jman40
Topic Author
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 3:50 am

Diversion Airport Arrangements?

Fri May 11, 2012 6:48 am

I was on a WN flight into DEN this evening which had to divert to COS for a bit to wait out some weather. Certainly something of a non-event, but it got me thinking:

Do airlines have pre-arranged contracts/agreements with common diversion airports? In this case, WN sent a handful of jets to an airport which it doesn't serve, but is a very close and logical alternate to a pretty significant station/hub. In other words, when WN started building up in DEN a few years back, did they call up the FBO at COS and make a formal agreement for service, knowing that from time-to-time some of their 737s would end up there needing fuel and other ground services? Or is it more of a case-by-case basis?

Obviously, had I been on UA or even AA, those airlines' COS ground staffs and contracts probably would have taken care of my flight. But in this case, WN has no employees at COS (I assume).

I know the combinations and situations to which something like this might apply are infinite. Just curious to hear from the pros as to what degree these situations are anticipated and planned for.

Thanks!
JMan
 
Fabo
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RE: Diversion Airport Arrangements?

Fri May 11, 2012 11:12 am

well, obviously in ideal case you would have a so-called commercial alternate (which is how many airlines name aiports that make sense to divert to) that is also your hub or station. This would be more common in areas where there are more cities/airports in relatively small are. For ex. JFK might have commercial alternates in Phillie, DC and Boston.

If there are no viable candidates nearby a destination, you might want to make an arrangement about using airport as alternate. This is good, because it estabilishes like procedures, what to do and how to do with passengers and so, how to ground handle the aircraft, a basis for paying for handling on diversion... similar stuff. Also it might be then cheaper to divert there compared to if you just landed with 15 minutes notice.

If that fails, you may land on any other reasonable airport (I would consider things like, do they have knowledge of handling this type of aircraft (with another airline), is the airport sufficiently equipped to handle my plane type and my flight type - e.g. does it have on-site customs, or at least on-demand customs service, does it have terminal with sufficient capacity, does it keep the fuel I need etc.). Most airports will have some provisions to accept the flight and deal with the financing, even if it was "There is an ATM there, fetch the company credit card"
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roseflyer
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Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:34 am

RE: Diversion Airport Arrangements?

Fri May 11, 2012 4:16 pm

Quoting jman40 (Thread starter):


Do airlines have pre-arranged contracts/agreements with common diversion airports? In this case, WN sent a handful of jets to an airport which it doesn't serve, but is a very close and logical alternate to a pretty significant station/hub. In other words, when WN started building up in DEN a few years back, did they call up the FBO at COS and make a formal agreement for service, knowing that from time-to-time some of their 737s would end up there needing fuel and other ground services? Or is it more of a case-by-case basis?

The airlines have agreements in place. A large airline like Southwest is basically going to have a procedure for every commercial airport in the country. It has become much more prominent since the 3 hour tarmac delay rule came into effect.

Airlines help each other out. Southwest likely was contracted to another airline to provide servicing for its aircraft at the diversion airport. Not only do they need fuel, but they also have to have access to deplaning the aircraft and maintenance. Each airline does it differently, but with a few exceptions, all the airlines work with each other.

Facilities does matter when choosing an alternate airport. COS is the most popular alternate for DEN. The dispatchers know what airports are the best to choose and they are not necessarily the nearest available alternate.

And as a side note it has nothing to do with marketing alliances. Delta and United work very well together for example, although getting a United mechanic to a Virgin America plane may take an act of God.

[Edited 2012-05-11 09:19:17]
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KELPkid
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RE: Diversion Airport Arrangements?

Fri May 11, 2012 11:34 pm

In extreme cases, a diversion airport may just ba a safe place to land that the pilots had to choose. Places like Halifax, Gander, and Narsarsuaq pop to my mind...in a bona-fide emergency, e.g. engine failure in a twin, the rules state that you must land at the nearest suitable field, although there is a little room for interpretation on the pilots' part for the definition of the word "suitable". However, the passengers might find themselves on the ground with little to no creature comforts  
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