AZflyer
Topic Author
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Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:49 am

Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:08 am

I grew up in Tucson, AZ - leaving in 1996 and returning just two weeks ago. I was dismayed to discover that while passenger numbers are up at TUS, non-stop service seems to be at an all time low. Even though the metro population is approaching 1mil, no airline seems to be able to maintain service beyond a few key markets (mostly corresponding to hub operations).

I understand that TUS's proximity to PHX is a major reason for such shoddy service at TUS, but PDV has been able to capitalize on its proximity to BOS at the "cheaper option" (thanks, in part, to WN). One would think there is an opportunity for "off the grid" point-to-point service from TUS. I'm not even hoping for more main-line service...just give me a non-stop to PDX, more than one CRJ a day to SFO, or ANYTHING to the northeast.

Can anyone shed some light on the situation at TUS? Future plans?
 
NikonDFW
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 10:58 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:38 am

I lived in TUS from 1978-1987, and I know what you mean about the lack of service. However, like you said PHX does play a little part of the problem, but not too much. Southwest is the #1 carrier at TUS now, and has been expanding bit by bit. recently with a new nonstop to MDW. If anybody does expand with more nonstops to the east coast it will most likely be WN with a flight to BWI, but that is a realitive longshot as of now. WN was looking at TUS-SNA/BUR or ONT nonstops a year or so ago. DFW/ORD is pretty much it for AA. Northwest had a DTW-TUS nonstop for a few weeks during late Dec,03., and I heard they were packed, they could run a A320 to DTW from say Jan-Mar, during their normal winter snowbird schedule. DL could bring CVG-TUS back with something smaller, ie a RJ, the MD-80 was too big for the market.
 
azstar
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed May 11, 2005 5:25 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:41 am

You hit the nail on the head. TUS loses about one third of its passengers to PHX where the yield is very low and airlines make up for it by attempting to drive market share with many flights. If fares from TUS are not common rated with PHX then people will take the 1.5 hour ride up the freeway and get more nonstop choices, to boot. Horizon flew nonstop to PDX and the SFO Bay Area, but it was apparently more lucrative for them to operate F9 Jet Express flights instead, where the risk was lower. Load factors were in the 80% range, as I understand, but Horizon claimed they could never raise the fares high enough to meet their margins. Don't know what the solution is.
 
desertjets
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Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:45 am

I went to college in Tucson and when I flew I mostly flew out of TUS.

Part of the problem is one, as you mentioned, the proximity to PHX. At 2 hours away (a fairly easy, albeit boring drive) with a ton more service fares tend to be lower for more cities. For the leisure/casual traveler a drive to Phoenix is a reasonable option.

2) Tucson is heavily seasonal and leisure driven. You have a lot of sunbird and winter getaway travelers. Some of them with considerable money too, look at all those pricey places down in Green Valley. But this is the kind of traffic that isn't regular enough. They come down, stay for a few months and leave. Same thing, on a smaller scale, for all those lovely resorts.

3) Despite a metro of ~1 million Tucson is poorer and has a weaker business base than many other cities of its size. This doesn't bode well for a ton of air service.

4) Tucson, lets face it, is in the middle of nowhere. Phoenix is the only major city that is within driving distance. San Diego and Los Angeles are both ~8+ hours away. Thus there are a limited few markets for some serious point-to-point service. We're talking about SAN, the entire LA metro, Las Vegas, Denver, maybe Salt Lake City.


On balance TUS has a reasonable level of service and fairly decent airfares. With ~60-70 flights a day, with access to most major markets in the southwest/west coast, and to all major hubs in the US (ex DTW, CLT, and PHL) I'd say they are doing ok. And compared to similar sized cities elsewhere TUS has similar levels of service and destinations.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
NikonDFW
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 10:58 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:51 am

United is starting a nonstop TUS-SFO CRJ soon. WN will always dominate the TUS-west coast market with cheap fares and market share. AS wasn't getting the high yields they needed on the PDX/SJC/SFO RJ flights, but the TUS-SEA nonstop carries beyond traffic up to Alaska and Canada with better yields.
 
jmc1975
Posts: 2884
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2000 10:57 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:58 am

Quoting NikonDFW (Reply 1):
DL could bring CVG-TUS back with something smaller, ie a RJ, the MD-80 was too big for the market.

An RJ from CVG to TUS? Uggghhh. I thought Delta ran ATL-TUS with 738s for a while....I thought that would make a good market. With TWA gone, TUS-STL went by the wayside.

Here's what TUS should look like in a perfect world:

SEA: 2x AS 73G
PDX: 1x AS 73G
SFO: 3x UA CR7
OAK: 1x WN 733/73G
LAX: 6x WN 733/73G, 4x UA CRJ
SNA: 3x WN 733/73G
SAN: 4x WN 733/73G
LAS: 4x WN 733/73G, 4x HP CR9
PHX: 12x HP CR9
SLC: 3x DL CRJ
DEN: 5x UA 733/319, 3x F9 CR7
ABQ: 3x WN 733/73G
ELP: 2x WN 733/73G
DFW: 6x AA M80/738
IAH: 4x CO 733/735
MSP: 2x NW 319
ORD: 3x AA 738, 2x UA 319
MDW: 1x 73G
DTW: 1x NW 319
ATL: 2x DL 738
HMO: 1x AM ERJ
MEX: 1x MX 318
.......
 
NikonDFW
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 10:58 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 5:05 am

Quoting Jmc1975 (Reply 5):
I thought Delta ran ATL-TUS with 738s for a while

DL currently runs 3 daily MD-80's ATL-TUS. DL Connection runs 8 daily CRJ's SLC-TUS, with some of those late night flights heading down to the Skywest maintenance base at TUS. It's the same reason UA Express run's a couple extra late night flights into TUS from LAX, for mx.
 
uswyjer
Posts: 318
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 8:48 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 5:21 am

NW had DTW last winter as a Saturday flight I remember, as well as a CRJ to MEM, no? Does CO still fly TUS-EWR? I'd like to see UA go nonstop from IAD instead of the tag through PHX.. but that's probably a ways off. I'm thinking that at least the seasonal service will pick up more and more as the city expands north towards, Saddlebrook is a ways up there and its marketed as Tucson; and south past Green Valley. I remember even as recent as 2000 that Oro Valley was still pretty undeveloped... and its exploded development wise over the past 5 years. We vacation out in Tucson every March as the temps start to rise Smile and have always gotten decent fares, at least on AA through DFW.
 
exitrowaisle
Posts: 236
Joined: Sat May 06, 2000 2:32 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:17 am

I've lived in Tucson for 7 years, and use the airport quite frequently. I also wrote an article on the history of TUS for Airliners magazine a few years ago (it's the oldest municipally-run airport in the USA). I'd hardly call the service "shoddy." All the major airlines except for US Airways fly to TUS, as well as smaller carriers like Frontier, Alaska, Horizon. As DesertJets said, for a city its size, TUS has decent access to pretty much anywhere...you don't see too many non-hub cities with a lot of point-to-point service. TUS recently completed a major terminal upgrade, including a much needed baggage claim expansion. However, I disagree with DesertJets' claim that Tucson is in the "middle of nowhere." I would consider Tucson a major city in its own right. Also, by car, Phoenix=90 min, San Diego=4.5 hours, El Paso/Juarez=5 hrs, Las Vegas=7 hrs, LA=7 hours. You can even get to the beach in Mexico in under 5 hours. Not a bad location in my opinion!
 
azstar
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed May 11, 2005 5:25 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:46 am

I agree with exitrowaisle. If Tucson actually was "in the middle of nowhere" it would have more air service, not less. Albuquerque is about the same size and has considerably more service because there is no other major hub city within driving distance.
 
MAH4546
Posts: 24521
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 1:44 pm

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:52 am

Quoting Uswyjer (Reply 7):
Does CO still fly TUS-EWR?

No, they don't. Ended in April.
a.
 
AZflyer
Topic Author
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:49 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 8:15 am

Well, I should fess up to my bias: I adore TUS, yearning for the pre-1985 renovation/pre-jetway days when you walked from ticketing DOWN to the tarmac-level gate areas; for service by Eastern, PSA, Frontier (the original), Western, Republic, Hughes Airwest, and the rest. I grew with my father's stories of trips to the Tucson Airport when it was still at Davis-Monthan to meet AA DC3s.

I loath having to drive to PHX for convenient schedules, but adequate schedules are near impossible from TUS. Yes. You CAN get to BUR, ONT, LGB, SFO, OAK, and PDX from TUS, but only by connecting in PHX, SAN, LAS, or LAX (sometime more than doubling travel time) or driving to PHX for non-stop service (again, doubling travel time). You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. And one AS MD80 to SEA - at times that don't even allow an adequate leisure weekend turnaround - seems meager (Sorry. This is my most recent frustration). And BOS, LGA, EWR, JFK, IAD, BWI, DCA, PHL? Not easy from TUS.

I guess I just need to accept it.
 
desertjets
Posts: 7563
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 8:42 am

I guess I should clarify by what I mean "in the middle of nowhere", which has been somewhat altered by my living out east the past few years. Granted there are some small communities between TUS and PHX and ELP and YUM, but they are all pretty small, not big enough to really contribute to the traffic base. Once you get beyond the outer limits of the metros you literally are in the middle of nowhere. Granted this is changing rapidly.

I think for a fair comparison look at a city like RIC or ORF, both similar sized non-hub cities (I would argue that they are wealthier and have a better business base) and you will not see a ton of destinations served from them either. All the major O&D market, hubs in the region, etc.... A lot like Tucson.

How is the new terminal looking, when I flew out of TUS last (July 2002) they had just began the project. The terminal, especially the baggage claim areas, certainly needed the upgrade. The departures level not so much.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
FA4B6
Posts: 1078
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:00 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 9:07 am

Quoting Jmc1975 (Reply 5):
Here's what TUS should look like in a perfect world:

SEA: 2x AS 73G
PDX: 1x AS 73G
SFO: 3x UA CR7
OAK: 1x WN 733/73G
LAX: 6x WN 733/73G, 4x UA CRJ
SNA: 3x WN 733/73G
SAN: 4x WN 733/73G
LAS: 4x WN 733/73G, 4x HP CR9
PHX: 12x HP CR9
SLC: 3x DL CRJ
DEN: 5x UA 733/319, 3x F9 CR7
ABQ: 3x WN 733/73G
ELP: 2x WN 733/73G
DFW: 6x AA M80/738
IAH: 4x CO 733/735
MSP: 2x NW 319
ORD: 3x AA 738, 2x UA 319
MDW: 1x 73G
DTW: 1x NW 319
ATL: 2x DL 738
HMO: 1x AM ERJ
MEX: 1x MX 318

Add:

JFK: 2x B6 320
"Leap! And the net will appear."
 
AZflyer
Topic Author
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:49 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:07 am

Or perhaps:

EWR: 1x CO 738
IAD: 1x UA 319

It would be a great line up.
 
azstar
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed May 11, 2005 5:25 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 12:02 pm

The "new" terminal looks like crap. They expanded the ticket counter area and remodeled it so it has a semi hi-tech look, declared it finished, but haven't touched the 1960's style, beat-up, old wooden ticket counters.
 
AZflyer
Topic Author
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:49 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Wed Aug 03, 2005 11:41 pm

Funny enough, those counters were brand new when the terminal was renovated in 1985 (I know. It's been 20 years.) But I think the 2005 renovation is fairly pleasant, aesthetically. Functionally, however, it's the concourses that need help.
 
azstar
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed May 11, 2005 5:25 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 12:03 am

It seems that when most airports renovate, they do it all in one shot, even if it takes a couple of years. In Tucson, they start and stop. This renovation should have taken 1 year, if that. So far it's taken 3 just for the lobby, and it's nowhere near finished, IMHO. The concourses will probably take 5 years, or longer.

[Edited 2005-08-03 17:06:11]
 
benyhone
Posts: 201
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2001 4:48 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 12:18 am

Guys,

What's the status of the extension to 11L-29R and upgrades to 11R-29L?

Terry/Cactus Wings

[Edited 2005-08-03 17:36:10]
Cactus Wings Photography, Phoenix
 
flyboyaz
Posts: 2077
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 11:32 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 2:25 am

Quoting Azstar (Reply 15):
The "new" terminal looks like crap. They expanded the ticket counter area and remodeled it so it has a semi hi-tech look, declared it finished, but haven't touched the 1960's style, beat-up, old wooden ticket counters.

I think it looks great....a hell of lot better than it did. The ticket counters are going to be redone in the fall...they have been planning that for a long time now.

Our air service isn't too bad. We do lose a lot of traffic to PHX like others said. The CO EWR flight did well in peak seasons. The last 2 months it operated it was overbooked everyday. However the yields were low and they lost money. It may or may not return over the winter.

With the US/HP merger, we are hoping to get flights to CLT or PHL but who knows. I would expect some kind of schedule change once it's done.
Catch a ride on a smile!
 
COEWRNJ
Posts: 1000
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2003 9:46 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 3:19 am

I agree that the renovation look great, but I think they forgot about the concourses in their planning. They are old and have poor lighting. The venues are atrocious. Nothing like that greasy Mexican Grill for breakfast at 6am. It would be nice if TUS had more non stops to the east coast, but it's not surprising that they don't. As others have said, they really need to fix the concourses.
 
AZflyer
Topic Author
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:49 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 4:15 am

Quoting Flyboyaz (Reply 19):
What's the status of the extension to 11L-29R and upgrades to 11R-29L?

As far as I know, 11R-29L is due to be relocated pending aquisition of land south-southwest of existing airport property boundaries. (This based on 2003 cost analysis and 2005 master plan). No dates have been posted yet.
 
desertjets
Posts: 7563
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 9:36 am

I never thought that the airside part of the terminal was all that bad. Granted there is a decided lack of concessions. It isn't exactly all that pretty or well featured, but it is functional.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
flyboyaz
Posts: 2077
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 11:32 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:29 am

Quoting COEWRNJ (Reply 20):
I agree that the renovation look great, but I think they forgot about the concourses in their planning. They are old and have poor lighting.

They didn't forget, it just wasn't part of this renovation. I believe they are going to do cosmetic changes soon...new carpets and gate flight info displays at each airline.

The airport doesn't like the limited amount of venues either but hey have a contract and plan on getting new vendors once it expires.
Catch a ride on a smile!
 
ATAflyer
Posts: 62
Joined: Sat Jul 17, 2004 10:10 pm

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:54 pm

My folks live in TUS, so I have been flying in there since forever....or TRYING to. Air service has declined severely over the years, and -2- ground stagelines have sprung-up to PHX because of the high fares in TUS.
I have e-mailed the airport administration after reading their website updates and I think they could be doing a lot more to encourage increased flights into TUS. They appear to be just sitting on their hands. IMHO they need to sweep out these folks and get a new administration up to the task.
Sorry, I am not usually this vocal but this is a hot topic for me. And I am getting tired of the PHX trip on I-10.
Regards
Rick
A better way to fly
 
dartland
Posts: 514
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 5:09 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:58 pm

TUS-EWR on CO is seasonal. Expect it to start back up in early October (it did last year). Not a bad flight really, did it a couple of times last year, although they were on old 735s.

Otherwise, I agree -- very few non-stops to the east. I had to go there on business a few times last year and had to stop at DEN or LAX before the EWR non-stop begain.
 
MAH4546
Posts: 24521
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 1:44 pm

RE: Air Service At TUS

Thu Aug 04, 2005 11:09 pm

Quoting Dartland (Reply 25):
TUS-EWR on CO is seasonal. Expect it to start back up in early October (it did last year). Not a bad flight really, did it a couple of times last year, although they were on old 735s.

It could change, but they currently don't plan on bringing it back. When it went daily last year, it was supposed to be year-round.
a.
 
flyboyaz
Posts: 2077
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 11:32 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Fri Aug 05, 2005 1:21 am

Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 26):
It could change, but they currently don't plan on bringing it back. When it went daily last year, it was supposed to be year-round.

This is true. They say that every year however. We haven't heard yet about this fall's schedule.

Last year's attempt to bring it year round failed due to low yield. They were competing fares with Jetblue out of PHX...no wonder it didn't work! I think they should do a daytime flight instead, it would fill for sure. The flight operated during the day on Saturdays and it was almost always full with O&D traffic, hardly any connections.
Catch a ride on a smile!
 
AZflyer
Topic Author
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:49 am

RE: Air Service At TUS

Sat Aug 06, 2005 5:31 am

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 3):
Horizon flew nonstop to PDX and the SFO Bay Area, but it was apparently more lucrative for them to operate F9 Jet Express flights instead, where the risk was lower. Load factors were in the 80% range, as I understand, but Horizon claimed they could never raise the fares high enough to meet their margins. Don't know what the solution is.

Horizon is my favorite regional, and the carrier I miss most at TUS. I flew TUS-SJC/SFO/PDX regularly and am surprised that they couldn't sustain an adequate profit margin...the planes were almost always full, and the fares, while reasonable, weren't what I would call cheap.

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