Airport Competition: Passengers are up for Grabs!
There is airport competition for passengers…Whether your airport is actively competing or not.
Airports are like Baseball Stadiums. The build it and they will come philosophy does not apply. Passengers will use airports that they perceive will offer the best value and convenience for their flight trips. If passengers aren’t up to speed on your airports value, you can lose them even when your airport value is better than alternative airports.
“American has said that 87 percent of its passengers — accounting for half the airline’s revenue — flew on the carrier just once last year.
For those people, air travel was probably purchased just on the basis of price, meaning 50 percent of the company’s revenue was up for grabs; “We have to compete for them.”
American Airlines President
Airlines Compete and there is Airport competition for passengers
Both commercial airlines and airports, are in the airline business. Airlines have come to understand that operating a successful airline requires more than scheduling and operating flights. Airlines need to create value with their flight service and regularly present the value of flying their airline versus their competition if they are to maximize flight revenues and profits.
Like the airlines, airports have Airport competition for potential flyers living in or flying to their region. This competition includes nearby regional airports, the automobile, bus and train service. Just obtaining air service is not in and of itself Airport competition for passengers.
Long distances to alternate airports – Will not always help your airport retain passengers
Low Fares and more flight options offered by alternate airports, can help another airport capture your passengers. Denver is 267 miles away from Grand Junction, Colorado and 128 miles away from Pueblo, Colorado yet Denver carries about 20% and 52% of these airports passengers.
What about passenger drive time and cost?
These factors are not always considered. Nor is the concept of productive time lost, the tendency of longer security check-point wait times at larger airports and other air travel factors…especially if your airport is not out in the market regularly communicating your airports relative value.
Can an appeal to support the local airport help?
Yes…but it can’t be just a “Support Local” message.
Air Passengers are consumers and like consumers will vote with their pocketbooks. You can’t overcome an extremely large price difference by just asking your passengers to support your local airport. True airport competition requires you to regularly present your airports value proposition in your passenger marketplace.
Convey your Airports Value:
- Note travel time savings and the value of your passenger’s time
- Provide cost savings versus your competition on parking, gas, automobile and hotel
- Share how support of your local airport helps you acquire more air service
- Emphasize how use of your airport aids your community economic health
- Reveal how flying from your airport can help lower local taxes
- Through airline sales and deals, and specify good times to buy local flight tickets
While most small airports will likely always lose some passengers to larger and lower flight cost airports with more schedule choice, there is typically an opportunity for your airport to recapture some of these passengers. Actively advising your passenger market about your airports value will help to recapture many of these flyers and is effective airport competition.
Scott Stewart is the principal of Community Flights. Community Flights is an airline support, development and management company that has helped small airports compete successfully for their passengers. Community Flights offers an Airfare Club air deal notification service that helps small airports regularly convey their value to both their local and inbound destination flight travelers as well as other passenger capture services.
Community Flights email: [email protected] / phone 970-759-3559