The Answer to Sustain or Increase Airport Air Service is Simple – Present Airport Data Well AND Drive Good Airport Data!
While it is extremely important to present to airlines, traffic and other passenger data in its most favorable light, This doesn’t replace the need to drive good airport data. The creation of strong passenger usage of your airport and therefore compelling passenger data, is often overlooked by airports. With the highly competitive environment for increasing air service, airports that don’t drive good airport data will have a harder time sustaining or growing air service.
“Don’t Put Lipstick on a Pig! Work Strategically and Consistently to Create Compelling Passenger Performance at Your Airport”
Pretty graphics and insightful analysis that is not backed up by a very compelling financial case that states the airports current air service is not meeting the demand at your airport, will likely not compel an airline to take a risk on increasing capacity or adding a new market service to your airport. While not all airports are operating below their peak passenger performance capabilities, many are. Many Airports have passenger traffic that they are losing to other airports and don’t recognize they should drive good airport data. They can pull back some passenger traffic to their airport with an effective passenger engagement program. Airports should focus on showing airlines there is spillage (Unsatisfied local passenger demand) currently happening that will be corrected with an increase in air service.
“70% load factors are not going to rouse an airline analysts interests…when you show 85% or more load factor and strong ticket and ancillary revenue, then that airline will contact you to increase air service. You may not have to chase down an airline to get their attention on your airport.”
So you want to drive good airport data and improve passenger traffic performance. I just need to do a lot of advertising right? Maybe…
We’ve found the critical elements to improving your passenger traffic begin with increasing passenger awareness and connection with your airport. Advertising is just one tool in the tool box to create more passenger awareness. Are local passengers regularly engaged with your airport or have they given up and look to fly out of an alternate regional airport without even checking rates at your local airport? Does your community understand that your air service is or could be an economic asset that when properly supported can drive a diversification and an increase in your economic activity locally? If not you need to focus your effort to improve your passenger numbers and drive good airport data by addressing these issues first.
Air Service is Market Driven
Don’t expect an appeal to “Local Loyalty” alone to win back passengers. Unless you can give compelling value arguments for your airport versus alternative airports (or at least close the gap on value if you are way behind other airport options), an emotional appeal to loyalty will not work. Every potential air traveler, whether for personal or business travel, has economic conditions or limitations that will drive their air ticket purchases. Airports that understand these market driven economic considerations and make appeals that highlight the local airport’s value are the airports that will win back a good segment of these air travelers and will drive good airport data that can sustain or grow air service.
It’s About Sustainable Air Service
Airports should not just be focused on new service but should also be concerned and watchful of retaining present air service. With the airline industry rationalizing into fewer regional flights, increasing average aircraft size in small markets and looking to condense and limit flight frequencies in many other markets (Driven by a shortage of qualified pilots with the new FAA pilot rules), many airports are as likely to see air service reductions as they are to see airlines consider capacity or new flight increases.
Quality of Total Passenger Revenue Should Also be an Airport Focus
I’ve seen communities drive 90%+ load factors on some of their flights, but still lose air service or pay out on revenue guarantee programs. Ultimately all airlines are looking for good revenue production and profit. Focusing on revenue beyond just the ticket revenue is also very critical. If the profitable revenue target is a dollar or more and your ticket revenue brings in 90 cents and other fee’s like bag fee’s, priority boarding etc…bring in another 30 cents, airlines will value your community higher than a community that brings in just the dollar and 10 cents in ancillary revenue. Through community engagement with the value of bundled air tickets and services and pre-purchase of services, Airports can help the airlines see more total revenue while also delivering more value and savings to the customer. Airlines see more profit, passengers get the services they want at a better cost and the airport improves the sustainability and growth potential of its air service. A Win, Win, Win. To effectively drive good airport data, airports must also focus on total revenue…not just passenger numbers.
Community Flights is an air service support, development and management company that facilitates small community airports sustaining air service as well as better positioning themselves for air service growth opportunities. A coordinated strategic “Community Effort” has a proven track record to lead to the best opportunities for community air service success. For more information email [email protected] or go to our website at www.communityflights.com