Flight Blog


Airline growth is always good, but the new year, and the growth that comes with it, presents challenges — we need your help to make sure we stay on track.

A couple of weeks ago the airlines serving Springfield turned in their passenger numbers for November — those numbers all but confirm that 2015 will end up being the busiest year in the history of the Springfield airport.

The all-time airline passenger record for Springfield was set in 2005, with 888,738 total passengers. This year the airlines are on track to move more than 920,000 people through our airport.

Airline growth is good for Springfield and the region, but it presents challenges for the airport — we need your help to make sure we stay on track.

Earlier this year we commissioned a survey of airline passengers at the airport. They had mostly good things to say, but as you’ll see in a minute, there’s room for improvement.

H2R Marketing Research, a Springfield based company, conducted the survey from May 15th to August 15th of this year. 543 departing passengers participated. Overall satisfaction was 4.48 on a 5 point scale. These same passengers rated other airports at 3.61.

Jerry Henry, the owner of H2R, says the survey shows that wait time in the check-in line is the single most important thing to passengers — the shorter, the better. They also want clean restrooms, helpful and efficient TSA security staff, and a pleasing atmosphere. In all of these areas the airport gets very high marks.

But here’s the kicker —

The last passenger survey we did was in 2011. Since then the number of people using the airport has increased more than 20%, while the average satisfaction score fell 3%. That’s the challenge we face — as the number of people using the airport grows, customer satisfaction goes down.

Jerry tells us that whenever there a big increase in customers, satisfaction levels tend to go down. As he puts it, “It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re talking about — a hotel, an attraction, or a retail store. The decrease in customer satisfaction is not unexpected. What was unexpected was how little the score fell.”

While it’s good to know that a 3% decrease is good, we want to do better. And that’s where we need your help. Give us your feedback; let us know how we’re doing — not just today, but anytime.

There are many things that people dislike about air travel. Those things show up clearly in the survey. They include the cost of airline fare. Airline fees, delayed flights, cancelled flights, airplane mechanical problems, parking rates, security screening, and the price of coffee.

We sympathize, but please know that the airport has little or no control over some of these issues. Believe you me — if we could fix some of those airline issues we’d do it in a heartbeat!

That being said let us know everything. We’ll let you know if it’s something the airport can’t control, and why. And we’ll do our best to improve those things that we can.

You can reach out to us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/flysgf , via Twitter @flySGF, or email: info at flyspringfield.com.

You can read the full survey report by clicking here.

 


 

In our recent post about the slight downward trend in fares Jason Blevins offered this on Facebook:

“You (the airport) have a direct influence in fare rates. Your contracted landing fees and SKY HIGH fuel rates drive up the costs.” 

Here’s how it really works. Let’s start with fuel. The airport does not sell fuel to the airlines. Each airline has its own contract with the oil company.

As for landing fees, that assertion is off base too...

The airport/airline business has a metric called “cost per enplanement.” That’s CPE for short.

CPE is the cost to the airline, at a given airport, for every passenger who gets on a plane. CPE includes landing fees, and the lease cost airlines pay for facilities at the airport.

In April the CPE at the Springfield airport was $5.70 per passenger. In 2012 a report by Moody’s Investment Services stated that the average CPE nationwide was $7.76.

Keep in mind that the Moody’s number is an average. At some airports it's much higher. Want to see for yourself? Click here to take the Google search for a CPE spin ....

You’ll find in places like Miami International the CPE was $20.39 in 2013. Cleveland: $15.37 in 2013. Dallas: $6.74 in 2012.

If you’d like to talk just about landing fees, the current landing fee at Springfield is $1.30 per thousand pounds. 

Click here to check out this St. Louis Post-Dispatch story from 2011 on landing fees in St. Louis...

What you'll find in the story: in 2011 the landing fee at St. Louis was $8.96. Kansas City: $1.96.

I know a lot of you are scratching your head at this point. If CPE is lower in Springfield, why aren’t fares lower? As a matter of principle, most airports, including ours, do everything they can to keep cost low. But in the final analysis CPE doesn't have much to do with fares.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out this story from January in the Dallas Morning News...

Please note the paper's quote from the chairman of American Airlines, Doug Parker: “What we believe is that pricing is tied to demand… and that’s what we should base our pricing on and not based on our cost structure.”

The newspaper reporter put it more succinctly: "On their earnings call Tuesday, American Airlines executives said that demand, not costs, determines what they charge for fares."
 


Aug 11 2015 Fares Are Down, Say What?! BY sgf-adminTAGS Airlines, Fares

 

Here’s something you haven’t heard about …

In Springfield, and Northwest Arkansas, the airlines are charging less; fares are going down.

Yes, you read that right. Fares are down. They've been going down for the past two years. They’re not down much, but they are down. Take a look at the numbers. The cost of fare is shown as “one-way” because that’s how the industry tracks fare data:

 

Springfield (SGF)

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Average one-way fare

$230.03

$255.00

$260.49

$257.82

$253.56

           
           

Northwest Arkansas (XNA)

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Average one-way fare

$276.41

$305.59

$318.02

$318.21

$296.73

Fare data compiled by Boyd Group International August 10, 2015

 

Common wisdom says the recent airline mergers have driven up the cost of flying, but it isn’t happening here. So, what’s going on? We think it boils down to one thing: competition among the four big airlines that survived the consolidation wave. Here’s an example …

In early July American Airlines announced new service between Springfield and Charlotte, beginning November 5. The lowest introductory fare we saw American offer was $225 round-trip. The price bounced up and down for several days. Then Delta and United jumped in with their own low fare trips to Charlotte. By July 21 all three airlines matched each other for round-trip to Charlotte: $303.

This kind of competitive price matching goes on in Springfield more than people realize …

Since July 1 we’ve seen the following price wars:

  • Allegiant offered round-trip fare to Los Angeles for $322. Delta countered with $318.
  • American, Delta, and United, matched each other with round-trips fares to Cancun: $566.
  • Delta and United matched each other (again) for a round-trip to Charlotte: $278.
  • American’s fare for a round-trip to Cancun fell to $464.
  • Delta and United matched fares to Fort Lauderdale: $280.

In the past week we’ve seen:

  • American round-trip to Dallas: $170
  • American round-trip to Austin: $274
  • American round-trip to New York City - Kennedy Airport: $315
  • Allegiant round-trip to Las Vegas: $142
  • Allegiant round-trip to St. Petersburg/Tampa: $135
  • Delta round-trip to Charlotte: $224

There's more, but you get the idea — the airlines are definitely going head to head in Springfield. Ditto for Northwest Arkansas. Let's hope the trend continues.