jhooper
Posts: 5560
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2001 8:27 pm

Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Mon Nov 18, 2002 1:38 pm

Today I was driving back to College Station, TX from San Antonio. With all the traffic on the highway with me, an idea sprang into my head. I contemplated an airline based at College Station Easterwood Field (CLL) and serves the O & D markets of Austin, San Antonio, DFW, and Houston. I ran the details through my head (flight schedules, aircraft type, logistics, fares). Obviously I would need to do extensive market research if I were taking this idea seriously, but I wanted some imput from you guys (particularly B757300 and JamesAg96) to see if something like this would be profitable. I realize there used to be an airline that ran routes similar to this many years ago [presumably unsuccessfully], but things have changed alot since then. Currently Easterwood sees several flights per day to DFW and Houston (a couple of flights to Houston are Regional Jets). These flights are generally for connecting customers only, as the O&D fare is prohibitively expensive.

The basic idea would be to buy approximately five Beechcraft 1900s, and operate them as follows:

Aircraft #1

6:30am: CLL-AUS
7:30am: AUS-SAT
8:30am: SAT-CLL
(repeat this pattern)

Aircraft #2

6:00am: CLL-SAT
7:00am: SAT-AUS
8:00am: AUS-CLL
(repeat this pattern)

Aircraft #3
6:00am: CLL-GKY (Arlington, TX0
7:30am: GKY-CLL
9:00am: CLL-HOU (Hobby Airport)
10:00am: HOU-CLL
(repeat this patten)

Aircraft #4
6:00am: CLL-HOU
7:00am: HOU-CLL
8:00am: CLL-GKY
9:30am: GKY-CLL
(repeat this pattern)

Aircraft #5
Rotated in as a spare so maintenance could be performed.

Costs involved: Capital assets (i.e. aircraft), maintenance, insurance, fuel, administrative costs, regulatory compliance costs, pilots, ground handling staff, training, facility fees.

Reservations would be made solely over the internet based on a three-tier fare structure (21-day advance purchase, 7-day advance purchase, and walk-up fare). There would be fares available that would make this an affordance option for college students who travel home or to go partying on weekends.


So................could this happen?
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jcs17
Posts: 7376
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2001 11:13 am

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Mon Nov 18, 2002 1:51 pm

I have thought about the same thing...but, in my non-professional opinion...it wouldnt last longer than 3 weeks. First of all, I doubt there would be enough traffic on the weekdays, there are very few "professionals" working out of College Station, and even then the summer traffic would be awful...there is no way that the summer traffic could sustain this airline.

However, how's this for an idea, you do the same thing...only less frequencies, maybe 2 flights daily on the MTWTh. During those days the other aircraft are used for cargo flights between the US and Mexico (from IAH, DFW-to the border towns). During the weekends though, you provide "party" flights...say flights departing CLL at 7-8PM to HOU and DFW Area and returning at 2-4AM back to CLL. During the days of the weekends you do morning flights and afternoon flights for students who might want to shop or something in those towns. A Beech 1900D is the perfect plane for this operation though.
America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
 
jhooper
Posts: 5560
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2001 8:27 pm

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:09 pm

Thank you very much JCS17 for your input..
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
 
txagkuwait
Posts: 1388
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 1999 7:39 am

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:22 pm

I'm on duty right now and don;t have time to critique your idea right this second.....

But as

(a) a former employee of Guy Davis dba Davis Airlines (CLL-DAL/DFW; CLL-IAH)

and (b) the offspring of a 23 yr veteran of *TTa (multiple routes in and out of CLL)

I will, by 9 pm CST on Monday, tell you what is right and what is wrong with your plans.

Best regards

TxAqQ8
 
txagkuwait
Posts: 1388
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 1999 7:39 am

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Tue Nov 19, 2002 7:43 am

As promised:

Easterwood Field (CLL) does not generate any significant volume of intra-Texas traffic. The vast and I do mean vast majority of people cacthing American eagle...Continental Express et al flights are going someplace far away.

The last data I can get my hands on suggested that the "BIG" market out of CLL was Dallas/Ft Worth at 57 passengers per day and an average one way fare of $121. Houston (IAH) traffic did not even meet the 10 passengers per day threshhold to get it listed.

That would be my experience of roughly 22 years ago.....and my dad's experience of 42 years ago. The Dallas market has gotten bigger, due primarily to the growth of the BCS metro area, but 57 pax per day is nothing to really brag about.

The other markets within the state...Houston, Austin, and San Antonio are far too close. I've done CLL-HOU in a Beech 1900 in, oh, I guess it was 1986 or 1987. Gate-to-gate was 30 minutes or so. Add in: drive to airport, security, flight check in, wait on plane, fly, get off plane, arrange ground transportation or shlep off to the parking lot to retrieve your car, and the drive from the airport to your car....well, you sure as heck haven't saved any time. You've invested 2 1/2, maybe 3 hours in something you can drive in an hour and a half.

Can't save money either. I am guessing here but I would suggest that a commuter carrier as you desrcibe is going to end up with an ASM cost of somewhere in the vicinity of 30 cents a seat mile. Let's try to set our fare where we can break even with about a 50% load factor. That would mean our average revenue per passenger needs to be about $54 between HOI & CLL. With me so far? That's $54, no we need to add the excise tax (around $8) security fee ($5) and leg tax ($2.50) oh and let us not forget the city airport tax ($3). So the "average" fare needs to come in at $72.50.

Friend, you are not going to be able to give too many seats away at a weekend leisure travel rate of $39 because you are not going to be able to squeeze many folks for much more than $72.

In fact, I don't know many folks willing to cough up $39 for a 90 mile ride when decent highways with semi-frequent Dairy Queens are a viable alternative.

And that's the biggest problem you have with the next tier of cities in Texas....the Abilenes, San Angelos, Tylers, Longviews, Laredos, and Beaumonts......had highways been just a little less good than they are, those cities might have ended up with Southwest back when Southwest was confined inside the borders as an intrastate. But the highways in Texas are good, and the local traffic will flow along the highways if (a) the distance and time is not too onerous and (b) cost of any sort of airline travel is prohibitive.

Once upon a time the local service airlines (Trans Texas Airways) did carry, at least proportionately, a larger amount of local traffic in and out of the smaller cities and towns in Texas. (Heck, at one time Brownwood, Alice, Beeville, Ft Stockton, Marfa, Pecos, Mineral Wells, Sweetwater, Plainview, Big Spring, Lufkin, Palestine, and Paris boasted airline service). The local service airlines received a subsidy to provide service to these towns. DC3s were cheap to acquire and gasoline was a dime a gallon. Airline Station Agents got paid $160 a month. The fares, which were regulated, were kept artificially low on short hauls but artificially high on long hauls. (Anything and everything was mileage based). So fares were cheaper, roads were crummier, cars weren't as fast, and it was still a big deal to go out to Brownwood and climb on the airliner which would whick you away to your aunt and uncle's house in New Mexico....a great big DC3 which stopped at San Angelo, Big Spring, Midland-Odessa, Hobbs, and carlsbad before depositing you in Roswell.

But alas things have changed a lot since the 1950s....or the 1970s. Fuel is not a dime a gallon anymore. Airline employees take umbrage to being paid less than minimum wage  Smile . The bottom line is your idea, while neat in theory, would not work in practice. And it's a shame.

If A&M/Bryan-College Station were located 180 miles in the othe direction (assuming we could do something with Oklahoma...come to think of it, we did).....then you would probably would have seen the ugly planes there and we wouldn;t be having this conversation. But the proximity to the major metro areas kills local traffic, extreme short hauls are ridiculously expensive to provide, so I guess you are faced with having to continue planting your butt in the seat of your vehicle and hauling it via Caldwell & Dime Box.

Hope that answered some of your questions. If not my e mail is Hearnehorn@hotmail.com
 
jhooper
Posts: 5560
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2001 8:27 pm

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Tue Nov 19, 2002 8:04 am

Thanks, TxAgKuwait. You just earned a spot on my respected user list for your answer! Would I still have to pay the security fees and the rest of the taxes for such an operation? Are 19-passenger planes subject to security screening requirements?
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
 
sleekjet
Posts: 2006
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2001 1:35 am

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Tue Nov 19, 2002 12:04 pm

TxAgKuwait, to a fellow Texan, thanks for about the most interesting answer I've ever read on this board. Excellent analysis, insightful history. Kudos, sir.
II Cor. 4:17-18
 
sccutler
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RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Tue Nov 19, 2002 12:19 pm

TxAgQ8 having (again) disposed of the myth of Aggie inferiority, there is little to add. But, on a historical note, recall about twelve or so years ago, someone gave a go to a second-tier market regional, hubbing at Austin (AUS), also (I think) using 1900's- it was (IIRC) Conquest Airlines. They served (f'rinstance) AUS-Tyler.

Failed fairly quickly.

It's hard to challenge Texans and their Suburbans (and the DQ's along the way).

Interesting idea, though.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
 
sllevin
Posts: 3312
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 1:57 pm

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Tue Nov 19, 2002 12:50 pm

I'm fairly sure Conquest was flying Metro's, but from a role standpoint, it's the same basics as the 1900.

How about just operating DC-3's instead?

Steve
 
User avatar
Fly-K
Posts: 2991
Joined: Thu May 04, 2000 4:26 pm

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Tue Nov 19, 2002 4:56 pm

Conquest first had 1900s, then Metro:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt


Which routes did Conquest and later Austin Express serve?
What's the reasoning behind the triangular rouing CLL-AUS-SAN-CLL?

Konstantin
(not a Texan, but having lived in Bastrop outside AUS for a year, 13 years ago)
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
 
Lt-AWACS
Posts: 2120
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2002 2:40 am

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Tue Nov 19, 2002 9:15 pm

Fly-K
I know conquest served Austin to San Angelo through the mid-90s ( iflew it once) and Austin-Nacogdoches in the late 80's (that service didn't last very long). Trying to remember the old schedule I know they served Beaumont and Corpus Christi, Abilene as well plus some others. When I get back to the States I have an old schedule I can hook you up with just email me via my profile.

And I have to agree, having driven every major road in Texas more than once- driving is the much better alternative (and more entertaining) unless maybe you are heading to El Paso or Amarillo but then why go there in the first place  Wink/being sarcastic

Ciao and Hook 'em Horns,
Lt-AWACS
Io voglio fica ogni giorni da mia bella moglie!
 
elwood64151
Posts: 2410
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2002 10:22 am

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Tue Nov 19, 2002 9:42 pm

Here's an idea:

How about Helecopters service? A 10 pax helecopter operating some of the same routes would fly a little slower, but might be able to fill themselves every day, since the helecopters add the convencience of traveling directly from, say, downtown Houston or Dallas and Fort Worth to CLL, and vice versa. I'm not sure what type of chopper would do best, but it's an idea, anyway.

Chow
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
 
doug_or
Posts: 3118
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2000 9:55 am

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Wed Nov 20, 2002 12:54 am

Unfourtunately, rotary wing operations multiply the price.
When in doubt, one B pump off
 
Lt-AWACS
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Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2002 2:40 am

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Wed Nov 20, 2002 10:18 am

Also the Downtown Houston Heliport Closed a couple of Years ago. Which might be a better destination for some than the airports themselves.

The Longrange regional (TxDOT) plans have more rail service inmind anyway (i.e Houston-Bryan etc) and since Southwest doesn't serve all those smaller towns they wont be able to kill the plans- infact it could help their loads by providing easier access to the airports to more rural customers.

Ciao and Hook 'em Horns,
Lt-AWACS

Io voglio fica ogni giorni da mia bella moglie!
 
mfricke
Posts: 274
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2001 3:04 pm

RE: Central Texas / Regional Airline Idea

Wed Nov 20, 2002 11:20 am

Not only was there Conquest Airlines, which folded in the later 1990's, but there also was Austin Express, which existed for about 1 1/2 years a few years ago. They flew a triangular route from Austin to Tyler to Beaumont and back. They advertised future service to Corpus Christi, but they didn't make it that long. Remember, both these airlines failed when Austin was experiencing the dot-com boom, so now that business is slower, I don't think things have improved. Plus, I have friends who drive regularly from Longview (GGG) to DFW, and think nothing of it. I think the days of small cities having airline service is gone, except if they are counting on Big Sky to come on in.
ONT - Southern California's Ontario!