Questions: Flying Fibs, Frontier, & Southwest

 

Joe has a question in response to the Flying Fibs post:

"Thanks for posting this. I actually flew last Friday, on the Allegiant flight of Las Vegas, and let me tell you, the pilot was getting hot after the tug spinning his wheels on push back, the deicing truck getting stuck on the ice. Once the deicer got to our plane, it did take longer than the “10 minutes” the pilot said it would, however, the plane had sat for 2 hours between flights. Most of the passengers sitting on the left side of the plane, including my wife, really expressed their displeasure watching the two American Eagle planes push back after us, get deiced, and leave before us! Just curious, does American have their own deicing crews/trucks? All in all, another pleasant experience flying from SGF."

Yes, American has its own de-icing crews/truck. Based on what you've described, I suspect the issue with the Allegiant de-icing was the shear size of the plane. Remember, those American jets you saw being pushed back are considerably smaller than the MD80 jet that Allegiant uses. The MD-80 is a lot heavier.  That probably explains why the tug was having traction problems, while the American tugs were doing just fine. It's also possible that the American tugs had a cleaner ramp surface (less snow and ice on the pavement). As for the Allegiant de-icing truck getting stuck, that's one of those problems that make airport winter operations such a drag!

Vinnie watched the news last night and saw the story about our airport's growth in 2009. He has a question:

"I caught the end of the segment about the state of the airport on the 9pm Fox local news. They mentioned something about Southwest Airlines flying to one destination three times a day and carrying 100,000 passengers. I thought that Southwest didn’t look at destinations with less than 1,000,000 in their metro. I assume that this comment was a hypothetical about what it would take for Southwest to come to town and why it isn’t a possibility, but I was hoping you could clear this up. Thanks."

Well, I didn't see that newscast, but I think I know what was going on. Airport director Gary Cyr was asked why Southwest doesn't operate in Springfield. When he gets that question, he usually responds by telling people how many passengers Southwest would want to carry in the market over a year's time. It goes something like this: "Southwest would want to have five flights a day, with the goal of filling a 130 seat aircraft to at least 80% capacity."  In order to generate that many passengers, you need a metro area with a million people. Make sense?

Chris has a question about the announcement yesterday of Frontier service to the airport south Branson:

"How did Branson get Frontier Airlines to fly to Denver? On top of that its a much bigger plane than United offers. An A320."

Well, first of all I don't think the service is going to be on an Airbus A320.  The Frontier press release says it's on a E190. That's a smaller jet, made by Embraer, that typically seats 80.

How did Branson get Frontier? We don't know exactly, and neither that airport or Frontier is going to tell you.  We do know that the service is being subsidized, in some form or fashion, by the airport.  In other words, the airline is being paid to provide the service by the airport.  Frontier would never fly in there on its own dime because they're isn't enough natural demand for the service to make it financially viable.

It's also possible that somebody besides the airport is helping subsidize the service. The airport and Express Jet have approached numerous small city airports and have asked those airports to pony up money for service. Rockford, Illinois is one example. I'm not suggesting that the Denver airport is paying up. You can be certain that it is not. I'm just making the point that there could be money coming to Frontier from more than one entity.

 

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