Can you Do TOO Much to Get an Airline to Fly to Your City?

By | March 28, 2010
Daniel Field (now Augusta Regional Airport) Ge...
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Augusta Regional Airport is getting into the airline handling business. As part of their deal to bring in American Eagle for two daily flights to Dallas., not only are they waiving landing fees, but they will be handling ramp duties and passenger processing for the first year.

These deals are somewhat intriguing and always have been. An airport wants service, and guarantees revenue to an airline, thus eliminating its risk. Unfortunately, too often when the subsidy runs out, the airline leaves.

Specifically with Augusta, it made us wonder about possible new models. What would things be like if regional airports got into the ramp services and passenger processing business? It is sort of an interesting concept for the smaller airports. Instead of a Delta counter, or an American counter…you just have a counter. The airport employees do not dress up in the uniforms of any one carrier. They issue tickets, board planes, and all the other duties. How would that work out, we wonder?

As for the subsidy issue, airports are always searching for new service. They are businesses and it is in their interest. But sometimes these services end up not being sustainable. To play devil’s advocate, why should so many little airports demand a large amount of service? For a route to be sustainable from a regional airport, it should be to a city with good point to point traffic, and with good connections onward.

Too often in the regional market, the cost of flying merely to the hub city is prohibitive, but if you fly byond it, even on the same plane, the price is significantly lower. This by itself hurts a new route.

Either way, if after the contract period, the airline pulls out…the airport and/or the municipality has effective thrown its money down a hole…with very little to show for it.