flyfresno wrote:smflyer wrote:irishpower wrote:I realize this is still probably years away (if at all) but will SMF ever see direct service to Asia/Europe? If so where and which airline is most likely?
I know the proximity to OAK,SFO and SJC hinder the chances but what are the chances? Will SMF have to extend a runway to make it happen?
The proximity of SF Bay Area is definitely a hinderance to seeing transatlantic or transpacific service, but other major hinderances to consider is the lack of multinational companies with a large presence in Sacramento (other than Intel?), and the lack of SMF being seen as tourist destination. Large international airlines like British, Air France, Lufthansa chase yield more than market demand. So even though SMF may have enough demand to fill up the economy section of a 777 to Europe daily, it may not have enough demand to fill the business class section of wide body aircraft that typically fill up more than half of the available square footage of aircraft. The other downside of SMF is that the market has very little international draw as a destination. Others may point to Napa/Tahoe/Yosemite as draws to the region, but those places are already serviceable from the SFO market and SMF has no advantage over that regard other than maybe less traffic to your destination. But if you are coming to Northern California on vacation, why wouldn't you want to start your trip in world class San Francisco and then move outwards? Additionally, SFO is also well served with international carriers meaning prices are generally competitive in economy class so having a full fare to SMF vs discounted SFO ticket available would make more travelers drawn to SFO.
I think SMF will get trans-at/pac flights in the future, but I dont see it happening anytime in the near future, I would predict sometime later in this decade.
I think the best chance SMF has is the sort of service we've seen in places like OAK & SWF and/or STL & CLE: ULC carriers like Norwegian and WOW (and carriers like that will be back eventually) that serve mostly leisure passengers and are looking for mid-major cities that don't have transoceanic flights (like STL and CLE) and/or reliever airports to a region.
Problem with these WOWs and Norwegian types of carriers is that their business model doesn't seem to work. I can't count the number of these so called long haul low cost carriers that have gone under in Europe. Widebody aircraft are very expensive, they cost more per available square foot of seating room compared to A320/737 types. The other thing is fuel cost is a huge component of per trip cost for a long haul route. There is only so much you can cut costs on things like labor and airport fees, you can't cut the significant fuel cost on these flights. So you need passengers that will pay for the plane and will pay for the fuel to get there. Unfortunately long haul low cost hasn't figured that out..at least yet.
Over the next decade, it is likely narrow body aircraft will take over east coast to Europe flying as those A321neo LR/XLRs are grossly cheaper to operate than wide bodies and carriers will favor these over time. This should free up wide body capacity to be used on longer routes and thus a European network carrier may begin service. Of the large European carriers, I see British Airways as a potential first at SMF. They have the smaller 788 available and their London hub is on the west most part of Europe making it great for connecting to the rest of Europe. I would think Gatwick would be well suited for the SMF market due to its low cost compared to Heathrow.