Flight Blog

Jan 15 2010 Eureka! Lines on a Map! BY adminTAGS Midfield Terminal

 

Finally. 

The Internet map sites are starting to show signs of the new terminal and the new roads that go with it!

Pardon my enthusiasm, but this issue has been a sizable headache around here ever since the new terminal opened last May. Web sites such, as Google Maps and MapQuest, have  been giving people bad directions to the airport. They've been sending people to the old terminal. They still are, but now, at least, the sites are showing the new terminal's road system!

The new roads are showing up on Google Earth (but not Google Maps) and on MapQuest. Click on the image to see a blow-up of the Google Earth imagery. I added the gold star; it marks the new terminal location. Now it's a matter of the satellite imagery catching up with the map data, along with the "directions" data. We've been told that the entire catch-up process could take as long as two years...

 

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We received an email from Tim this morning:

 

"I travel 2-3 weeks of each month. The new SGF airport is very nice and I am very glad to see the advantages of a comfortable place to fly in/out of the SGF area. My daughter flies 3-4 times per year to Mexico for school, employment and leisure; I fly 24-30 times per year with work; my wife and I fly 3-4 times for vacation.  I find it very frustrating that flights from XNA (NW Arkansas Regional Airport) are consistently less than from SGF.  I do realize Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, etc. create an advantage with the XNA area, but SGF has a larger metropolitan population than the Fayetteville/Rogers/Bentonville area. XNA offers flights to EWR, CLT, LGA, DTW, MSP and CVG that SGF does not currently offer (some of which have been eliminated in the past 12-18 months).  With these additional destinations, XNA has a greater advantage monetarily and convenience-wise than SGF. What can be done to add these additional destinations/departures from SGF to be more competitive in fares?"

 

Tim, it all boils down to numbers. Let’s begin with population. The most recent population estimate puts the Fayetteville MSA at: 443,000. The most recent population estimate puts the Springfield MSA at: 426,000. And then there’s per capita income—ultimately it’s more important than MSA population. Fayetteville MSA per capita income: $32,400. Springfield MSA per capita income: $30,104. Bottom line: there are more people in the Fayetteville MSA and they have more money to spend.

 

At first blush, the differences between these numbers may seem insignificant. But in the hair-splitting world of airline revenue sheets, they make all the difference. And when you add in the business traveler impact of Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and JB Hunt…well…that’s why XNA has the service it has.

 

As for fares, we don’t hear nearly as much about this as we used to. In fact, a study commissioned in 2008 showed that SGF fares were slightly lower. The data below reflects the first and second quarter of 2008: Of course, this data is two years old. And we’ve never claimed that fares are always lower at SGF. On average, though, we will claim that SGF and XNA fares are roughly equal.

 

There are no magic bullets out there that will bring more service and lower fares to SGF. Ultimately, airport growth is a reflection of the Springfield MSA: as the MSA grows, the airport grows. More people means more demand. More demand means more service. More service means a bigger supply of seats. The greater the supply of seats, the lower the fare.

 

It really is all about numbers.

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The arrival of the new year means time is almost up for Northwest Airlines (NWA). While the airline was bought out by Delta more than a year ago, it’s been pretty tough for the average customer to tell any difference: you can still find a NWA Web site. You still see airplanes and tickets branded with the NWA logo. It’s all about to fade away…

 

In the last week of December the feds gave Delta the ‘green light to finish integrating Delta and NWA operations.’ That’s according to the Detroit Free Press. The paper reports that by the end of the first quarter the NWA web site “will stop accepting reservations and redirect people to Delta Air Lines…The Northwest name will disappear from boarding passes, airport monitors and airplanes."

 

The beginning of the year is always a good time for fare sales. Yesterday United announced a fare sale for both domestic and international destinations. The company press release mentioned:

 

  • Chicago – Denver $91
  • San Francisco – Honolulu $239
  • Los Angeles – Tokyo $350
  • Denver – Los Angeles $91
  • Washington Dulles – Orlando $55
  • Chicago – Paris $369

Hard to say how much the sale will benefit customers flying from Springfield. If you’re inclined to find out, you’d better hurry. The sales ends January 12.

 

Fare sale or not, FareCompare.com reports that on December 30, “15,000 United city-pairs were increased by $6 and $10 roundtrip ($3 and $5 each way). The increase covered the bulk of United’s domestic route system — mainly at the $6 roundtrip level. On New Year’s Eve, the remaining legacy airlines began to match including American, Delta/Northwest, US Airways, Continental and Alaska.”

Our friends at Allegiant Air have been busy. Earlier this week news broke that the airline has purchased 18 more airplanes. Read this insightful blog entry over at BNET. More Allegiant news…a company press release reports Allegiant carried 20 percent more passengers in the fourth quarter than it did in the same quarter of 2008. For the year (2009), Allegiant passenger growth was up 24 percent.

 

Finally, we have more good news to report on our airport’s total passenger numbers. In November we were up five percent compared to the same month last year. This means we’re still the only major airport in the region with positive 2009 growth numbers. We expect the December numbers to be positive too. Check out the numbers at other major airports in the central United States:

 

Airport Period Total Pax Numbers, % up or down
     
Oklahoma City Jan-Nov -9.92%
Tulsa Jan-Oct -12.6%
Wichita Jan-Oct -8%
Kansas City Jan-Nov -9.7%
St. Louis Jan-Nov -11.3%
Northwest Arkansas Jan-Nov -6.1%
Little Rock Jan-Nov -6.42%
Omaha Jan-Nov -3.2%
Des Moines Jan-Nov -8%
Quad Cities Jan-Oct -4%
Louisville Estimated for year -11%
Memphis Jan-Nov -2.10%
Lincoln Jan-Nov -12%

 

Numbers were gathered January 5 from airport Web sites and media reports.

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The federal transportation department told airlines today that they must limit how long customers sit in grounded planes.

 

"Under the new regulations, airlines operating domestic flights will be able only to keep passengers on board for three hours before they must be allowed to disembark a delayed flight. The regulation provides exceptions only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations."

 

Read more in the New York Times.

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"The U.S. and Japan reached a landmark agreement Friday to relax limits on flights between the two countries, opening up the possibility of broader cross-border airline alliances and more options for air travelers." That's the lede this evening in a story from the Associated Press, via the New York Times. Read the entire story here.

 

What does it all mean? Read this flight blog post, from earlier this week, about the battle between American and Delta for control of Japan Airlines. After reading that, consider the fact that Asia, and Southeast Asia, are the fastest growing air markets in the world.

 

Read more about Open Skies agreements.

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