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SegmentKing
Topic Author
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AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sat May 22, 2004 3:56 am

Was just finishing up some research for our Board of Directors and noticed something about AirTran Airways, Inc.

The last market to get service from ATL was added was DCA when they were awarded the slots in the lottery last year...

I'm just wondering what exactly is going on in ATL... FL could easily add 3 or 4 flights to short hop routes like CHS, CAE, ILM, BNA, TYS but they obviously haven't done so.

Gate space, while at a premium, can be reworked to a "rolling hub" system rather than the banks which are presently in place.

And more research (OAG mainly), shows that the 737s are intially in place just to ADD capacity to ATL instead of opening up new markets. So I'm wondering if/when exactly ATL is going to see more growth, and if so, where. There are only a handful of longhaul markets I've identified (PHX, SAN, SEA, SLC) that make sense for the 737s.. but my money so far has them keeping ATL at its present 350 flights a day and not going much over that...

any other thoughts?
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srbmod
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sat May 22, 2004 5:17 am

The 717s that are being replaced on some routes by the 737s are going to be replacing the JetConnect CRJs.

As for expansion @ ATL, unless AirTran can get some more gates on D, they will have to go to a rolling hub in which to add service; I'm not sure how many of the shared gates on D they'll be using once JetConnect is discontinued, and I have yet to find out what gate(s) on D Independence Air will be using for their ops.

Real expansion @ ATL is still about 5 years away when the new southside terminal and gate area is built. More than likely, AirTran would be the primary tenant for this complex, which is slated to have 30-35 or so gates (the terminal hasn't be designed yet, and one possible design has 31 "contact" gates, or gates that are directly connected to the terminal. Below is a rough idea put on paper as part of the Hartsfield Master Plan:
 
GSPSPOT
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sat May 22, 2004 5:23 am

OUCH!! That looks like some MAJOR rearranging! I know the 5th runway is currently under construction.... I had no idea about another terminal. Will 285 have to be rerouted? Also, GSP needs to be considered for svc, too. Would rather connect in ATL with Airtran than at IAD with Indy Air....
Great Lakes, great life.
 
srbmod
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sat May 22, 2004 5:29 am

I-285 is not being too majorly affected by the expansion, they are building a bridge/tunnel setup over I-285 in which part of the 5th runway will be situated on. They've only had to realign a small part of the interstate a few feet, and all that's left is finish the supports for the tunnels. Most of the rerouting of roads were surface streets around the airport. Here's a link for the entire expansion project:
http://www.atlmasterplan.com

Here's the full sketch of the entire master plan:
http://www.atlmasterplan.com/figure_6_1.htm
 
mikeymike
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sat May 22, 2004 5:29 am

My understanding is the new southside terminal will be a regional jet terminal, not a full mainline terminal (similar to the set in CVG). The obvious issue is the connection traffic back the main terminal for Delta.
 
srbmod
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sat May 22, 2004 5:33 am

It would make more sense to move AirTran's ops over to it instead of putting ASA/Comair over there, as that would add to the connecting time between mainline and Delta Connection flights and vice versa.
 
iflyatldl
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sat May 22, 2004 5:42 am

The fifth runway will extend(cross) out over I-285.
Ah, Summer, Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox and Beer.....
 
airtran737
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 12:59 am

They should let us have the new terminal. I hate being surrounded by Delta. It would be good for AirTran to be away from all of thos widget's.
Nice Trip Report!!! Great Pics, thanks for posting!!!! B747Forever
 
deltairlines
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 1:15 am

I too agree that the new South Terminal should have AirTran written all over it. AirTran would get a terminal to itself, instead of having to deal with the current terminal setup, where it can take a while to go through security, etc, because everyone has to go through that checkpoint. It would also allow them to get out of Concourse C, which isn't that great (I decided to walk around it during my last layover in ATL since I had 3 hours, and I thought it was darker, narrower, and a lot more crowded than the other concourses I went to (T, A, and E). Also, I think Delta would want AirTran in that new concourse, as it would allow Delta Connection to take over all of Concourse C (allowing the Concourse D Connection gates to become mainline again), and it would also make connections a lot easier than having to somehow get down to the South Terminal (I assume if they are going to do an airside connection between the current concourses and the new South Terminal, it would be a train, since I don't really see them allowing shuttle buses to cross over two active runways that are constantly in use)...

Jeff
 
airtran737
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 1:22 am

Well said Jeff. Delta defiantly needs the room in C, and it doesn't make much sense to move the whole Delta Connection operation away from the other concourses. We'll see what the boys at Hartsfield come up with on this one. Maybe they'll give the new terminal a stupid new name too, they didn't seem to have a problem ruining the name of the airport.
Nice Trip Report!!! Great Pics, thanks for posting!!!! B747Forever
 
dl021
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 1:55 am

I know that some AirTran folks would like a terminal all to themselves, but think about the thing. 32 gates against the fact that your passengers who connect to other airlines would have to take a bus to the main terminal (and you know they would take the longest possible route, even further to the international terminal). That would be counterproductive to growth as people would rapidly tire of that fire drill. It would also reduce the marketing presence that AIr Tran enjoyus currently in ATL. Being the biggest other airline in the busiest airport lends visibility and credibility, giving passengers used to using Delta a constant reminder, every time they ride the people movers thru the stations, that they have a choice. If a new terminal went to commuters then Air Tran would be able to pick up more gates in the main terminals and increase their footprint, as well as revenues.

The future is pretty bright for Air Tran as long as they dont start making the same mistakes as their predecessors and make decision based on ego and perceived prestige (the TWA Taj Mahal at JFK for instance) instead of good business sense (and as long as their labor costs don't reach the same levels as their competitors,,,,go tell the FA's who are picketing right now!)
Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
 
srbmod
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 2:26 am

The new southside terminal would be connected to the current complex via the APM. Even if they did use shuttle buses, none of the NLVRs around the airport actually cross any of the runways, just taxiways to the cargo areas, the ramp areas, and to hangars. By having them new terminal to themselves, AirTran can design it to their maximum benefit, like actually having a baggage transfer point that wasn't carved out of some old office space. They can have enough room for future expansion, so they wouldn't have to reconfigure the gates so they could add four more gates (like they did about 5 years ago). It would be cost beneficial since they would not need as much GSE, since the gates and terminal would be connected, so a lot less bag runners will be needed to run bags between the gates and landside, and vice versa. A lot less bag runners means less tugs and carts to worry about, and less MX costs on GSE, and lower gas bills since they aren't running as many pieces of GSE.

One of the main reasons for building the new terminal is for competition reasons. The City of Atlanta currently owns 5 shared gates on D, and at peak times, those gates are not available. By adding this new terminal, gates will be made available in the main complex (or possibly the southside terminal) for airlines to either start service into ATL, or to add additional service to ATL.
The current gate situation is not good for business, since some routes do not have any competition due to the lack of gate space in which to offer flights on these routes.
 
SegmentKing
Topic Author
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 2:34 am

From my data, there is no more room for growth at ATL. Taxi times of up to 36 minutes is NOT something an airline wants to have... and gate space is just the tip of the icing.

I've personally noticed that when we land, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the terminal.. even longer when we depart.

What I'm getting at is that FL is probably done adding flights at ATL (maybe adding 1 or 2 here and there), but there isn't room to add regional markets that would be a boon for Air Tran such as Knoxville, Nashville, Birmingham, Charleston, Columbia, etc without cutting flights to other markets (can't touch Florida really).

I don't think a new runway is going to make things easier.. it just means now you'll have 2 lines of planes waiting to dart across the active... I think it's time ATL purchased a couple thousand acres on all sides of the airport and maybe build some cross winds..

-n
~ ~ ~ ~ pRoFeSsIoNaL hUrRiCaNe DoDgEr ~ ~ ~ ~
 
dl021
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 2:57 am

srbmod, excellent points. When I went to the masterplan site I saw that the APM connection is listed as a 'possibility'. If you are from Atlanta, you know that the construction of this terminal, which is projected as a possibility by the year 2010, and is not a definite, will be connected to the main terminals by the least efficient means possible if the city leaders manage to insinuate themselves in the process. To make an APM work they will have to construct around the runways, as digging a tunnel under them would be cost prohibitive. This would take a good deal more money than setting up bus transfer system that the city leaders could then staff with constituents, and contract to campaign contributors.

If they take the commuter traffic and put it out to the projected south terminal that would alleviate a good bit of taxiway and runway conjestion, reducing times for mainline traffic, or more probably keeping the times the same while allowing for more mainline traffic.

As far as the city owned gates, they can be better utilized, but the city wants to attract more airlines into town and holds those gates for newcomers. The best solution here would be to lease them out for overflow buring the peak season when they are vacant. i.e. National had two or three gates. These outer gates are being used semi-regularly by Delta during their vacancy as anyone who has landed at 2130 at gate D-32 can attest.
Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
 
elwood64151
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 3:08 am

I don't think a new runway is going to make things easier.. it just means now you'll have 2 lines of planes waiting to dart across the active... I think it's time ATL purchased a couple thousand acres on all sides of the airport and maybe build some cross winds..

First, the new runway looks as though it is particularly designed for the new terminal (if the above diagram is correct). Second, buying up large sections of land in Atlanta, GA, is a lot more money than the airport authority is probably willing to spend.



The city might consider opening DeKalb Peachtree Airport ( PDK ) to scheduled passenger flights in a manner similar DAL: Only to the surrounding states. That would allow WN to fly there, and open up some space at ATL for airlines that have hubs in nearby states (NW at MEM, US at CLT, AA at MIA, etc). One runway is 6000 feet, more than long enough for a 737. The cross-wind runway is only 3378 feet, but that could be expanded.

States that would have service would be: Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and of course Georgia; but connecting service would not be limited in the manner seen with the Wright Amendment. If they want to operate beyond that, the aircraft would have to be RJ-sized or smaller. I can see WN flights to BMH, BNA, MCO, FLL, and RDU.

Certainly such a plan would require the purchase of several hundred acres of additional land in the area, but it would be far less expensive the purchasing thousands of acres around ATL.



As for the original topic:

I think FL has room to expand at ATL. Right now, they use the gates about 8 times a day. Potentially, a gate can be utilized up to 10 times a day (assuming 40-50 minute turn-times). I wouldn't expand the full 25% that such optimization would suggest, but a modest 15-18% expansion is possible using the current configuration. Further expansion could be possible if overnight "red-eye" flights were added to destinations that can support such flight times, but these are few-and-far between.
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
 
dl021
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 3:39 am

Elwood.... You have a good idea, but local politics and economice realities probbly would preclude this. The land around PDK is 'inside the Perimeter' which is Atlanta real estate code-speak for really expensive. Also the neighborhoods around PDK have held up any real development there for the last twenty years due to NIMBY fever. Things can get done, but it's a real fight.
Now, PDK has been a government reservation of one kind or another since before Private Alvin C. York learned how to march there, and it has been either a Naval Air Station or a GA airport since WW2, but the people that move in seem to take personal umbrage that the airplanes don't stop flying when they contract on their house. PDK is also a very busy GA airfield, one of the busiest. Scheduling big jet traffic in would run into both the NIMBYists and the already considerable GA traffic, everything from ercoupes to G550s.
Phoenix aviation tried to use one of their normally chartered G-1's to fly a scheduled route from McCollum field in Marietta to Panama City FL and they were moderately successful, but stopped due to the resistance to their growing their operation to make it profitable. This lesson was not lost on the local carriers.

This is not to say that PDK could not support 20-30 flights by RJ's or ATR's if you could get past the local opposition, but then you have to face the fact that travel between ATL and PDK is not really feasible due to distance so you eliminate the feeder traffic and it would have to be pretty much stand alone routes for the regionals.

The more feasible plan for airport expansion that has been floated is to expand Briscoe up in Gwinnett county and make it a strictly local area regional airport that could take some of the heat off of ATL and not really bother any homes. PDK's final is over houses up to the last seconds, Briscoes final is over the Publix regional commissary and warehouse.

BTW you are correct that they do have room to grow in ATL, gates wise. I think they have some beefs about the facilities thay are using. I believe that DL got the jump on them when they bought/leased EA's former C-terminal facilities, including the 'secret' tunnel between "C" and "B" terminals.

Hartsfield/Jackson planners recognize the need to grow, they will need some political help to get everything done right.
Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
 
elwood64151
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 6:48 am

This is not to say that PDK could not support 20-30 flights by RJ's or ATR's if you could get past the local opposition, but then you have to face the fact that travel between ATL and PDK is not really feasible due to distance so you eliminate the feeder traffic and it would have to be pretty much stand alone routes for the regionals.

If WN were to be one of the airlines flying into PDK, I doubt they'd much care about feeder traffic from ATL.

As for the NIMBYs, the airport already discourages pilots from operating there between 11pm and 6am. If they chose to operate scheduled flights out of PDK, they could slot-control the airport for scheduled commercial traffic. If they kept it to no more than 15 scheduled flights per hour, and no flights after 10pm/before 7am, I don't think the NIMBYs could complain as much. Of course, you don't offer that right off the bat! It's a negotiation point.

After that, all they need to do is get enough land to extend runway 9/27 and build a terminal!

I know little about Briscoe Airport. Where exactly is it in Gwinnette County? My sister lives in Buford, and I lived in Lilburn for a few years... I imagine it's farther out than either of those...
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
 
srbmod
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 9:17 am

LZU, Gwinnett County/Briscoe Field is up GA 316 about a mile north of GA 20. When they lengthened the runway there in the early 1990s, the plan was to eventually convert the airfield into an airfield with commerical service (LZU has only had a tower for about 10 years), but the NIMBYs were able to get the runway length shortened from the original plans, and basically raised enough fuss that the only way LZU will ever get a commercial flight would be as a diversion (The NIMBYs in the area were pretty well pissed @ the Gwinnett Country gov't in the early 1990s. First they built the new jail in the same area, and then tried to turn LZU into a second commercial airport for the Atlanta area). I'm pretty familiar with all of the goings on @ LZU in the early 1990s, as I lived in Gwinnett County at the time (I lived in the Lilburn/Stone Mountain/Mountain Park area, and considered the now-closed Britt Memorial Airport as my home field of sorts).

As for PDK, the current runways are weight restricted to a/c under 90,000 lbs, so the biggest a/c that can currently land there are business jets. There are plans to repave the runways with concrete (they've gotten an FAA grant to do as such), but the NIMBYs have been fighting that, thinking that they'll be able to allow 737s into PDK, which is sort of true, as the new runways would be able to support heavier a/c, but the officials @ PDK have said that they would not change the current restrictions in regards to a/c weight.



 
dl021
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 10:53 am

Srbmod
I looked at Britt as my home field as well. I really hated it when they tore it down for the Olympics. It is a subdivision now, with the runway now a road. It still has the fenceline on Stn Mtn property. I lucked into flying in and out several times in a Mooney and a 172. I even got the (a) story about the broke down T-28 that was growing weeds.

We are kind of off-track for this topic, discussing ATL growth instead of Air Tran, but I think they are connected. ATL is the hub, and does offer room for growth. I don't really see how any lcc's using 737 or A320 type a/c can make it at PDK, or Briscoe/Charlie Brown/ McCollum. PDK is ok with RJs or Dash-8/ATR type but logistically it would be a challenge with parking, security, and the rest. They would have to share space with Signature or another FBO, and they would have to clear space near the Clairmont side for parking. AND the dang NIMBY's would scream about an in-town airport making their lives miserable.

If AIrTran wants to expand they will have to increase utilization at the main terminal somehow for now, or do what they seem to be doing and increase services with what looks like an eye to creating some mini-hubs outside of ATL.
Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
 
HeavyMX1
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 1:50 pm

What cities do you think FL will look in to making a mini hub or even another
"major hub".
I am better than you because I live on an Island
 
m404
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 3:02 pm

Joe Leonard, CEO of AirTran" is quoted "The second half of this year is going to be very dicey. We think this is a very good year to hunker down" A reason given is that the network carriers are expanding capacity. An example given in Aviation Week and Space technology magazine is that of Delta adding 8%. That's equal to all of AirTran's capacity. He goes on to say "A lot of the actions of the government have exacerbated the problem"

In a speech in New York recently he complains that the Legacy carriers are taking advantage of government distortions of the economics of air travel, such as federal loan guarantees "to go out and attack competitors" He goes on to say that he believes a shakeout among low fare carriers may be necessary and feels their are too many LCCs. "Next year may be a good year to open markets"

In another argument I've used, if the less fuel hedged Legacies are using precious funds to fly more miles just to maintain market share and slow the LCCs growth then they are fighting to be able to fly more and loose more to carry more. If the current 80% load factors are still unprofitable then flying more aircraft and increasing capacity, which normally lowers LF, just makes matters worse.

Any views on this out there?

Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
 
elwood64151
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Sun May 23, 2004 10:46 pm

M404:

It depends entirely on whether they bring in more aircraft, or if they can operate the expanded schedules using the aircraft they already have in operation. If they utilize their aircraft in a more efficient manner, then they can increase the number of flights, lower prices, and make money. If they can't utilize them more efficiently, and must bring in more aircraft, then it will likely fail to do anything but weaken their financial positions further.
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
 
m404
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Mon May 24, 2004 4:53 pm

Elwood64151

I think I'm still fuzzy in the logic. Extra flying with lower prices when a 80% LF is unprofitable is still unprofitable. Your just working harder to do it. I agree the incremental savings of not activating parked acft is a point but crews, fuel, airport fees, handling (at expanded hours) and acft use charges are still increased.

Everyone cut flying after 9/11 to match the market. The market is coming back but the costs (fuel) has gone up but fares have not in comparison. It would seem that simplification of work rules, fares AND lowering costs through negotiations or forced job changes like those ongoing at NW and US counter/gate personnel are the answer. Without those, just flying more often seems only able to hold on (possibly) to market share while treading water.

This is a very interesting topic since the entire US market is involved in it. Thanks for the input.
Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
 
quickmover
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Tue May 25, 2004 4:45 am

Joe Leonard was specifically asked on the last earnings conference call about more gates in ATL. They are adding 4 gates from somewhere and he said that getting more wouldn't be a problem.

I don't know where they would come from.
 
srbmod
Posts: 15446
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 1:32 pm

RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Tue May 25, 2004 6:43 am

Joe Leonard was specifically asked on the last earnings conference call about more gates in ATL. They are adding 4 gates from somewhere and he said that getting more wouldn't be a problem.

I don't know where they would come from.


I think they'll be on Concourse D. I would not be surprised if Midwest starts to use one of the shared gates on the end of D, as they are down to two flights a day, and really do not have a need for a dedicated gate for that few of flights. Air Canada's gate could also be one as well, they could either use one of CO's gates (CO currently handles AC's flights @ ATL), use one of the shared gates, or even use fellow Star members United or US Airways gates. There is also a gate that Expressjet and Midway used to use right next to Midwest's gate, and that makes three gates right there, and the area NW and CO use to park spares at could be transformed into a gate fairly easily. Another thought could involve getting the use of some of the gates on Concourse E. The only way they could add gates on Concourse C would be if ASA gave them up (not bloody likely), as there is no space on AirTran's end to add gates, as they used up the remaining space when they added four gates back in late-1999/early-2000.
 
worldtraveler
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Tue May 25, 2004 11:36 am

Don't forget that it is probably in AirTran's best interests to look to expand elsewhere in the country besides ATL. FL is always cognizant of DL's presence in Atlanta but also knows that to be considered a premier nationwide low cost carrier requires seeking out and developing new markets. They are probably as likely to grow their operation in DFW, BWI, or PHL as they are to grow in ATL.
Like Philadelphia, there is no viable alternative for another commerical airport in Atlanta. PDK is way too close to valuable land whose owners will finish off any politician that allows commerical traffic into PDK. Also, PDK is owned by Dekalb country and has no governmental connection with ATL.
 
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OzarkD9S
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RE: AirTran Growth Patterns: Not At ATL

Tue May 25, 2004 11:54 am

AirTran could accept what they have in ATL, and just snap up the 20 gates or so sitting emtpy in STL. Is that enough room to grow FL??????  Big grin
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