This thread is not meant to draw issues to just one airport, but to get the overall views of people who various situations. Below I've listed an example on a particular city and its performance over the last 4 months and then compare it to similar sized airports, in small cities, and how it compares. What I'd like to get is feedback from people on what you opinion is on how airport management should be judge by performance and when is it time to seek a change.
The airport up for exhibit is of course, KROC's favorite city on the planet - Toledo (TOL
Located at http://flytoledo.com/compare/
I've presented a comparison of the airport to Flint and Akron-Canton as well as Detroit, Cleveland and Ft. Wayne for air fare purposes only. The existing management team took control of TOL
back in April of 2000 - the Airport Director was promoted from within the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority (which handles railroad, airport, and seaport among other things) and the new position of Air Service Manager was created by the hiring of a former travel agent.
Since 2000 several things have come to pass, not all the managements fault...but some has to rest squarely on their shoulders. The pull out US Airways mainline and later all regional jet service, the pull out of AirTran, Northwest has gone from 10 to 4 now back to 5 daily flights, American from 7 to 4, the arrival of ATA Connection, the indefinite delay on the new control tower and cold storage facility, and so on. They have also made decisions that have delayed the setup of a new FIDS system, attempted to penalize airlines for moving gates - when the Port left them no choice, attempted to close down the entire western wing of the terminal so they wouldn't have to upgrade it (there are currently 2 airlines in it now and will have 3 when the east ramp is closed for repairs), and the failure to follow through on work requests and keeping the building a healthy and safe environment to work in - if you look at the airline operations areas you will see plenty of water stains, holes, peeling paint, etc.
Other disturbing decisions have arose through various discussions one on one where comments to the tone of 'we are looking to raise load factors, even if it means cutting service' were made. These further gained significance after the airport director was quoted in the local paper saying:
"January is always the slowest month of the year," Mr. Toth said after he reported the results to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's airport committee Friday. But on the upside, the airlines filled a higher percentage of their seats.
Now two months after those comments are made, the April passenger figures revealed a very disgusting detail - the airport is continuing to lose 15-20% of its customers per month. http://www.flytoledo.com/news/paxnumbers.htm
January was down 16%, Feb down 17%, March down 20%, and April down nearly 21%. For the first three months of the year, TOL
was down around 20% overall. In comparison, Akron-Canton was up 28% and Flint was up 45% in overall passenger figures. Up against FWA
, CAK, and FNT...TOL
had fewer nonstop destinations then the others (8, 8, and 11 respectfully). Overall seats per day were also very different - CAK with 2184, FNT with 2088, FWA
with 1453 and TOL
with 1334. Fares weren't much different...when up against those three plus DTW
wasn't the lowest in any of its top 10 O&D markets. CAK was the lowest overall, while FWA
was the highest - notably due to no low fare competition.
We can complain and use 9/11, Iraq, etc. as excuses for why people aren't flying as much anymore - but when airports such as CAK and FNT can show that growth is possible, one has to look to other reasons for answers. A study done previously on TOL
showed a market leakage of over 60% to surround airports - the most to DTW
. To curb this the TOL
management have embarked on an advertising campaign via radio, tv and print over the last several months. The radio adds have become much more sparse, as have the TV
ads. A little over a month or two ago the airport launched on a new promotion awarding people who fly from the airport with a chance to win a 2 year...LEASE...on a Ford Focus. Besides covering 75% of the windows on the western wall of the check in area with large (sticker-like) signs advertising this...the fan fare has been less than perfect. Airline employees show their dissatisfaction by ignoring the promotion or talking it down and the advertisements on TV
boosting it all showcase airlines & airliners that don't offer passenger service in TOL
- Midway CRJs, US Airways 320s, 747-200s, etc.
My question out to those aviation management majors and industry types...when do you say when to continued decreases and lack of vision? It is obvious the Port, whom awards its President a $6000 bonus in January even though the seaport and airport are struggling, has lost its ability to become a player while its people are interested in maintaining the "good old boy" network and holding the status quo.
Does anyone else have examples on how these situations have been turned around, or are you experiencing the same thing? This discussion is really not meant at focusing on one city - but getting the overall opinions and ideas on how things should be operated and when is a good time to shake things up a bit to keep it fresh.