Flight Blog

Mar 26 2009 USO Facilities? BY sgf-adminTAGS How the Airport Works

 

A letter to the editor in a Springfield paper wants to know:

 

"With all the news coverage of the new airport in Branson opening as well as the new flights added to the Springfield/Branson Airport, I've not heard anyone mention about a proper USO being placed in either airport...is this a gross oversight?"

 

No, it's not an oversight.  Different groups have investigated the possibility and then decided not to purse it. We've always told the organizing groups that we would help in any way we can. The reasons they've decided not to set up a USO boil down to this:

 

  1. Passengers don't spend a lot of time in our terminal. In other words, we are not a hub airport where customers spend several hours waiting to make connections. Generally speaking, outbound passengers spend less than an hour here. Inbound passengers spend even less—as soon as their baggage hits the carousel, they're out of here! And most soldiers don't even have a checked bag to wait for.
  2. The number of soldiers using our airport is pretty small. On any given day, you're not even likely to see a member of the armed forces in the terminal. When you do, it's usually just one or two.

What's cool is to see the occasional welcoming party. Family and friends start to show up about half-an-hour before the soldier arrives. There are usually lots of kids, balloons and banners. They congregate outside the security check point and wait for their hero to arrive. It's one of those moments that you want to save and cherish.


Mar 25 2009 Cold Comfort BY sgf-adminTAGS Customer Service

 

suitcaseThe airlines are losing fewer bags! Hooray! Right?! Well, er, not exactly...

 

Reuter's reports, "The world's economic slowdown has reduced your odds of losing a bag the next time you fly..." In other words, there are fewer bags in the air, therefore there are fewer bags to lose.

 

There there's the matter of all those baggage fees! Baggage fees also mean fewer bags to lose!

 

I told you it was cold comfort.  : (


Mar 24 2009 Airline Woes Amplified BY sgf-adminTAGS Airlines

 

wingsdollarsThe economy is really starting to do a number on the airlines.

 

"The International Air Transport Association had estimated in December the industry would lose $2.5 billion in 2009." Now world "airlines are set to lose $4.7 billion this year as a result of the global recession that has shrunk passenger and cargo demand." That's the essence of a story today by Reuters.

 

The news doesn't get any better. OAG reports, "Global airline schedules for the first quarter 2009 have dropped by 6.7%, or 491,000 fewer flights. This is the first time we have seen a downturn in Q1 figures since 2002, when the industry was absorbing the double impact of 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. and an economic meltdown from the burst of the dot.com bubble. Capacity for this quarter also has fallen by 4.4%, representing a reduction of 38.6 million seats."

 

For those of you wondering what OAG is, it's essentially a company that gathers and reports on aviation related data and intelligence. We use OAG to provide the flight arrvial/departure data on the airport web site.

 

If all this bad news seems contrary to what you may have been reading in the business press, that's because the business press has been missing the boat on airline health since about the 4th quarter of last year. Just the other day I was reading a business story that babbled on-and-on about how the airlines were awash in money since the price of oil has dropped. Excuse me? The airlines weren't doing well back when oil was $50 a barrel. And that just happens to be what it is selling for right now. The typical airline business model doesn't deal well with oil that high! But I digress...

 

Is there a silver lining to all this? You bet, if you're a customer!  The airlines are responding to poor advance bookings by offering mega sale prices. Check out this overview from CNN/Money: Fly the dirt-cheap skies...


 

Mike blogs this:

 

"Hey what’s going on? I hear about Branson getting AirTran with service to Atlanta and Milwaukee. Now they got Sun Country airlines with service out of Minneapolis on a 737s and to add AirTran uses 717s. What do you think will happen? Do you think their fares will be consistently lower b/c they use large aircraft? Are any of the airlines at SGF talking about lowering prices?"

 

Let's cut to the chase and then explain why. We don't think the airport south of Branson will have much impact on our airport. Why? Because it caters to a very select crowd and the service will be very limited (in terms of options that if offers customers).

 

There will be SW Missourians who use it, but probably not in significant enough numbers for Springfield airlines to notice. If (and it's a big if) significant competition does emerge, it's likely that Springfield airlines will respond by cutting fares. And that would be good for customers at both airports.

 

Mike...I'm not picking on you, but I need to challenge a couple of your assumptions. First of all, a larger airplane does not, in and of itself, mean lower fares. Fares are determined by the fare structure, or, if you will, the business model being used by the airline. Simply put, an airline can have "low fares" on either big planes or small planes–depending on the business model and fare structure that the airline uses. There are dozens of variables that an airline juggles that help determine fares. The variables include the average distance traveled on an airline's route system, the size of its route system, the cost of fuel, the cost of labor, the cost of airplane maintenance, airport fees and charges, and, in the case of Branson, the amount of compensation received from the airport. The list goes on.

 

I sense that you're assuming that fares will be lower at the Branson airport and that they will be consistently lower. That's a huge assumption.

 

With all airlines prices go up and down. They have fire sales. They have introductory fares. And then there are the factors that customers sometimes forget about. For example, let's suppose you see an advertisement for AirTran that says you can fly from Branson to Atlanta for $79 one way. Well, that's good if you just want to go to Atlanta. But what if you're ultimate destination is somewhere else? Let's say you want to go to San Francisco. What's it going to cost you to fly to San Francisco from Atlanta? Is the total cost of flying from Branson to San Francisco less than the cost of flying from Springfield to San Francisco? Probably not. Of course, right now, we don't have anyway of knowing because the Branson service doesn't have a track record.

 

Now let's talk a little bit about what we do know about: the service in Springfield.

 

Our airport has non-stop service to 12 destinations (on May 3, when we start service to Los Angeles, we'll have 13 non-stop destinations). Five of those 13 destinations are on a low-cost airline, Allegiant Air. It's not unusual to find roundtrip fare on Allegiant for less than a hundred bucks. That means that sometimes you can go to Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Los Angeles for less that $100.

 

As for the other three airlines in Springfield (American, Delta/Northwest and United), there are good deals out there. In the past week I chatted with someone who found roundtrip fare between Springfield and Cozumel, Mexico for $330. That's on American! Another person told me about just booking roundtrip fare between Springfield and Seattle for $340.

 

Don't believe it? Check out one of those web sites that hunts for low fares. Here's some of what airfarewatchdog.com found on Friday:

 

  • $185 roundtrip to Chicago O'Hare on American. No minimum stay.
  • $213 roundtrip to Houston IAH on American, No minimum stay.

Or how about the weekend sales? Here's a sampling:

 

  • Albuquerque, NM   $202 roundtrip. United.
  • Chicago O'Hare $186 roundtrip. United.
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX $200 roundtrip. American.
  • Manchester, NH $264 roundtrip. United.
  • Missoula, MT $266 roundtrip. United.
  • Spokane, WA $274 roundtrip. United.
  • Washington Dulles, DC $220 roundtrip. United.
  • White Plains, NY $250 roundtrip. United.

People who say fares are always higher in Springfield are out-of-touch!

 

That’s probably more answer than you wanted Mike; I hope it all made sense within the context of your questions.


 

As many of you know, Allegiant Air announced on Wednesday that it will provide our airport with non-stop service to Los Angeles International Airport, beginning May 3.

 

What you may not know is that Allegiant is also providing the LA service to 11 other small cities like ours: Bellingham, WA, Grand Junction, CO, Monterey, CA, Billings, MT. McAllen, TX, Sioux Falls, SD, Des Moines, IA, Medford, OR, Fargo, ND ,Missoula, MT and Wichita, KS.

 

Hang with me here, there's a reason why I'm telling you this! We just found out from Allegiant that we "have the best early bookings of all markets!"