PHX Flyer
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Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 4:36 am

In an earlier thread someone posted an article on the efforts to re-open the old Detroit City Airport for scheduled passenger service: http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/1683486/

With all passenger service ceased for years, it will be difficult to redirect passenger flow back to DET. The only incentive that usually works is low fares. Hence it would in ll likelihood have to be a LCC that opens up a base there. There would have to be a sufficient number of routes available to make it worthwhile for any potential DET passenger to change their flying habits. It wouldn't suffice, if let's say AirTran opened a single route to Atlanta.

IMHO, the only potential candidate at this time is ATA, and only if they follow through with their 100-seat aircraft order. In this case, I could see an ATA focus city operation at DET, with nonstops to the important East Coast markets (BOS, LGA, PHL, DCA) along with frequent shuttle flights to MDW for both O&D traffic and connections to destinations that would be out of reach from DET. This operation could be further supported by some ATA connection service to other Midwestern cities. With this sort of integration in a route network, DET might be able to attract a sufficient number of pax to make it work, especially with ATA's low fares and quality product. Besides, they do have a stronghold in the Midwest and are able to make a stand even against Southwest. DET would give them the opportunity to build up an operation without immediate competition and at a fraction of the cost of any service into DTW.

Also, for ATA this would make sense, because even at their main hub at MDW future growth is limited due to lack of gates (and slots?). Therefore, establishing a circle of focus cities around MDW linked by point-to-point routes would be an alternative to a single Midwestern hub, and it would offer more flying options for every regular ATA customer (unlike the STL-centric operation of the late TWA, which made even passengers from Kansas City backtrack in order to catch a flight to the West Coast - if they didn't opt for different carrier right away, that is).
What do think?
 
AA7573E
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 4:41 am

I think you need to put the pipe down, and separate reality from a fun idea. There is no way ATA could simultaneously find the cash to buy the 100 seat fleet you mentioned, and open a new FOCUS station from the ground up. That sort of money does not grow on trees. So no, I don't think this idea has a chance in hell of getting 'off the ground'.
See you up front!
 
EZYcrew
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 4:58 am

I remember when Pro Air operated a small hub at DET.
They advertised DET as a convenient downtown airport. However I don't know if noise and space restrictions are a problem there in case an airline wants to have a (mini-)hub.
 
luv2fly
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 5:05 am

Unlikely as ATA/TZ right now does not have the money or resources to do this venture. That being said if, and that is a big IF, the airline that does come in most likely will benefit from some sweet incentives to start up service, and also will most likely be the only carrier operating from this airport.
You can cut the irony with a knife
 
OPNLguy
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 5:45 am

Personally, I don't think any major air carrier will be able to make DET "work" until such time as the city makes make runway improvements. Runway 15-33 is short (about 5,100 feet, IIRC) and has cemetaries at each end that make extending the runway all the more problematic. (Not only would you have to fight the usual "NIMBYs", but you'd also have to convince lots of folks that it was "OK" to move Grannie's final resting place, which I dare say most folks would vehemently oppose). The runway is also narrow (100 feet versus the standard 150 feet) which can entail some restrictive (and thus more easily exceeded) crosswind limitations. If it results in a max 5-knot crosswind limitation and a "normal" runway has 10, you'll be diverting more often at the place with the 5-knot limitation.

There was some talk about building a parallel to 15-33, but there was a railroad line that would have to be re-located, and doing do wouldn't have been possible due to it requiring too sharp a new rail curve to line-up with the existing railroad bridge over I-94. Replacing the railroad bridge with a new one was, of course, exceptionally expensive, and therefore not a viable option.

Somebody with RJs might make some use of the airport (and the new terminal that SWA built and later left behind), but I doubt you'll see 737s, Airbii, or MD80s in there until improvements are made.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
flyboy7974
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 5:49 am

why dont they try det-mdw with their saab fleet from chicago express, think, business center to business center, pass the delays at ord, and downtown to downtown in no time
 
EZYcrew
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 5:52 am

OPNLguy :

Pro Air used 737-400's at DET, therefore the airport is not limited to RJ's.
 
PHX Flyer
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 5:59 am

I agree that a runway extension would be a major project, and probably not worth the effort and money. I think the B717 and the Saab 340 would be ideal for a variety of short-haul routes out of DET.
 
OPNLguy
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 7:09 am

>>>Pro Air used 737-400's at DET, therefore the airport is not limited to RJ's.

SWA used to run 737-200s, -300s, and -500s in there as well, but I never said that DET was limited to RJs...

The point that I was trying to make is that the current runway length/width and associated performance restrictions make DET an unpalatable place for those airlines who want to run 737s and similar aircraft in/out of there on flights of any signifcant distance. RJs might make better use of DET's limitations than can 737s and other similar aircraft.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
dtwclipper
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 7:16 am

Oh, just let DET rest where it is, only Sonny Elliott is interested in DET.

There maybe people in Macomb County and the "pointes" who gripe about the drive to DTW, but Oakland County is very happy with DTW, thank you.

I love Detroit, and Southeast Michigan, but DET is a mess, and Detroit has greater things to worry about, like the superbowl and the all star game.

Compare New York Air, the Airline that works for your Business
 
ouboy79
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 8:54 am

Saabs into DET? Where do you propose pulling them from? They have no spares so they'll need to pull them from a current route. They already eliminated their weakest routes for new flights to FWA and the IND-MDW shuttle. ATA already serves Detroit well enough through FNT and TOL...both very strong cities for the airline.
 
burnsie28
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 9:23 am

Either way, i dont think it would work, not just because of the airport itself but the surroundings of the airport, what I mean by that is apparently that part of Detroit is not exactly the place where you would want to turn your back.
 
PHX Flyer
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 9:57 am

<< ... apparently that part of Detroit is not exactly the place where you would want to turn your back. >>

You could say the same thing about Houston Hobby Airport, and yet it is a thriving airport.
 
PJ295
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 9:58 am

I doubt DET would see much expansion for all of the reasons listed above. Isn't FNT a good alternative for the the northern burbs? I know it cant be too much of a hassle for those living in Oakland county.
 
OPNLguy
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 10:01 am

>>>You could say the same thing about Houston Hobby Airport, and yet it is a thriving airport.

You could, but I think you'd be wrong.  Big grin

Around HOU, all I'd want is a 9mm; around DET, I'd want at least a twin .50, or maybe a bazooka...  Big grin
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
A340Spotter
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 11:26 am

OPNLGuy,

Crosswind limitation we had at Pro Air was 15kt for the 737-400...dry runway conditions...Oh what fun it was during the winter when you had crosswinds daily!

Jeffrey
"Irregardless, it's a Cat III airplane, we don't need an alternate!"
 
smcmac32msn
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 11:29 am

>>>I'd want at least a twin .50, or maybe a bazooka...

My secret weapon.................... 60 mm cannon on an Abrams Tank. I wouldn't want to be the guy with the 9 mm that I pull up to and center on his noggin!
Hey Obama, keep the change! I want my dollar back.
 
luv2fly
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 11:33 am

The area surrounding numerous other airports leave a lot to be desired, not just DET. Miami quickly comes to mind for one.
You can cut the irony with a knife
 
JAFA
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 11:43 am

Better question is why would ATA want make DET work? There are better markets ripe for cherry picking. Besides NWA price matches already with SWA and other discounters in thier markets. NWA double dips, matching LCC's on price and with "Legacy" carriers using alliances, upgrades, worldperks, price etc. Thats why they always have a high load factor. ATA is new to the scheduled service game and floundering financially, NWA is a formidable competitor.
DET is in a seedy area, most suburbanites don't want to drive there. I have to pass through that area once a week and I don't care for it.
 
OPNLguy
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 11:53 am

>>>Crosswind limitation we had at Pro Air was 15kt for the 737-400...dry runway conditions...Oh what fun it was during the winter when you had crosswinds daily!

I hear ya!

We had one (think it was a -200) do a high-speed abort there once, and they used every inch...

I don't miss the place at all....
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
sllevin
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 11:57 am

If ATA wasn't willing to even stay in the SFO-EWR market for 6 months, there's no way they can open DET. Nowhere near the resources and/or commitment.

Steve
 
PHX Flyer
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 12:14 pm

<< There are better markets ripe for cherry picking. >>

Like which?

ATA competes every day with Southwest at MDW, and with two legacy carriers in the same town, and - I must say - they do so very successfully. I don't really think you have a point there.
ATA is in the midst of building a worldwide network, with the Midwest as their home turf. Currently they do not serve Detroit, even though they certainly will sooner rather then later. At DET theywould not face immediate competition. I think everyone agrees that DET and DTW have slightly different catchment areas, and for some folks DET would probably be the better alternative. I didn't get the impression that the ProAir flights were always empty. I am not suggesting that ATA build a major hub to challenge NW at DTW, but rather a gradual build-up of may be 30-40 daily flights over a 3-5 year period, and not until they have the appropriate aircraft at hand.
 
A340Spotter
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 1:01 pm

PHX Flyer,

Pro Air flights to ATL-MCO were near full every day. PHL was just a disaster and if it wasn't for Chrysler wanting us to fly there so they'd keep NW in check, we would have pulled out quite fast. EWR/LGA was pretty good loadwise, MKE was great to start and then fell off when NW upped their flights. MDW was good most of the time, IND not so good, but with GM support it was okay.

Jeffrey
"Irregardless, it's a Cat III airplane, we don't need an alternate!"
 
flyinryan99
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Fri Aug 06, 2004 10:50 pm

ATA does have a great following out of the DTW area because of all of the charters they used to fly out of there. BUT....ATA has really established themselves well in the area via FNT and TOL. Why would they want to go head to head with WN, AA, UA, and big Red? They have no competetion on the FNT route and only AA on the TOL route. I have heard throughout the company that they want to change their focus a little bit to the way AirTran used to do business - find a niche in the smaller markets. *IF* the 717s or 190s were to get ordered and come online, I think you'd see TOL and FNT pick those up really quickly since FNT has the highest load factor of any station and TOL is in the top 5 yielding stations. I just think going up to the Detroit area would be murder in times like this. IMO just stick to what is working well and try small measures to increase revenue where it's needed. I think it would be nice to get a 737 - 800 in both these cities...but in reality...Saabs are all that we're going to see.

Ryan
 
PHX Flyer
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Sat Aug 07, 2004 6:40 am

<< ATA does have a great following out of the DTW area >>

I have no doubt about that, and that's exactly why ATA should thoroughly assess ALL options to establish a stronger presence there.
It is great to hear that their other Michigan destinations are doing fine, but these are markets of their own. Nobody from the Detroit metropolitan area would drive all the way out to Flint in order to catch an ATA turboprop flight to Midway.
If it is done right, DET can become a viable alternative for a large enough crowd to make it work, just like there are people in Chicago who prefer Midway over O'Hare. ATA can (and does) compete with Southwest by offering the better product, and with all others by offering the lower fares.

Sadly, I heard today that ATA's B717 plans have been shelved for the time being, as Boeing is pondering a shutdown of the B717 line. It looks like we may have to wait for a while until ATA moves ahead with their plans for a smaller jet aircraft.
 
jjbiv
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Sat Aug 07, 2004 7:52 am

Folks drive from Detroit everyday to both FNT and TOL to fly on ATA.

joe
 
KarlB737
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Sun Aug 08, 2004 1:20 am

What about Comair or Midwest Connect to DET?
 
stirling
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Sun Aug 08, 2004 1:44 am

Sometimes you just have to step back and take a good long look at something before you can begin to appreciate the gravity of the situation.
DET is one such situation.
I have yet to meet an airport I didn't like, (well maybe LTN!) so I am not one for closing the doors on any facility. But DET has all the earmarks of an airport that should probably just go away.

I have a friend at WN, said the DET enviroment was not a good one. He mentioned something about obstacles at both ends of the runway, forget what they were.....? Anyway, DET Makes HOU look like Disneyland! (His words not mine) For the northern 'burbs, FNT is probably right now filling this niche. As for the southern 'burbs, DET is further than DTW, making them closer to TOL. (Not aware of pax numbers there)

How long would it take the air-traveling public to be "Re-trained" into using DET? If WN couldn't do it, I imagine it can't be done cost-effectively, since they are one of the best in situations like that.
I hate to say this, but forget about substantial airline service at DET. I would assume that the view in many an airline CEO's brain, is that Detroit passengers for the moment are adequately served by DTW operations.

Maybe ProAir should have used smaller aircraft?
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KarlB737
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Sun Aug 08, 2004 1:52 am

ProAir was looking into acquiring some Saab 2000's to supplement it's 734s.
 
ouboy79
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Sun Aug 08, 2004 3:18 am

Comair is requiring Detroit to put money up before they'll serve the route to CVG. This has been made VERY clear since they have applied with the City of Detroit for a chunk of the SCASDPP funds the last two years. They were denied last year....this year we should know very soon.

Unfortunately this makes it quite clear that airlines don't see any profit in DET...so it is going to take the city to guarantee a profit for the first 12-18 months before an airline will land there again.
 
A340Spotter
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RE: Could ATA Make DET Work?

Sun Aug 08, 2004 3:39 pm

KarlB737,

The Saab 2000s for Pro Air were going to be run for GM as they got their hands slapped (and their wallets) for running those 2000s and charging Delphi employees to fly on them between DTW-Anderson, IN and Kokomo, IN. So they (GM) came over to us to see if we would do it for them. Seemed like a good idea as we would run the 3rd one to Indy and put the 737 elsewhere..
But we would have had to get the 2000s certified to run Part 121 in the US as they aren't certified to do so and that was going to cost at least a million dollars to do that, which at the time, Pro Air didn't have (insert never had joke here, okay).
The GM ones were private and running under Part 91 (or 135, I do not know for sure) and have since been sold to Hendrick Motorsports.

Comair may wait a decade to get the funds from DET, just like we did at P9.

Jeffrey
"Irregardless, it's a Cat III airplane, we don't need an alternate!"