Exactly. Competition is a good thing. Before Delta de-hubbed at CVG, prices there were astronomical (second only to ANC). DAY filled in the void quite nicely during that time, particularly for leisure travelers.
Living in SW Ohio, I've always preferred flying out of DAY (35 minutes away) over CVG (65 minutes away) or CMH (75 minutes away). Then there is the issue of getting to CVG (e.g., the nearly weekly occurrence of a car or truck stalled on the I-71/75 "Brent Spence" bridge) and the time it takes to get to the gates.
Also, I don't understand the love for the 3x3 seating config on a main line 737 or A320. So what, its a bigger plane (and I will never fly Frontier again given its limited seat pitch). But if I am stuck in economy, I'd rather be on a 2x2 config (CRJ) or a 2x3 config (MD-80/90). And forget about upgrading as a DL silver or gold out of CVG with all of the DL fanatics there. Switched to AA shortly after the DL/NW merger and it has worked out quite nicely. Plus I can throw my support to the only Ohio based airline (PSA).
Sorry, might have made sense for you, but for the large population centers CMH, CLE and CVG actually serve it really wasn't a great experience having to haul yourself an hour's drive plus away to catch a flight at a decent fare from DAY/CAK/IND/SDF. Actually having competitive low fares at CVG, CMH and CLE HAS been brought about by the consumer choice and competition you're talking about thankfully. Now all of this doesn't mean DAY and CAK are irrelevant...they do have their own local markets to serve that will always warrant some level of service, but they can no longer depend on the drive traffic from the larger cities who were fleeing previously high fares.
The only way DAY is going to get competitive again with CVG is to have lower fares, as it's previous history proves. The only way that's going to happen is with a ULCC presence, and most of that has appeared at CVG and CMH instead.I fear DAY may turn into CRJ land. I'm in the process of booking a flight somewhere and the fares out of CVG are $100 lower round trip on a major carrier.
In many ways, that is simply the market becoming rational.
10 years ago, when CVG was dominated by Delta (even though by 2009 Delta had already largely drawn the the hub), CVG was basically just a spoke for UA, AA, CO, and US to operate flights to their regional hubs. Nobody wanted to compete with Delta. Airlines that wanted a piece of the Cincinnati market, such as Frontier and AirTran operated out of DAY, where they wouldn’t be run out of the market.
A good example of that is 20 years ago, Vanguard tried operating cheap flights from CVG to MDW, and Delta offered lose leading fares with extra SkyMiles incentives until Vanguard was run out of the market.
Dayton is a small market, it is a small city with a weak economy, that shares much of its catchment area with CMH and CVG. I live overseas, and my first year, when I flew to see my family in Cincinnati, I flew to DAY. It was cheaper on UA. Those days are basically over now, it is almost always cheaper to fly to CVG, or the cost is the same, so why fly to an airport that is an extra 20/30 minute drive from my parents home?