinking their route systems in response to the recession and high fuel prices.

Many airports across the country saw a decline in available seats  The recent growth numbers in our market may be a sign that Springfield has bottomed out and growth will continue. The airlines seem to agree.  Allegiant added seven flights to its March schedule in Springfield and is now using larger 166-seat MD80 aircraft on its Phoenix and Los Angeles routes.  Delta added a fourth daily flight to Atlanta in February, and United adds a fourth daily Denver flight in April.

What’s driving the growth so far this year? The improvements we’re seeing in the regional economy have a lot to do with it. In December, the Springfield unemployment rate was less than 7%. That’s very good compared to the rest of the country. Employment is a key driver in passenger demand: if more people have a job, more people will fly. Another reason for the growth is probably the airport’s marketing efforts. We’ve made a concerted effort to raise public awareness about what the airport offers: ten non-stop destinations and four airlines, including low-cost airline Allegiant, which, as you blog readers know, often has round trip fares to places like Los Angeles and Florida for less than $200. As more people find fares like that, passenger numbers are bound to grow.