A columnist for a Springfield paper writes today about the frustration of finding cheaper flights in Tulsa. I felt his pain, but I also got a good chuckle. His misperceptions about the airline business are understandable and commonplace.
In trying to understand why low-cost airline ExpressJet doesn't serve Springfield, he writes, “I saw the airport in Albuquerque and I saw the airport in Tulsa. I wasn’t impressed. They weren't that much bigger than the Springfield-Branson National Airport.” That’s not quite right. Here’s how the 2006 total passenger numbers stack up:
- Albuquerque: 6,346,159
- Tulsa: 3,163,475
- Springfield-Branson: 862,611
The airports in Albuquerque and Tulsa are much, much bigger than Springfield-Branson. That’s why those airports have lured ExpressJet.
It’s also worth noting that ExpressJet is not a discount carrier running in the same league as Southwest, JetBlue, AirTran, etc. It’s a regional jet company that flys for other airlines. In April it started flying under its own name at cut rate prices. This news story from Reuters sums it up well. It will be interesting to see if the airline can hold on.