Flight Blog

 

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.


 

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.


 

"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.


 

Have you noticed recent media stories about the battle between American Airlines and Delta Airlines? They're battling for control of Japan Airlines (JAL). That airline is in financial trouble. American and Delta both want controlling financial interest in JAL so they can control its code share agreements. Code shares let different airlines share resources. There are three major code share alliances in the world: oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam. What does all this mean to you? Read on!

 

There’s a school of thought in the airline industry right now that makes an interesting prediction: in the not too distant future you won’t buy a ticket from an airline, you’ll buy it from an airline alliance. Example: instead of buying a ticket on American Airlines, you’ll buy a ticket from the oneworld Alliance, of which American is part. What is an airline alliance? It’s a group of airlines, from around the globe, which share resources—things like operational employees, ticket counters and sales staff. What’s going on here—why might this seismic change take place? Consider what the airlines have faced in this decade:

 

  • September 11, 2001
  • Runaway oil prices
  • Declining and static economies

These challenges have made it difficult for Airlines to sell seats at a price that makes money, yet doesn’t drive away customers. Here are some of the things airlines have done to cope:

 

  • Mergers. Mergers eliminate competition and, theoretically, provide greater efficiencies.
  • Cut jobs: pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics.
  • Cut back or eliminated routes.
  • Analyzed all aspects of their operations: how can they make things more efficient?

Against this backdrop the world is shrinking. 25 percent of all air travel in the United States is directly related to international travel. Or, to put it another way, a quarter of all air travelers in the United States are flying in or out of the country. That’s according to aviation analyst Michael Boyd. Keep in mind that the airline alliances are global. So with international travel increasing, the alliances make even more sense. If a U.S. airline shares resources with a foreign airline, both airlines benefit. Airline customers benefit too:

 

  • Greater airline efficiencies theoretically mean lower cost for customers (we can hope!).
  • Sharing of frequent flyer miles between alliance airlines.
  • International trips easier to plan and schedule.
  • Airline airport lounges shared between alliance airlines.

To learn more about the major alliances visit these web sites:

 


Dec 05 2009 Is The Airport's Flow Reversing? BY sgf-adminTAGS Fares

 

Michael makes interesting comments in response to a posting earlier this week about Allegiant Air, and its motivations for flying to Orlando International Airport (MCO), rather than Orlando-Sanford airport:

 

"...after reading the previous blog regarding the change to MCO. Interestingly enough, they are “not a soft option” as yesterday I was speaking with a friend in LA and he was telling me about an associate who wanted to go to LA from STL, but did not want to pay “$600″ to fly there. In the last month I flew to LAX with Allegiant and was telling him about it. Well he passed this along and his associate is driving to SGF from St. Louis to fly to LAX. I guess the flow of passengers is reversing."

 

Michael points out what we've been noticing for some time: there is reverse flow taking place. It's not huge, but it is happening and it seems to be increasing.

 

Just to be clear on what we're talking about here...

 

For years anywhere between 12 to 30 percent of Springfield's potential airport customers have flown from other airports because fares were cheaper. Now we're getting people driving from St. Louis and Kansas City to Springfield because our fares are lower. And Allegiant's low fares from Springfield aren't the only reason. Delta, United and American also get some of the credit.

 

The example that sticks out in my mind is the couple I met in May at our new terminal's grand opening. They were getting ready to fly from Springfield to Frankfort, Germany. Their roundtrip fare was $475 a piece. They said the roundtrip cost from St. Louis was $700 to $800 a piece.