Flight Blog


The number of people using our airport leaped 17 percent in May, compared to the same month last year. The increase comes after 15 consecutive months of numbers that were negative or flat. It was the tenth busiest month in the airport’s history. To do that, in the middle of a recession, is amazing.


In May of last year 69,368 people used the airport. The May 2009 number: 81,496. Passenger numbers were up despite the fact that the airlines have cut the number of flights in Springfield by eight percent. Springfield’s growth bucks the current national trend, with many airports reporting negative May numbers. There are several things going on here. The number one factor has to be low fares. For the past several months the airlines have been trying to fill the planes by cutting prices. We’ve talked to numerous people who are flying from Springfield to Europe for less that $500 roundtrip. Others have found roundtrip fare to New York City for less than $250…and roundtrip to Seattle for $210.


Other factors that play into the increase likely include the opening of the airport’s new terminal on May 6, along with the airport advertising campaign that led up to the terminal’s grand opening. In April and early May the Springfield media market was saturated with airport advertising and airport media coverage. It's likely that a lot of people decided to check us out and they discovered that they could afford to fly from Springfield.


The economic strength of the Springfield metro area also plays a role. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the Springfield metro unemployment rate dropped 1.4 percent in April, to stand at 7 percent. That compares to a national unemployment rate of 8.6 percent. In short, the Springfield area economy is better off than many regional economies—customers are still spending. The question now:  will our numbers continue to trend up? It might because this up-tick began in March—that’s when we went from double digit negative numbers to down just one percent. Then in April our numbers were flat. Now we’re up 17 percent. That’s three months of upward movement.


Hope and pray that the price of oil starts to go back down...that's a worry right now. If oil prices get much higher, the low fares could go away in a heartbeat...

Jun 11 2009 Delta Poised to Make More Flight Cuts BY sgf-adminTAGS Misc.


Delta Air Line says it expects to cut capacity (meaning seats in the air) more than it had planned.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the airline will cut 2009 capacity by ten percent compared to last year. Delta had said it expected to cut capacity six to eight percent.


Delta cuts have already impacted our airport:  in the past year the airline has discontinued our service to both Detroit and Cincinnati. Read more about the cuts here.

Jun 04 2009 Plane Watching BY sgf-adminTAGS Midfield Terminal


For several years now people have lamented the passing of what was an age-old pastime: watching airplanes at the airport.


What changed was security--particularly after 9-11. As security got tighter it became more and more difficult for the public to see airplanes. That's all changed at our new terminal.


Don't get us wrong...security is still plenty tight! But on both the east and west sides of the new terminal, the public can stand under covered walk-ways and see planes galore. They can see them land and they can see them taxi and park at the terminal.


As each day passes, more and more people show-up to watch. Come on out, the view is good. The photo shows the view from the west side of the new terminal


Earlier this week a letter came to our offices accusing the airport of spending $14-million for a taxi stand. You know, a taxi stand—that place on the street where taxi cabs line up waiting for customers. The writer was furious. We don’t blame them.


There’s just one problem. We’re not building a $14-million taxi stand. It’s a taxiway. You know, a taxiway—one of those paths that connect ramps, terminals and other airport facilities. Airplanes use them to move from one facility to the other. This misunderstanding is understandable. What’s less understandable is what’s going to happen in the next week or two.


The bad information will be repeated and repeated. It will pass from one water fountain to another. Before long it becomes “truth”. Media outlets may pick it up and run with it. It's frustrating—but we digress. Let’s get back to that taxiway.


The airport will receive $14.8 million of federal stimulus money to build a new taxiway that runs parallel to runway 14/32 (click on the airport map to see a bigger version. The new taxiway is designated “whiskey.” The runways are in black. The taxiways and ramps are in gray). It will be 6,000 feet long and 75 feet wide. In order for it to withstand the weight of large jets, it will have concrete that’s 15 inches deep, with a sub-base that’s over a foot deep. That's as thick, or thicker, than new interstate highways.


Why build it? It’s a safety issue. Right now planes leaving the terminal have to cross the mid-point of runway14/32 in order to get to that runway’s northwest end. The taxiway will run parallel to the runway and will eliminate the need for crossing the runway. When you eliminate the need to cross the runway, you greatly reduce the chance of a ground collision between airplanes. We had planned to build the taxiway in a couple of years, but the stimulus money will help us build it much sooner.


That’s the story on the taxiway. Let’s get back to bad information…


The taxi stand story stands a good chance of spreading like wildfire. Why? The writer of the letter copied it to a local radio personality who traffics in innuendo and half-truths.


We live in an age where “information” is abundant, but knowledge is in short supply. Even traditional media outlets fall victim to the endless cycle of parroting bad information. An editorial page editor recently all but admitted to me that "Rose" and "Thorn" reader letters are not fact checked before they're printed in the paper (it was quite a tap dance). His solution, to correcting the factual errors in question, was for the airport to write a letter setting the record straight. In other words, the airport should help stir the pot further by putting more grist in the paper's chatter mill.


Thank you, no.


So that's the story on the taxiway. If you hear on good authority that the airport is building a glorified taxi stand, please set the record straight!


May 26 2009 Passenger Numbers Flatline BY sgf-adminTAGS How the Airport Works


After months of decline, our passenger numbers have flat-lined: in March our total passenger numbers were down one percent over the same month last year. In April we had a zero percent change. In normal times (meaning without a recession) being flat is bad. But these days it’s good. Check out the numbers and you’ll see what I mean:


Total Passenger Numbers:


  • April 2009...............0% change
  • March 2009............-1%
  • February 2009......-15%
  • January 2009........-14%
  • December 2008.......-5%
  • November 2008.....-21%
  • October 2008.........-19%
  • September 2008....-24%
  • August 2008..........-15%
  • July 2008...............-11%
  • June 2008................-9%
  • May 2008...............-16%
  • April 2008..............-13%
  • March 2008..............-1%
  • Feb 2008..................-1%
  • January 2008............7%

So what gives? Is the slide is passenger numbers over? Is the improvement a reflection of a growing economy? The signals are mixed… So far this year enplanements (the number of people getting on an airplane) nation wide are down 11 percent. Airline capacity is down 7 percent nation wide. At the Northwest Arkansas airport April numbers were down 13 percent. Very mixed signals, indeed. Let's look at the April enplanements for the airlines serving Springfield:


  • American: -12%
  • Delta: -23%
  • Northwest: -9%
  • United: -10%
  • Allegiant: 40%

That's right, Allegiant numbers were  up 40 percent in April. It’s likely the main line carrier numbers would have declined even further if they hadn’t been offering fire sales. So, bottom line, our passenger numbers are improving…but Allegiant seems to deserve most of the credit.