Mike Boyd addresses that very subject in this weeks edition at http://www.aviationplanning.com
(see "Hot Flash")
We Got An Airline. Now Let's Find Someplace To Go
Great Plains Airlines has announced that it will start service at Mid-America Airport, located in bustling Mascoutah, Illinois, with flights to Washington, Chicago, and Tulsa/Oklahoma City. A perfect match. The airport has been a lost puppy (and lost cause) since it was opened several years ago, billed as the "reliever" to STL
. Great Plains has been lost, too, thrashing around in and out of markets for the last year or so, trying without much luck to find a place for its two Dornier 328JET airliners.
But now the solution has been found. Start service to key destinations like Chicago and Washington from uncongested Mid-America, in a region with more cows than people. You betcha, Great Plains ought to have a field day against the two dozen or so daily flights from STL
to Chicago, not to mention the easy-meat competition represented by the roughly 20 daily departures from STL
to Washington. And both markets have that pushover carrier, Southwest.
This whole thing is shaping up like the story of Fred & Goliath. (Not mentioned in the Scriptures, Fred is one of the dozens of guys Goliath squashed flatter than a tortilla before David came along.) We're also seeing more proof that independent regional airlines are a great way to create tax loss carry-forwards. There just are not many places where market demand will fill such airplanes.
Great Plains, for example, is the outgrowth of the second-coming of Ozark. A couple years ago, some investors in Missouri thought it would be a great idea to recreate the wonders and glories of a bygone airline era. Yes! they exclaimed. We'll bring back Ozark! The white airplanes with the stylized green swallows on the tail. Consumers will be thrilled, the founders declared. There were the expected pronouncements like, "we're bringing back Ozark Airlines and the great service it offered to consumers in the Midwest!... everyone remembers the spirit of Ozark..."
As it turned out, consumers didn't give a rip. Ozark's legacy is about as relevant to Missouri as the Ming Dynasty.
No telling how much long green was spent getting a certificate and establishing the "new Ozark" with two - count them, just two - 32-seat Dornier jets. Then came the part the founders didn't think much about - like, where to fly. That was the first big slap of reality. The second was finding out that consumer excitement ran just slightly ahead of watching paint dry. Like the repeated attempts to resuscitate Pan Am, the unfortunate facts were that a) not many folks really remembered Ozark, b) those that did didn't much care, and most important, c) a name by itself is useless - an airline must fill a market need, not fond memories.
After several months of hard work bringing back the glory of the Ozark name to places like Joplin and Columbia, the airline passed on to other investors who received saleable Oklahoma tax credits in return for promising nonstop service to the East and West Coasts. So much for that, the state has found. They paid to get service to Washington and California. They got Mid-America Airport, gateway to the bright lights of Mascoutah, Illinois.
Mid-America and Great Plains. A real combination. An airport that has no real purpose and an airline looking for a place to go.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.