Flight Blog

Jul 26 2010 Airport Master Plan BY sgf-adminTAGS Master Plan


July marked the beginning of a project to update the airport's master plan. What is a master plan?

It's a planning document that looks into the future and tries to predict what will happen at the airport—how many passengers will use the airport ten years from now? In 20 years? What kind of infrastructure improvements will the airport need to make and when? It really boils down to three main questions: 1) what infrastructure improvements will the airport need in the future? 2) When will the improvements be needed? 3) How will the improvements be paid for?

Airport master plans are written by companies that specialize in airport planning. It's their job to write an objective, fact based plan. The firm updating our master plan is Jviation. The total cost of the plan: $707,819.00. The airport pays $35,391.00 of that total, with the rest picked up by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

If that price tag makes your head spin, stand in line. But that's what it costs to bring in the specialized skills required to do airport master planning analysis. And the FAA isn't likely to help pay for future improvements unless there's a plan in place.

Airport master plans are typically reviewed and updated about every 20 years. Our airport’s first master plan was completed in 1967. It was updated in 1977 and 1993.

How is the master plan used? When you get right down to it a master plan helps you stay ahead of the curve. The airport reviews the master plan on a regular basis to see how the plan’s projections compare with reality. Hypothetical example: suppose the plan projects that an additional parking lot will be needed when the airport has one million passengers a year. As time goes on, and as passenger numbers approach one million, the airport will know, with help from the master plan, that it’s time to start building the additional parking lot.

There a couple of things that a master plan isn't. It's not a wish list for future air service There's nothing the airport can do, from an infrastructure point of view, that will entice an airline to fly from Springfield to New York City. Airline service decisions are mainly driven by the population of the metropolitan area, per capita income, demand, and airline economics.

Here's another thing a master plan isn't: it's not a wish list for airport improvements. The plan merely tells you at what point you'll need to make improvements.

During the next 18 months we'll be talking a lot about the master plan...stay tuned.


Jul 23 2010 Remodeling Old Terminal BY sgf-adminTAGS Misc.


The rebirth of the airport's old passenger terminal continues. These photos were taken last week and show the extensive interior renovations made by the travel company Expedia. The Internet travel company leased about two-thirds of the old terminal in February and plans to move in later this year. The remainder of the building is leased to the Missouri National Guard.

In the big photo the camera is looking north. The gift shop was to the immediate left; the ticket counters were along the new sheet rock seen on the left. We're told that Expedia plans to leave most of the old terminal signs (like the one in this photo).

In the smaller photo the camera is looking west. The main screening check point was to the right. The restaurant entrance was to the left.



The federal government's preliminary passenger tally for 2009 is out. It's a 14 page document that shows 2009 enplanement numbers for each of the nation's 538 commercial airports. Enplanements are the number of people getting on an airplane. Example: if an airport had 1000 enplanements in 2009, that means it boarded 1000 passengers. The federal passenger tally shows that of the nation's 150 largest airports, we were ranked number 5 in passenger growth. Here are the top five passenger growth airports:

  1. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, + 52.29%
  2. Fargo International, + 7.68%
  3. White Plains Airport, + 6.68%
  4. St. Pete/Clearwater International,  + 4.76%
  5. Springfield-Branson National Airport. + 4.63%

These numbers are preliminary, but likely won't change much when finalized. It's really tempting to brag about this national ranking, but caution is the better part valor: so far this year our passenger numbers are flat. Take a look at the federal list. It has some really UGLY enplanements numbers for most airports. Here's a sample:

  • Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, - 3.38%
  • Detroit Wayne County, - 10.51%
  • Oakland International, - 17.39%

The negative list goes on and on...it shows in vivid detail the beating the aviation industry took last year. Only one of the nation's top ten airports had positive growth: San Francisco was up 1.77%

Take another look at the top five list. Know what four of those airports have in common? They have service from Allegiant Air (only White Plains doesn't). These numbers are a testament to Allegiant—it's one of the few airlines to grow and make money during the recession. In 2009 Allegiant grew it's Springfield passenger numbers by 41%.


Jun 30 2010 Chicago Headache BY sgf-adminTAGS FAA


The airlines are definitely feeling the impact of the new federal rules concerning tarmac delays:

"Elaborate action plans, high-tech bells and whistles and stockpiles of emergency snack kits that carriers created to comply with a new three-hour tarmac rule have been tested by storms that buffeted the Chicago area this month. The new federal regulation mandates that airlines give passengers the option to get off planes that have sat on the airfield for three hours. More than 500 flights were canceled at O'Hare on June 23, despite the addition almost two years ago of what the Daley administration heralded as a "bad weather runway" on the north airfield to mitigate disruptions to travelers. A downpour on June 18, accompanied by 70 mph winds, left O'Hare's flight schedule in tatters: 221 flights were canceled and 328 departed more than 44 minutes late, according to FlightStats.com."

Read the rest of the story from the Chicago Tribune.


Jun 28 2010 Dueling Channels BY sgf-adminTAGS How the Airport Works


We received this email from Bryan last Friday...

"I recently flew into and out of the Springfield airport.  The terminal looks new and clean, and was very efficient.  However, on the televisions providing information to passengers, FOX News was showing on two.  This makes a very strong partisan statement on the part of the airport.  FOX News is not neutral – it is very offensive to many, especially those who dislike seeing lies and distortions promulgated as “news”.  Just as porn cannot be balanced by showing the BBC, so this intellectual porn – which people may certainly watch in the privacy of their own homes (or closets) – cannot be “balanced” with other news channels.  CNN is an accepted reasonably nonpartisan source of news in most other airports in this country.  If you’re looking for the best possible customer reaction to the very nice airport you’ve constructed, I suggest you dispense with FOX News.  Please let me know your television policy."

Bryan... While we understand your point-of-view concerning Fox News, the airport serves a diverse customer base of all races, religions and beliefs. In short, we serve in a democratic society which tolerates many points-of-view and individual beliefs. We are reminded of this all the time. Here are some recent examples of issues raised by people who use the airport:

  • Playboy and Maxim magazines are obscene and should not be sold in gift stores at the airport.
  • CNN. Is it appropriate for the airport to show such a “biased” news source on the terminal TVs?
  • The art glass in the new terminal. As one person put it, “…why not just take out the grotesque windows and put up a wall with some real, quality art work from local artists?”
  • In the old terminal we had several art objects which have yet to move to the new terminal. They included an abstract, geometric drawing of colored balls, and a metal sculpture in the lobby fountain. Several times a year, on our comment cards, we would find comments objecting to both. The colored balls were typically found to be “meaningless” and/or “suggestive.” Some thought the metal sculpture was a phallic symbol.
  • Fox News. Is it appropriate for the airport to show such a “biased” news source on the terminal TVs?
  • The carpet in the terminal. One fellow disliked the carpet so much he wrote the newspaper claiming that the carpet triggered his vertigo. The newspaper printed it.

There are other issues as well but you get the idea… For several years the issue of the dueling cable news channels was a recurring topic. It settled down when we made sure that each “news” outlet had equal representation. Here’s how that works: the airport has nine TVs in the terminal. Eight are in the gate areas and here’s what they show:

  • Two TVs are tuned to Fox News
  • Two TVs are tuned to CNN
  • Four TVs are tuned to Weather Channel

One TV is pre-security and it’s the orphan child: it’s tuned to Bloomberg financial. There are two TVs in the post-security restaurant but the airport does not own or control them. They are typically tuned to tell-all talk shows or the Andy Griffith Show. So far, no one has raised objection to the Weather Channel.