Flight Blog

Jun 15 2010 Slight of Hand BY adminTAGS Customer Service


The Detroit News reports that some airlines will waive bag fees if you use an airline credit card. There is, of course, a catch: the credit cards have annual fees.

This news comes on the heels of a survey which found, among other things, that "given the opportunity, 68% of respondents said they would fly at an inconvenient time of day with an additional connection in order to avoid fees; 32% said they would bite the bullet and pay the extra money to fly at a convenient time.  62% also said they would forego a carry-on bag in order to avoid a fee." All these fees probably won't go away any time soon. They generate too much income. By some estimates  fees generated over $7 billion last year.

And here's an airline revenue stream you may not have thought about: shopping catalogs. You know, those catalogs in the airplane seat pockets. Last week I flew to San Diego and had a chance to browse one.  This particular catalog featured one of those spiffy upside down garden things for $89.95.  Earlier in the week I saw one at a Springfield Wal-Mart for $15.00.


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May 19 2010 Ozarks Honor Flight III BY adminTAGS Misc.


The Honor Flight departs Springfield as Airport Rescue Firefighters provide a water canon salute. (click any image for a larger version)

Yesterday the Airport was host to the third Ozarks Honor Flight. If you haven't heard about Honor Flight, please read on. Ozarks Honor Flight is a non-profit organization that formed late last year. It has one mission: to transport World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. so they can visit the World War II memorial. If that doesn't sound like a big deal, consider this: the World War II memorial wasn't built and finished until 2004. As a result, most veterans of that war have not seen their memorial. Most will leave us without having had the chance to visit their place of honor. Yesterday Honor Flight flew 75 veterans to Washington, D.C., free of charge. More than 500 Ozark veterans are on a waiting list.  Visit Ozarks Honor Flight for more information.

The Honor Flight returns to Springfield late Wednesday night, More than 300 people showed up to welcome them home.


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May 13 2010 'Runaround in China' BY adminTAGS American


Three years ago American Airlines got permission from China to fly between Beijing and Chicago. The service has been delayed several times, most recently because the Chinese government wanted American to use operating slots in the middle of the night. "Slots" is industry jargon for arrival and departure times. The service is now scheduled to begin May 25 and the slots are no longer in the middle of the night. They're late in the evening: 9:30 pm and 11:59 pm, Beijing time. That's according to the Dallas Morning News.

The bnet blog has a good overview of the situation.

Why does any of this matter to us? Because easy connectivity to Asia is increasingly important for economic development. The American Airlines service between Chicago and Beijing is great for us because it means you can fly from Springfield to Beijing with just one connection, through Chicago. When Asian companies come to the United States, looking for a place to set up shop, this is the sort of connectivity they look for. Another point...

The American Airline slots in Beijing can affect the price we pay to fly there. That's because United Airlines also flies from Springfield to Beijing, via Chicago.  The airline that has the best slots will likely charge the highest fare.


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Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (left) speaks at this mornings news conference. Robert Spence, Chairman of the Airport Board, looks on.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (left) speaks at this morning's news conference. Robert Spence, Chairman of the Airport Board, looks on.

One year ago today the Airport opened its new passenger terminal and closed the old terminal at the west end of Kearney Street. This morning, at a joint news conference, we were pleased to welcome the newest entity to lease space in the old terminal: the Missouri Army and Air National Guard.

The guard will occupy 25,000 square feet in the south end of terminal. As previously announced, the online travel company Expedia will occupy 59,000 square feet in the north end. For all practical purposes, the old terminal is now fully occupied.

The guard lease will initially run through September of 2010. The guard will then have the option of renewing the lease annually through 2015. The total annual lease amount: $158,500.00.

The Expedia lease is initially for five years, with the option of five, 3-year extensions. The total annual lease amount: $450,760.00. Since federal aviation money largely paid for the old terminal, the Federal Aviation Administration had to approve both lease agreements.

The combined airport income from these two leases: $609,260.00.

These leases are very important to the Airport because they generate a revenue stream that is not related to aviation. This is especially important in today’s uncertain economy because the aviation industry is extremely volatile. Non-aviation related revenue helps make up the difference when airline revenue is down. In the big scheme of things, non-aviation related revenue can make it easier for the Airport to keep operating costs down for the airlines.


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May 03 2010 United & Continental Merge BY adminTAGS United


unitedJust over a month ago we were speculating about a possible merger of United and U.S. Airways. Those merger talks were going hot and heavy when the plug suddenly got yanked. The next think you know United is standing at the alter with Continental. Wow...it's the sort of drama that goes on at high school proms!

So what does it mean for our airport? Before diving into that, keep in mind that this marriage must be approved by the federal government. Will a Democratic administration be as receptive to an airline merger as a Republican one (Republicans were in charge when Delta and Northwest merged a couple of years ago)?

Assuming the deal is blessed by the feds, let's look at what the two airlines bring to the table. This discussion will mainly deal with just North American operations:


  • 3,300 flights a day
  • Hubs: Los Angles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Washington Dulles
  • Code share: Star Alliance


  • 2612 flights a day
  • Hubs: Houston Intercontinental, Cleveland, Newark
  • Code share:  Star Alliance

Check out the North American route maps: United and Continental.

The first thing to point out is that both airlines are members of the Star Alliance. So some Springfield customers are already taking Continental via code share with United.

As for hubs, it seems doubtful that there will be much change, except for Cleveland, which could be pared back. The most obvious question concerning Springfield is whether the combined airline will start service between Springfield and Houston? That will depend on at least two things: 1) will the new airline's analysis of Springfield traffic justify the service, and 2) will the new airline want to compete with American for Springfield customers that currently connect through Dallas on their way to smaller Texas cities? That's an oversimplification, but it gives you an idea of the questions the airline will ask.

Bottom line? Barring a huge restructuring of the airline's combined networks, we don't see much change on the horizon.


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