Some Cassandra: Dire airport forecasts draw response

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Our friend Kevin Mitchell has spent the week warning of an end to service at many airports as the fuel crisis continues. He’s even set up a website, savemyairport.com. Kevin testified the other day before the House Small Business Committee hearing that was probing how the airline crisis is hurting businesses everywhere such as travel agencies, hotels and others. But Mitchell’s warnings have drawn a response; our friend Jay Campbell, in a post on his blog The Beat, questioned “BTC’s hyperbole,” a entry in which he quote several folks including yours truly.

But one of the most interesting responses comes from our friend (isn’t it good to have so many friends?) Kristie van Auken, the Akron/Canton airport‘s indefatigable (that means tireless) communicator. Kristie, who has her own blog, says that Mitchell listed her airport as one of about 150 that are threatened by cutbacks.


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But “apparently, he hasn’t talked to any of our airline partners. They tell me a very different story…and though I don’t think CAK will be totally flight reduction free, I think we are going to survive just fine, thank you very much.” We recommend a peek at Kristie’s blog because it shows what a relatively small airport can do if it applies a little personality and a little creativity, and also because she mentions Network 2009, the Airline Business route-planning event that will be at Fort Worth’s elegant Worthington Hotel next March.

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4 Responses to Some Cassandra: Dire airport forecasts draw response

  1. Kevin Mitchell June 30, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    David, my friend, it means virtually nothing what any given airline is communicating to any given airport about service levels, whether it’s about contraction, or growth. Major airline failure means no service; that’s the point. And with oil prices where they are, we are heading for an industry-wide failure in the next nine months.

    Here’s a second opinion from the Air Transport Association.

    The New York Times Front Page story (http://tinyurl.com/5ltnwe) Saturday, June 28 states: “By year’s end, roughly 100 American communities will be left without regular commercial air service, and that number may double next year, according to the Air Transport Association, the industry trade group.

    BTC only said last week that 150 communities are AT RISK of losing SOME or ALL service if oil stays at $130/barrel (Friday’s price: $140). The ATA projection is FAR MORE specific and ominous, yet like BTC’s alert, it is not accompanied, at least publically, by detailed analysis at the local airport-market level. BTC’s 150 communities and ATA’s 200 are no doubt 90% the same. Time is of-the-essence to get the word out about this crisis and encourage Congress to engage.

    Here’s a third opinion from Dr. J in today’s Dallas Morning News.
    People who put money into such carriers as MAXjet Airways Inc., Aloha Air Inc., Skybus Airlines Inc., Eos Airlines Inc. and Silverjet PLC have seen those carriers go bankrupt and cease in the past six months. Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc. continues to operate but has had to seek Chapter 11 protection from creditors. Champion Air Inc. and Big Sky Airways Inc. didn’t go bankrupt, but rising costs prompted them to stop operations, and shareholders of Big Sky’s owner, MAIR Inc., voted Friday to liquidate and go out of business. Mesa Air Group Inc.’s Air Midwest unit will cease operations today.

    Mr. Maldutis said that unless fuel prices abate, those airline failures are only the beginning. “By Labor Day, we’ll have seen a whole bunch of smaller carriers shut down,” he said. “Then we’ll see the larger carrier go into Chapter 11.” If oil goes to $150 and above as some are predicting, “are we going to see virtually this entire industry in bankruptcy?” Mr. Maldutis asked. http://tinyurl.com/5ldmp6

    BTC doesn’t want any local airports shut down – to the contrary, it wants to do all it can to keep and expand air service. There will be no joy for BTC if any of our dire projections come true. Our motivation is to catalyze action that will make our predictions wrong and obsolete.

    To get the attention of a sometimes lethargic Congress, it’s often necessary to be very blunt and direct about what’s at stake, particularly at the local level. And judging by the attention that the fuel crisis and its impact on U.S. airlines are currently receiving, some of it as a result of BTC’s advocacy, it seems as though our alerts are having an impact.

    Saturday’s New York Times also reported: “I implore American Airlines, as well as the other carriers considering various cost-saving scenarios, to take into account more than profit when they evaluate routes, Gov. David A. Paterson of New York said this week after American announced a series of cuts affecting La Guardia and other state airports.”

    All Governors should engage this crisis, as should State Attorneys General who can increase pressure on USG investigations into possible manipulation of oil futures markets.

  2. David Field July 7, 2008 at 4:52 pm #

    Kevin

    I don’t question the dire straights we’re in, but you scared a lot of people and a lot of airports – who struck back.

    After all, your methodology was less than transparent.

    David

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