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Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:00 am

With all of the fuss over Southwest at DAL, and now their proposal to move from SEA to BFI and building a brand new terminal in the process, it makes me wonder...hmmmm... Could an airline just go out and either buy the property to build their own airport, or perhaps buy an already existing airport? I'm sure there are a million details involved, but let's cut to the chase and ask the basic question... Could it be done? I'm sure an airline would love to control an entire airport, lock, stock and barrel. Southwest, American or any other carrier that chose this option (albeit an expensive one) could then essentially do as they please. Any considered thoughts on this matter?

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B742
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:10 am

Yep, Bangkok Airways at Koh Samui and Sukhothai airport in Thailand.

They run the airports, only Bangkok Airways operate to these two airports!

I think they also run Trat, but I'm not sure!

http://www.bangkokair.com/en/about/airport.php

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richardw
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:16 am

Airports make money by making gates available to Airlines, a variety of airlines makes filling the slots at gates possible. If a single airline ran an airport it would have to organise itself to fill most slots available at the gates to avoid dealing wih competing airlines.

Shareholders would be confused about what they are investing in, an Airport operator or an airline?
 
DAYflyer
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:22 am

Sure they could...It would be a great idea if you could afford to do it in a place like LA or NY where you could monopolize the market, but it is too cost prohibitive and I'm not sure our anti-trust laws allow for that sort of thing.
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Boeing7E7
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:24 am

Technically? Yes.

In reality? No.

Existing airports are already public use. For a private airport the level of investement is in the billions. They could not preclude other operators from serving the airport, which makes a private investment a public one. It opens up a can of worms over leases and landing fees which is why it in affect, can't be done. Then one has to wonder if they could ever get the money to do it in the first place. A new airport with a single runway and a reasonable number of gates would cost about $2.5 Billion.

[Edited 2005-07-22 18:31:25]
 
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:28 am

Quoting Richardw (Reply 2):
Shareholders would be confused about what they are investing in, an Airport operator or an airline?

If (and that's a big "IF") the overall plan were to be a money maker, I'm not convinced that the average investor would be terribly concerned as to exactly what the business was called or how the business was classified as long as it consistently made money...legally.

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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:32 am

Quoting Boeing7E7 (Reply 4):
The level of investement is in the billions. They could not preclude other operators from serving the airport, which makes a private investment a public one.

Not doubting you for a moment, but just trying to learn more about the subject, why would an airline that built an airport for it's own use be forced to allow other airlines access to the facility?

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stlgph
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:36 am

Quoting Boeing7E7 (Reply 4):
A new airport with a single runway and a reasonable number of gates would cost about $2.5 Billion.

is that including the property buy outs? if it's a private investment, you know everyone is going to be asking top dollar. and with NIMBY's, good luck finding that much space all in one get go.

Quoting Boeing7E7 (Reply 4):
Then one has to wonder if they could ever get the money to do it in the first place.

or the money to keep it running. they'd undercharge themselves on terminal leases, gate/tarmac fees, and undercharge on landing fees. they'd have to get every seat filled and take their $4.42 from PFC's and run with that as far as possible.
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FA4B6
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:37 am

Quoting Richardw (Reply 2):
Airports make money by making gates available to Airlines, a variety of airlines makes filling the slots at gates possible. If a single airline ran an airport it would have to organise itself to fill most slots available at the gates to avoid dealing wih competing airlines.

Shareholders would be confused about what they are investing in, an Airport operator or an airline?

Couldnt an airline [if not already the case] form a parent company and make the airline and the airport subsidaries of the parent company?
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afay1
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:39 am

If one talks about state-run airlines, technically, many of the world's airports were built by/for one carrier. In addition, there are several airports in Russia under construction by/for one carrier...
 
CHRISBA777ER
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:40 am

Dubai airport and EK are AFAIK owned by the same Govt ministry - technically EK's management own Dubai airport. I reckon thats their secret - they pay almost nothing in landing fees etc - and charge the other airlines a fortune to use it.

Thats my theory.
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seachaz
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:40 am

While not a passenger airline, Airborne Express (now DHL) bought Clinton County Air Force Base (now Airborne Airpark KILN) in Wilmington, Ohio and became the first airline in history to own and operate an airport.
 
PanHAM
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:42 am

There are examples of course. Take Airborne Express and Wilmington OH. Out in the middle of nowhere, relatively cheap labour and dedicated facility with nobody to share.

Another example is Dubai, I am not bashing EK, but the chairman of EK is also chairman of the Government body that oversees airports etc..

In the former East Germany, Interflug did run the airports as well and that is/was the case in all Communist ruled countries. The chairman of Interflug did not come in a business suit but in a Uniform. Real German indeed, a thing the western part did shed some 50 years ago.

In our modern world of outsourcing it does not make sense. As a corporation you would not want to have that asset on your books, an airline is an asset based busibess already. Buy as much as you can from other souces and on short and flexible contracts. That's the way to make money.
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AAgent
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:45 am

Although it would be a tremendous initial investment, it would seem possible that owning at least your major hub could be a wise investment...assuming you would have complete control of the airport.

SEAchaz, is Airborne Express forced to allow other carriers access to their facility (with the exceptions of emergencies, of course.)

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Goldenshield
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:50 am

While technically not airports, Pan American built their own terminals and related items for their south Pacific service back in the 30's and 40.
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Boeing7E7
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:53 am

Quoting AAgent (Reply 6):
Not doubting you for a moment, but just trying to learn more about the subject, why would an airline that built an airport for it's own use be forced to allow other airlines access to the facility?

In 2000 a fundamental change was made on how the FAA views the use of airports for commercial passenger service. As a result, they issued an order defining Exclusive Rights provisions, which are tied to bond issuance, FAA support of the facility and a bazillion other pieces of typical bureaucratic headaches. It's incredibly complex, is confusing, and has more loopholes than you can shake a stick at. Mainly because agencies brought together the plans independently vs. a group think. Some provisions conflict with others and no one has done anything to correct it, and I suspect no one will. In a nutshell, however, the overriding factor is access to the facility by anyone who can provide passenger service to ensure competition.

Below is an AC about it, but it has certain provisions that are in conflict with other orders, but it basically defines the rules of equal access. It gives a piss poor example of an exemption by using an FBO. Other provisions on competition in other documents conflict with this issue because the AC doesn't address airline competition.

http://www.faa.gov/arp/ACs/5190-5a1.pdf

Whether an airline can do this is really unrealistic. You have to find land, or an airport, build it and get the FAA to support you in the endeavourer. No airline would be able to build a facility without some sort of Federal Assistance be it grants or authority of bond issuance. It's just too much investment.

One of the reasons so many issues conflict, is that no one thought about this potential - an Airline building an airport (imagine that, the FAA not thinking of something). They looked at it from the position of a corporation owning it's own airport on company land for GA use, such as is the case at Alliance airport in Dallas. It's owned and operated by Hillwood (One of Ross Perots companies). The ABX/DHL facility is another. Even they are required to provide equal access to anyone who seeks access. They are industrial facilities, so the issue over equal access for passenger service is not a driving force.

Where a commercial carrier runs into a wall is how do they insure a level playing field. Who is the neutral party? This is why commercial passenger airports are owned and operated by a municipality of some sort. They become the neutral party to ensure that equal access.

[Edited 2005-07-22 18:56:57]
 
seachaz
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:54 am

Not sure on how/if they share with competitors, just recalled that bit of information from a business class I had back in college.
 
DAYflyer
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:57 am

Quoting SEAchaz (Reply 11):
While not a passenger airline, Airborne Express (now DHL) bought Clinton County Air Force Base (now Airborne Airpark KILN) in Wilmington, Ohio and became the first airline in history to own and operate an airport.

Yes, and there is now a big fight over wether or not it falls under the jurisdiction of the Dayton Metro port authority or the new one they (DHL) is trying to create in Clinton county. It has turned out to be a bg mess.
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AAgent
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:59 am

I noticed in the first paragraph of the FAA document to which you linked that it states "airports that have accepted federal assistance must comply...". However unlikely, should an airline be able to secure a facility without the use of federal assistance, would they then have complete control over such a facility?

Respectfully,
AAgent
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Boeing7E7
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:00 am

Quoting DAYflyer (Reply 17):
Yes, and there is now a big fight over wether or not it falls under the jurisdiction of the Dayton Metro port authority or the new one they (DHL) is trying to create in Clinton county. It has turned out to be a bg mess.

Excellent point of the kind of mess the FAA has created by not putting together a comprehensive and complete (even understandable) definition of Exclusive Use.
 
Boeing7E7
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:05 am

Quoting AAgent (Reply 18):
I noticed in the first paragraph of the FAA document to which you linked that it states "airports that have accepted federal assistance must comply...". However unlikely, should an airline be able to secure a facility without the use of federal assistance, would they then have complete control over such a facility?

Well that's the hitch. Some projects associated with a proposal require some sort of assistance, such as roadway access which cannot be paid for by the airport sponsor. The local municipality has to provide the access to the airport boundary and unless the municipality has an outpouring of cash (which is never), they issue bonds. Same thing goes for utilities and everything else required to support the airport. In fact, just being connected to the sewer or a Highway usually ties the airport to some level of Federal Investment.

[Edited 2005-07-22 19:10:02]
 
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:05 am

Boeing7E7,

I noticed in the first paragraph of the FAA document to which you linked that it states "airports that have accepted federal assistance must comply with the statutory prohibition on exclusive rights". However unlikely the case may be, should an airline be able to secure a facility without the use of federal assistance, would that airline then have reasonably complete control over such a facility?

Respectfully,
AAgent

(Oops, sorry! I was trying to edit the post but ended up with what amounts to a duplicate.)

[Edited 2005-07-22 19:07:03]
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:19 am

Quoting Boeing7E7 (Reply 20):
The local municipality has to provide the access to the airport boundary and unless the municipality has an outpouring of cash (which is never), they issue bonds.

Perhaps a hefty donation made to the municipality by the airline holding corporation...a donation large enough to cover the costs of access, etc.

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BCAL
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:26 am

Quoting Boeing7E7 (Reply 4):
Technically? Yes.

In reality? No.

Wll it is going back to the 60s but Silver City Airlines, who operated a car ferry service between England and France, were the sole operators at and owners of Lydd Airport in Kent and, for a period, Le Touget in France.
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Boeing7E7
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:29 am

Quoting BCAL (Reply 23):
Wll it is going back to the 60s but Silver City Airlines, who operated a car ferry service between England and France, were the sole operators at and owners of Lydd Airport in Kent and, for a period, Le Touget in France.

We're talking about the US rules on the issue.
 
RogerThat
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:32 am

Interesting ideAA, but airlines don't even own airplanes these days (stretching the truth) for the same reasons that Wal-Greens doesn't own drugstores.

If anyone has got a spare million under the mattress, you can build a drugstore and lease it to Wal-Greens for 70,000 per year. They will even bump up the rent every few years. Why do they do this? To free up capital to open up even more stores where they will make even more money selling drugs, ice cream and beauty products.

If an airline made enough money to build an airport, instead they should reinvest it to grow the airline, or return it to the shareholders in low-tax dividends.

That said, back in the old days, the railroads built and operated their own stations, until the union station concept emerged.
 
BCAL
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:34 am

Quoting Boeing7E7 (Reply 24):
We're talking about the US rules on the issue

My apologies, but non US airports have been mentioned in many posts above.

 embarrassed 
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Boeing7E7
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:35 am

Quoting BCAL (Reply 26):
My apologies, but non US airports have been mentioned in many posts above.

No worries. Hell, you have to jump a billion hurdles just to contract out an airport over hear as IND has done with BA.
 
N62NA
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:44 am

Well, the way AA has been bullying the local government down here, it's as if they own MIAA!

[Edited 2005-07-22 19:45:09]
 
ciaomc2002
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 3:58 am

Technically, I suppose they could. When Liverpool Airport was rebuilt and turned into Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Easyjet wanted to have a whole terminal to itself. If that would have went ahead, they would have had a controlling stake in the airport
 
PanHAM
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 4:12 am

Well,the headline does not restrict the discussion to US airports.

Terminal 2 in Munich is a joint venture between Munich airport and Lufthansa.
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FlyPIJets
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 4:29 am

The answer to the OP's question is yes, an airline can go out, purchase land and build their own airport. At least in the U.S. they can.

Now there are catches to all to that, the airport has to be certified by the FAA, if the airline plans to use it for scheduled pax service. There would be zoning issues with the locality, once word got out, all the NIMBY's come out.

But there could be some good examples of where that could happen. The second, cargo airport for Las Vegas comes to mind. UPS or FedEx might want to have a go at it. (Nevada has no inventory tax, so warehousing is coming a big business in NV).
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LV
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 5:20 am

Wasn't MCI originally built and owned by TW as a maintenance and training facility when KC's main airport was still MKC?
 
AAgent
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 5:25 am

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 30):
Well,the headline does not restrict the discussion to US airports



Quoting BCAL (Reply 26):
My apologies, but non US airports have been mentioned in many posts above

Although I must admit that I am primarily interested in U.S. airports, please feel free to include international examples in this discussion. Who knows, I'm likely to learn something interesting. I look forward to hearing from a.netters from around the world.

Respectfully,
AAgent
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Boeing7E7
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 5:26 am

Quoting LV (Reply 32):
Wasn't MCI originally built and owned by TW as a maintenance and training facility when KC's main airport was still MKC?

One of the many reasons the regulations were changed.
 
SKA380
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 6:48 pm

Isn't Fraport, who runs FRA partially owned by Lufthansa?
 
skibum9
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 10:18 pm

Quoting DAYflyer (Reply 17):
Yes, and there is now a big fight over wether or not it falls under the jurisdiction of the Dayton Metro port authority or the new one they (DHL) is trying to create in Clinton county. It has turned out to be a bg mess.

DAYflyer, can you expand upon this a little more. Is the thought that because DAY provides ATC services to ILN, they should have authority? Or is it something else?
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Alessandro
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 10:36 pm

Sure, Ryanair runs Skavsta a former airbase south of Stockholm.
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PanHAM
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sat Jul 23, 2005 11:09 pm

Quoting SKA380 (Reply 35):
Isn't Fraport, who runs FRA partially owned by Lufthansa?

No,LH has no shares in Fraport, It is a publicly listed company with major stockholders the City of Frankfurt, the Sate of Hesse and the Federal republic of Germany. Shares are traded on the market, anyone can buy.

The three majore share holders will gradually retreat, with the Federal Republic leading that way. The city and the state will retain some shares.

As mentioned with Munich, LH has no shares in that airport as well, but they are co-owners of Terminal 2.
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backfire
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:39 am

In Russia it's not unusual for an airport and its major airline customer to be part of the same enterprise.
 
DeltaWings
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:56 am

There is one in England; I forgot where though, but it belongs to TUI. And only Airlines of TUI fly there.
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SWALoveField
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:15 am

YES. Doesn't AA own DFW?

 spin 

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DAYflyer
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:37 am

Quoting Skibum9 (Reply 36):
DAYflyer, can you expand upon this a little more. Is the thought that because DAY provides ATC services to ILN, they should have authority? Or is it something else?

It's a control issue. There were some articles about it in the Dayton Daily News a couple weeks back. Do a google search on it.

As far as I can tell, the sqauble began at that level of the ATC services and has escilated over who has the control over the bidding out of contracts for service and improvements to the physical airport itself and the required bond issues.
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petertenthije
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:50 am

Some airports own(ed) airlines. For instance London City has a small biz jet company and the company that owns Niederrhein airport also owned VBird when it was still around. So I suppose other way round should be possible too.
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AAgent
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:36 am

Quoting Swalovefield (Reply 41):
YES. Doesn't AA own DFW?

Now that would be too awesome, even for AMR...but a very nice fantasy, no doubt.

Best Regards,
AAgent
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MikeTheActuary
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 4:09 am

Now that they're profitable, maybe AA can buy...and close...DAL  Wink
 
AAgent
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 4:27 am

Quoting MikeTheActuary (Reply 45):
Now that they're profitable, maybe AA can buy...and close...DAL

I wonder if some of the top dogs at AMR have considered that option?

Interesting...

Best Regards,
AAgent
War Eagle!
 
planesailing
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 4:32 am

Quoting Alessandro (Reply 37):
Sure, Ryanair runs Skavsta a former airbase south of Stockholm.

Ryanair also wanted to open a new airport in Dublin when they had a massive dispute with Aer Rianta over airport charges.
 
PanHAM
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RE: Could An Airline Build Or Buy An Entire Airport?

Sun Jul 24, 2005 4:43 am

Quoting DeltaWings (Reply 40):
There is one in England; I forgot where though, but it belongs to TUI. And only Airlines of TUI fly there.

That is Coventry, but it is open to anyone. Atlantiuc Airlines, a cargo operator, is a long time ternant there.

Another one which is owned by a group which also holds stake in an airline is Manston or Kent International as they call it. Plane something, and the airline is EUJet.

Quoting MikeTheActuary (Reply 45):
Now that they're profitable, maybe AA can buy...and close...DAL

I would not call 59 Millions profit in a quarter "profitable", it's what is called over here a "black zero". You have to put that in relation to the turnover and then it's hardly the peanuts SWA serve their passengers. I doubnt that AMR has cash to waste.
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