Flight Blog

May 21 2009 Whew! BY sgf-adminTAGS Midfield Terminal

 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of days running together around here—and the move to the new terminal really isn’t over: boxes are still being unpacked, people are still feeling their way around the new environment, and new systems are still being tuned and tweaked. All that said, the dust is settling…and now that my desk is set-up (and cleared-off), it’s time to review the past few months at the airport, and in the industry in general.

 

“Passenger traffic is still falling on nearly all U.S. airlines, but the steep nosedive in March gave way to a more gentle decline in April, raising hopes that the worst of the travel slump may be over.”

 

That’s the lede in a story from the Associated Press last week. It sounds like good news, but the AP goes on to note that industry analysts think the increase in passenger traffic is due to fare sales. Absolutely—airlines are all but giving away some tickets in an effort to sell seats.

 

Don’t believe it? Yesterday, on the reservations page of the airport web site, customers purchased the following:

 

  • Springfield to San Antonio, via Dallas roundtrip, on American. $238.40. Eight months ago I would have expected this trip to cost at least $600—perhaps as high as $1000.
  • Springfield to Dallas, via Memphis, on Northwest, one-way: $95.70.
  • Springfield to Rochester, NY, via Chicago, roundtrip, on American: $330.90.
  • Springfield to Chicago, roundtrip, on American: $216.20.

These prices include taxes and fees.

 

It goes without saying that not all the fares are this low. And I can hear the griping right now from those of you who haven’t found them this low. Want to know one of the secrets of finding them? Purchase early. The fares listed above were purchased at least a month before departure.


May 06 2009 New Terminal Open BY sgf-adminTAGS Midfield Terminal

 

The midfield terminal opened for business this morning. So far, we've had only minor clitches: the ticket spitters in the parking lots (those machines that give you parking stubs) didn't have stubs in them at 4:00 this morning, and the United ticket counter didn't have a sign on it.

 

By six this morning about 50 stray travelers had shown up at the old terminal looking for their plane. Airport police gave them directions and a map to the new terminal.

 

This morning's fog delayed some early departures, but that's par for the course this time of year. More later.


Apr 16 2009 The Good News, The Bad... BY sgf-adminTAGS Northwest

 

Let’s start with good news, then move on to the bad…

 

After six consecutive months of double digit passenger declines, we’re relieved to report that March passengers numbers were down only one percent. This improvement brought our yearly decline from minus 14 percent, to minus nine percent.

 

Why the improvement? I’d like to say it’s the result of an improving economic situation—but I’m not going to be that bold. It has much more to do with Allegiant Airlines and its seasonal addition of more flights. In March, Allegiant numbers were up 55 percent over the same month last year! March numbers for the other airlines were all in negative numbers. Delta led the pack: down 24 percent for the month.

 

The declining passenger numbers do have a bright side: in an attempt to sell more seats, the airlines are cutting the price of fares…and not just fares between major hubs, or hubs and foreign capitals. Example: American is now offering some seats between here and Dallas for $200 or less. A couple of days ago I talked to a Springfield chamber member who tracked down roundtrip fare between here and Dallas for $150. That includes taxes and fees. So good news for customers, but I dare say bad news for the airlines. Today American reported a first quarter loss of $375 million.

 

And now some bad news... We found out on Monday that we’re losing Delta service to Detroit, effective May 1. Delta planners tell me that they had planned to continue the service, but last minute schedule changes effectively left our market without a plane to service the route. The planners say, “they might bring the service back, but we can’t give you a time frame.”

 

It’s probably not a stretch to say this is further fallout from the merger of Delta and Northwest (the Detroit service was on Northwest). On the other hand, we’ve known for some time that this service was on the bubble. There was just one arrival and departure every day; very early in the morning and very late at night. And the high cost of fare didn't help either.

 


Apr 16 2009 Cocktails BY sgf-adminTAGS Midfield Terminal

 

Randy cuts to the chase:

 

"Where’s the booze? Will there be alcohol available in the new terminal????"

 

The bar will be in the gate area, on the secure side of the screening checkpoint!!!!


Apr 15 2009 Tardy Blogger! BY sgf-adminTAGS Midfield Terminal

 

Well, first of all, I have to apologize for taking so long to respond to the last few questions asked by you faithful bloggers. I've been tardy! Only one excuse: busy, busy, busy with the impending opening of the new terminal. You know that part of job descriptions that says, "other duties as assigned?" Well Brothers and Sisters, let me tell ya, I know what that means!

 

Colton blogged with this: "Hello. I am just wondering, I know Allegiant Air will be providing nonstop service to LA, but will there be any other airlines with new destinations when the new Midfield terminal opens? I am wondering because I thought that Continental used to go through SGF. There also used to be nonstop service to Kansas City. What happened to all that? I am just curious. Thanks."

 

We have no impending new service announcements. Hey! Isn't LA good enough?!  ; )

 

As for service to Kansas City... It has been tried several times over the years. But it's never generated enough customers for the airlines to find it worthwhile over the long haul.

 

Dustin wants to know:

 

"I was wondering if the taxiways were completed. They look incomplete especially the corners. Will there be a parallel taxiway to rwy 14-32? The rest of the terminal looks beautiful."

 

Yes, the taxiways are complete. And yes, there will be a new parallel taxiway for runway 14/32. Construction will begin soon using federal stimulus money.

 

Derrick W. sends in this:

 

"Here's what I am curious about. When the new terminal opens, that will leave the old terminal vacant. I heard a while ago that OTC was in talks about it, but that story never panned out. So here is what im thinking. If Allegiant keeps growing, with our location, we could be a midwest hub for them. Now pretending that did happen, would opening the old terminal back up and just having one airline there be feasible. could even connect the two terminals with a train. I know this is unlikely to happen, however since alot of bigger airports are set up this way, I wanted to get your opinion on the situation. Thank you."

 

I like the way you think Derrick! However, I don't think that scenario is likely to pan out––especially in the current economy.

 

Belden in Houston, Texas is curious:

 

"I understand international flights from Springfield, MO. are not something in the works right now. However what about direct flights from Springfield to Houston, Texas? Is that something that is being looked into?"

 

It's been talked about, but an airline has never been convinced that a Springfield-Houston route is a money maker.