Flight Blog

Apr 05 2008 Skybus Folds BY adminTAGS Airlines

 

skyb.gifThe airline famous for having a few $10 seats on every flight ends operations today. On Monday it plans to file for bankruptcy. It's the third airline closing this week.

 

Skybus began business less than a year ago and was based in Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch quotes aviation analyst Michael Boyd: ""They had a dumb model. The original plan never had a chance, at $50-a-barrel oil or $100-a-barrel oil. But I really thought someone could come in and turn it around. The pressures on airlines today are very different than they have been in the past. They're shutting down suddenly now to preserve whatever assets they have for the creditors."

 

Read the company announcment here.

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Apr 04 2008 Axe Falls at Northwest Arkansas BY adminTAGS American

 

The Northwest Arkansas airport is losing service to Miami and Raleigh, NC. American Airlines will end the routes in May and June. The Morning News quotes the airport director as saying the routes were losing money.

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Apr 04 2008 Three Dominos? BY adminTAGS Airlines

 

domino.jpgSo far this week two U.S. airlines have filed for bankruptcy: ATA and Aloha. Both are (were) small, low-cost niche carriers. You've probably never heard of them, but their collapse won't go unnoticed in the industry. Consider the fact that ATA was a code-sharing partner with Southwest Airlines. Southwest now has to scramble and deal with the aftermath. But wait, there's another: Champion Air says it's closing shop on May 31. The small charter company is based in Minnesota.

 

For the past several years low-cost carriers have presumably had an advantage over the legacy airlines: low business cost and cheap fares. But the high cost of jet fuel is putting the pressure on ALL the airlines. This week's bad news could foreshadow things to come.

 

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that, "Northwest Airlines Corp will park aircraft and cut domestic capacity by an estimated 5 percent later this year and take other steps to counter sky-rocketing fuel costs..." And late last week Allegiant Air announced service cuts in several of its origination cities.

 

If there's any good news to report (from the customers point-of-view), it's probably a story from Reuters that says, "The rapid pace of air fare hikes this year may be slowing as airlines brace for weaker demand." But wait, there's a flip side: "...their need [the airlines] to pass on fuel costs to travelers through new fees remains greater than ever." This flip side may be in play in the bankruptcies.

 

Against this backdrop Josiah wants to know if I have any thoughts on yesterday's announcement by John Q. Hammons that he plans to build a hotel at the airport being built south of Branson...

 

Well, as I've written several times before, we wish that airport best wishes and good luck. In the current aviation economy it's going to need an abundance of both. Short of subsidizing an airline to fly there, it's hard to imagine how an airline could be persuaded to fly into an unproven market. If subsidies are paid the question them becomes, how long can they be paid? Keep in mind, though, that Mr. Hammons doesn't do anything without a plan, so perhaps some private business plans are in the works that could tip the scales in the airport's and Hammon's favor.

 

Josiah also want to know if there are any plans to build hotels on West Chestnut, near the entrance road to the new terminal? I haven't heard of any, but I'm not a good person to ask about that.

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Mar 29 2008 Security Stories BY adminTAGS TSA

 

A doozy of a news story from Reuters today concerning a security checkpoint experience in Lubbock. I think it's safe to say that TSA horror stories are not as common as they sometimes seem to be. Still, TSA is concerned enough to have recently started a public relations blog to address public concerns and questions.

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Robert has questions about long lines and responds to the post about the mongrel that doesn't hunt...

 

"I know security lines have been much longer because of the spring break rush, my question is what features will the new airport have in security to minimize this problem. Do we have the capabilities of a second security line in the new terminal if needed? Also...I know thinking out in the future when the new terminal gets to 30-40 gates will security be through one centralized area or where there be 2-3 security section spread through out the airport. Thanks so much. My 2 cents on the above commentary [ that dog don't hunt ] I love Allegiant and find SGF comparable for some routes, however on some routes SGF is almost 3-4 times the price. I always shop all prices and end up driving somewhere now only 1 out of every 3 times vs. 2 out of 3 just 5 yrs ago. I would love to see Allegiant add more destinations and hope this will happen if gas ever gets back under control. Thanks for listening to my banter and once again thanks for making yourself accessible to the public–it shows us how you really care about letting us get insight into the running of the airport."

 

Robert...I'm going to be long winded...forgive me.

 

The length of security lines is dependent upon several factors, including: 1) the layout of the operation; meaning how well does the physical layout of the security operation lend itself to getting people through the line quickly? 2) How big is the crowd of customers? 3) Are there enough security employees on duty to get people through the process in a timely fashion?

 

In our current terminal we're hamstrung by cramped space–there isn't nearly enough space at either of our "security checkpoints" (that's the official lingo for security lines). It's a problem at many airports. Why? Because terminals built before September 2001 didn't anticipate post 9/11 security requirements. The new terminal is designed to accommodate post 9/11 security. That should speed up the screening process.

 

You ask about a second check point in the new terminal...

 

When the new terminal opens it will have ten gates and one check point. The physical layout of the checkpoint is designed to accommodate at least the maximum number of customers that can efficiently use ten gates. In other words, when we out grow ten gates and start adding more, I think it's a good bet we'll add security check points. Make sense?

 

Thanks for the comments about shopping for fares in an educated and open-minded manner. That's really all we're asking people to do. Bottom line: sometimes it only makes sense to fly from other airports. But please don't assume it always makes sense...

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