Traffic YTD – Up 5.4%

Airports:USA traffic data indicates that the nation is on track for @ 5.2% – 5.8% growth in 2018.

The difference from the past is that many airports are seeing wild swings, as ULCCs literally come and go.

Some of this momentum will slow in the last months of the year. Fourth quarter appears to project a bit slower growth – @ 4.6%

Industry Update – September 17, 2018

International Aviation Forecast Summit Accepting 2019 Host Proposals

The Summit draws not only aviation leaders, but also global attention to the business intelligence it delivers.

Our 2018 host, Denver International Airport, has advised that the IAFS delivered $35.9 million in earned media coverage, which in turn showcased the Mile High City.

We’ve opened the process to select next year’s venue. Airports and communities interested in hosting the aviation industry’s #1 conference can get an RFP package by clicking here.

We want to once again thank Denver International Airport for making the 2018 event something very special.

Pictures are now posted… click here to view.

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Connecting America To The Globe.

In Some Cases, Local Air Service Isn’t A Part of It.

We received some questions regarding the recent update that used the disappearance of pay phones as part of the same dynamics that are shifting air transportation in the US.

The point is this: the phones are gone, but the communication they once facilitated is still going on, but via different consumer channels.

 It’s the same with air access. Just because there’s no scheduled service at a given small community airport does not mean that the consumers are stuck trying to get into or out of town. As with the communication channel represented by the pay phone, they’ve switched to other modes.

Often the mode is at another airport that offers better options than the population around the local airport can support. Often, these are actually more time-efficient, too, even with a long drive. Shoehorning an itinerary into the two dying flights at the local airport, and making a connection, when the distant airport has nonstop flights, makes no sense and is flatly non-competitive.

In other cases, the use of air no longer is a viable communication option. We’ve used ALB-ISP and BUF-ALB, where once robust O&D has now effectively evaporated. The process and cost of air travel is now eclipsed by other communication modes.

Studies, Analyses & Voodoo. Ignoring this reality is costing some small communities a lot of money, chasing elixirs that will get lots of passengers back at the local airport that simply cannot compete.

It is unfortunate that most of the policy thrusts coming from Washington are focused on small community airport service, which is in many cases completely at odds with consumer trends and air service economic realities.

What is also unfortunate is that frequently small communities and their airports are often guided into in blissful and expensive ignorance of what their own consumers prefer.

How ‘bout the jive-time unscientific local surveys, asking dumb questions like “would you use the local airport?” the blind positive responses from which are then assumed to be Delphi-like indications that just rolling up a plane to the gate will magically attract passengers.

Then there are the leakage analyses, replete with all sorts of expensive-to-buy ticket-purchase data and MIDT information and other voodoo, which are then passed off as proof that the local airport has great service potential. Or the “true” market studies that generally assume data to represent air service potential that’s anything but “true.”

The Consumer Is The Metric, Not Civic Hubris. And while all these rituals are going on, the consumer has found and is using other channels of communication and travel, none of which will be changed by the recruitment of one or two flights at the local airport, or worse, the emerging nonsense of just flying one market that can be operated, like, with a Cessna Caravan.

But somehow, having scheduled flights – any form, any operator, any destination –seems to be something on some small local airports’ bucket list.

Regardless of where the flights go, or whether they are connective to the global transportation system, or just ULCC service to Florida – it’s all the same. Just get scheduled flights – any scheduled flights, and the community will be saved.

Money & Studies Won’t Change Consumer Realities. Meanwhile, the consumer has usually found other channels of communication and access to air transportation. Better and often more time-efficient than whatever the local airport may be able to attract or subsidize.

Recently, we saw a small, un-served airport, whose downtown is less than a 60 minute drive from over 600 daily nonstop flights, claim it will pony up nearly a quarter million dollars in consultant fees and incentives to get scheduled flights at the local airport.

Any scheduled flights will do – network carrier or ULCC – which are entirely different transportation systems – it doesn’t matter.

It won’t matter to the consumer, either, who will continue to access the globe elsewhere.

Global Connectivity Is Multi Modal. If small communities and rural America are to keep up with the rest of the global economy, that means we need to pursue new communication options and channels to make sure that they are connected.

And in many cases, it will take a whole new perspective on the value and use of the local small community airport. As we move into the future, it will be logistics and distribution that offer the real opportunities.

A scheduled Cessna 208 lumbering off the gate with three passengers bound for a zero-connect destination will indeed meet the needs of some small airports’ bucket lists.

But won’t do diddly to expand the region’s global presence. Scheduled flights are not the only option.

In some cases, they aren’t an option.

Update – September 10, 2018

At World Routes, Our Clients Have The Advantage With Chinese Airlines

This week, our airport clients are heading to Guangzhou. And in meeting with Chinese airlines, they’re way ahead of the competition, with marketing materials, China-US forecasts, and data presentations created in Chinese by the professionals at Boyd Group International.

But the China opportunity is one for the future, and after World Routes give us a call. We can assist airports of all roles and sizes develop effective outreach to capture more business and Chinese investment for their regions of the country.

BGI is the foremost expert in China-US air service forecasts and strategic trends. Click here to go to BoydGroupChina.com and see how we can give you the advantage in attracting this new key revenue sector.

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The Wildcatter Wild Ride

As we pointed out at the 2018 International Aviation Forecast Summit, the ULCC genre of airline is a whole new use of airplanes as vehicles to deliver a discretionary spending option, rather than chasing air service shortfalls.

Getting that confused can lead to PR embarrassment when the carrier shifts focus and pulls down some or all service. It’s not a good idea – nor sound planning – to portray ULCC entry as the same thing as American or Delta of United adding flights.

The two transportation modes are fundamentally different. ULCC entry is a positive event… but it needs to be handled carefully and described accurately. Otherwise there can be some serious egg on the Mayor’s face for reading off crib sheets and taking great credit for this wonderful air service event, only to have it evaporate shortly later.

Also as we noted, these carriers are like their wildcatter counterparts in the oil industry – they drill for revenue, and if it’s not there sufficiently, they are gone. Quickly.

A lot of the euphoria of a couple months ago at some Frontier-chosen cities is fixin’ to deflate due to this key dynamic of the wildcatter model… as a couple of examples, between now and February schedules indicate the following:

Austin – seventeen markets served by Frontier will be gone

Raleigh-Durham – nine nonstop destinations off the A&D board

San Antonio – fourteen markets pulled.

No Harm. No Foul. The public needs to be disabused of the notion that such pull-downs are any indication of local air service weakness. The majority of these yanked markets were low-frequency “day of week” flights. The loss is not a major hit to any of these airports. In most cases, they were simply experimental.

And even if operated only for a very short time before being pulled, the airports involved benefitted from traffic and PFCs they wouldn’t have had anyway. They introduced airports to consumers that wouldn’t have been there in the absence of Frontier.

Don’t Pop The Bubbly Too Loudly. Again, this wildcatter model is entirely different from traditional airline planning. That needs to be recognized in how local PR is handled when the grand announcements are made of new service. It could be gone in a couple of months, so the PR needs to be handled carefully.

The temptation to posture the entry as the result of the community’s “years of effort to lure the airline to town” should be avoided. That gets icky when the service is dropped after two months.

More excitement to come…

Traverse City Moves Up To Michigan #3

Congratulations to our long time partner, Cherry Capital Airport.

Setting an enplanement record in July, TVC has moved up to be the third busiest passenger airport in Michigan.

Update – September 4, 2018

September 10 2018 Update Is In Progress… Standby

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The Pay Phones Are Gone.

Rural Airports Need To Recognize The Opportunity.

The indications all are pretty consistent.

  • Last week, OneJet, an operation geared to providing point-to-point flights in non-served secondary markets that once may have had tens of thousands of passengers, ended up sleeping with the fishes…
  • Then we have Surf Air, a menu-driven sort of membership affair, aimed at re-connecting smaller airports, finding itself all wrapped around the financial axle with one of its suppliers…
  • How about Seaport, another attempt at intra-regional air service, going 86.
  • Pen Air, an airline that tried intra-regional air service, will have its assets sold off in a bankruptcy auction this week, someplace in Alaska…
  • And pay phones have also largely disappeared at airports.

All of these events are completely related.

They represent some of the major changes in consumer communication channels. And, like all such changes, they are part of other emerging shifts that can represent new opportunities.

The pay phone thing is emblematic. New communication channels – cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail, etc. – have made these devices completely obsolete.

Passenger Economics Have Changed. New Communication & Logistics Channels Are Emerging. It’s much the same with intra-regional and rural air service. What was flying around 30 years ago represented a communication channel that is as functionally and economically as obsolete as the little booths where mild-mannered Clark Kent did a quick costume change from time to time.

The fact is that the economics of air transportation have changed, and separate from that, the communication channels used by the modern consumer economy have also changed. Result: a lot of intra-regional air service, and a lot of service that some airports once could support, are as dead as the demand for black-and-white television sets.

Two Words, Benjamin: Logistics & Distribution. As we pointed out at the 2018 International Aviation Forecast Summit, consumer communication patterns and demands have changed. Intra-regional air service between small and mid-size communities is now largely an obsolete and inferior means of business interaction.

It is unfortunate that the air service strategies being foisted on a lot of airports are the equivalent of doing a study to find out how to bring back Ma Bell and have her re-hang some new pay phones on the terminal wall.

The failure after failure of airlines attempting to fill this “need” might be an indication.

Alternative Communication Pattern = Alternative Opportunities. We’ve pointed it out in the past. A lot of small airport air service development schemes are little more than primitive cargo-cult activities, albeit more marketing-sophisticated.

Instead of more “task forces” or DOT study voodoo, the future for small airports remains within the very dynamics that have killed off the pay phone and intra-regional passenger service.

As we noted at the IAFS™ in Denver, the name of the future game is logistics – moving goods and services faster and more efficiently. While communication is now instant, logistics are still in the molasses-bound 1950s.

Today, air cargo is not much different from when in the late 1940s American implemented its fleet of DC-6A freighters. Planes are faster, but overall logistical channels aren’t much changed. Move it to the cargo facility, build the pallet, fill the ULD, put it on the plane, and reverse the process at the other end.

Things are fixin’ to change.

Take A Look At A Rural Map. We’d suggest that US airports – particularly rural airports – start to look beyond wallowing around trying to recruit Cessna 208 flights that nobody wants to get on, and start to re-think their role in the next leap in logistics.

Look! Up In The Sky! It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! No, It’s UAS Technology! Think rapid, cost-efficient distribution. Then look at a map of rural Wyoming or Montana… Every small airport has potential to re-invent itself as a logistics distribution point. No, not traditional “air cargo” – that concept is up there with hula-hoops.

It’s rapid logistics – not with today’s systems, but in ten years, technology will change logistics to be a much faster communication channel and one that is in all areas of the country. That will mean a need for rural distribution centers. Think about it.

Point: the demise of the pay phone and the fact that intra-regional passenger service is now obsolete, are just one side of the new logistics future.

Planning For The Future… It Means Dropping The Past. Rather than go on, Boyd Group International in the coming weeks will be exploring this new dimension facing airports – and particularly those in rural areas of the nation.

Moving into the future, there’s a lot of life after pay phones and scheduled service.

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IAFS Presentations

Attendees at the IAFS will shortly be getting a log-in to review and download available presentations from the 2018 International Aviation Forecast Summit.

Included will be the BGI Airports:USA presentation, along with the Forecast Mapping Session and the Airports:China forecast.

Due to the unique discussion/exploration format of the IAFS, many of the sessions did not entail slide presentations. The IAFS goes beyond other events in focusing of free-form discussions with industry leaders, instead of canned pre-prepared PPT presentations.

This is what sets the IAFS apart, and why many industry leaders will comment that it is the #1 business intelligence event of the year.

August 27, 2018 Update

Next Update On September 4, Recognizing The US Labor Day Holiday…

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The #1 Aviation Event Delivers Again!

Just a Glance At A Few of The Highlights

The 23rd Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit wrapped up right on time at 5PM, Tuesday August 21.

It capped four days of exciting events, presentations and discussion sessions. As always, the IASF™ had no pre-titled “panels” – instead, we got the views and perceptions directly from the leaders in the aviation industry.

The National And Industry Media Were At The Summit In Force. We were particularly excited this year to have media from all areas attending the Summit – CNBC, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, Air Transport World, Airline Weekly, Dallas Morning News, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Access Intelligence, Avionics Magazine, Reuters, Flight Global, Skift, Travel Weekly, Cranky Flier, Airport Business – and a few free-lancers, too.

Do a search – you’ll find that the content of the Summit has driven a lot of in-depth media stories.

Our First Aviation Leadership Award. We were excited to implement the first IAFS™ Aviation Leadership Award, given this year to Robert Fornaro, CEO of Spirit, for his long contributions to thought-leadership in the airline industry.

All The Way – Straight Talk. From The starting point of a lively issues discussion with A4A CEO Nick Callio (and, yes, the PFC issue was a hot Q&A subject item – no holds barred) down to the final session on Tuesday, which delivered the only solid research and forecasts of the China-US market.

China – Time For Facts And Hard Data. By the way, in that final Airports:China™ session, we outlined the top potential second-tier markets between China and the USA, and the US airports in line for such flights – with some surprising conclusions.

This session was preceded by an incisive reality session with Dr. Chi Zhi Hang, VP-North America of Air China, where the issues of open skies and JVs between US and Chinese airlines were outlined to be the first step before any “flights to China” can even be envisioned from secondary US airports.

Communication Is Now Instant. Logistics Are Lagging. One of the key forecast points illuminated in the Forecast Mapping Session, which opened the Summit, was that logistics will be the next huge disruptive force in the airport industry. While communication channels have gone in the last 200 years from traveling along with logistics – i.e. at the speed of a horse – to nearly instantaneous from sender to receiver, logistics are only marginally more advanced than 50 years ago.

This is where new channels of logistics will be coming into play in the next five years, including UAS (drone) technology that could completely change distribution systems. How this will affect airports across the nation remains to be seen, but it could signal an economic rebirth at rural facilities.

United – Our Platinum Sponsor. We were honored to have Scott Kirby, president of United Airlines (one of our Platinum Sponsors) at the Summit to talk about his carrier’s expansion plans, such as at Washington Dulles. In the free-form discussion format of the Summit, a lot of ground was covered – with no canned presentations.

Southwest – Platinum Sponsor & Hawaii Update. Andrew Watterson EVP and Chief Revenue Officer of Southwest delivered an in-depth review of the carrier’s careful and planned move into Hawaii, and in the Q&A discussed how new stations for Southwest in the US were going to be well down the timeline.

New Fleets – New Opportunities. One of the most incisive sessions was the Q&A with all of the major aircraft manufacturers, where the attendees queried these senior executives on the potential effects of new super-long-haul airliners, as well as the emergence of fleets that have entirely new mission capabilities.

Airport Enplanements – Strong Growth, But Redistributed. The Airports:USA® session forecasted a 25% growth in national enplanements through year 2017. This is equivalent to the passengers now using the top six US airports combined.

On the other hand, the session revealed that air travel is less attractive as a communication channel in short-haul “commuter” markets such as between the DFW Metroplex and the Austin-San Antonio-Houston triangle, where traffic has dropped by 50% since 2000.

In addition, the costs and consumer shifts in the past 20 years have shown that air is also no longer economically feasible between many small and mid-size intra-regional markets. Regardless of the number of “task forces” or “studies” – air transportation is less and less of a communication channel compared to 30 years ago.

Wildcatter Airlines – A Whole New Consumer Product. The Airports:USA® session also outlined how ULCCs are now using airliners to deliver a whole new consumer spend product. Like the wildcatters in the oil business, these carriers seek out pockets of discretionary revenues that can be drilled and captured by offering low-cost air transportation.

These wildcatters make market decisions that are often galaxies away from the methodologies used by traditional airlines in making market decisions. They are a wild card when forecasting traffic – they come, and if the market works, they stay. If not, they leave.

These are just the tip of the huge mountain of presentations and business intelligence delivered at the 2018 Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit.

Presentations Available To Summit Attendees. Where the presenters allow, and where there were slide presentations, these will be made available to Summit attendees shortly, along with the BGI forecast sessions.

Thanks To All of Our Sponsors… And Denver International! We want to thank all of our sponsors, including Platinum Sponsors Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

We are in awe of the support of our host, Denver International Airport, which pulled out all the stops to make this the biggest IAFS™ yet.

In addition to all of the other extensive support, including special gifts to all attendees that showcased the great city of Denver, the staff of DEN delivered hospitality that bespeaks the Mile High City. But in particular, the Monday night event at Coors Field was nothing short of incredible.

We want to thank Kim Day and her staff, whose planning, support an execution made this year’s Summit incredibly successful!

We want to thank all of our nearly 400 attendees – your presence and participation makes the Summit what it is.

Thanks To The BGI Team, Too! We also want to recognize our own staff. Marian Boyd – CEO, and her immediate team – Sonia Watts and Dan Cohn -have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours over the past year to make the Summit happen. Their work is the reason that this is now an event that aviation leaders clear their calendars for every year.

This team is the industry standard… the attention to detail, the quality of the content, the close relationships with industry leaders from across the world, and the Marine Corps-like focus on absolute perfection – are the reasons many of the attendees tell us that the Summit is the best aviation event – better than any other.

Professionalism is the at the core of Boyd Group International, and the Summit is the proof. Thanks again to every one for making it happen.

 

 

August 13, 2018 Update

The Seven Top Airport Trends, 2018-2027

We’ve just published the 2018-2027 Airports:USA traffic forecasts.

All of the findings will be reviewed at the International Aviation Forecast Summit next week.

In the meantime, we’ve published The Seven Top Airport Trends, 2018-2027 – you can review it right now, and it contains just brief outlines of some of the futurist points in the Airports:USA forecast…

…Things like, Providence and Jacksonville may want to brush up on their French, and take a look at thruput in the FIS… Charlotte, North Carolina – you may want to call us for a China-Welcome program, and soon. You may be first in line getting to know a few non-“Jing-Hu” points in China… “Road-hubbing” may be the fastest-growth air service trend… and we really do need to re-think the need for a higher PFC, because hub-choke is more than real. And more…

Just a couple of things to think about. A couple of the points in the Airports:USA forecast that we will be exploring at the IAFS.

As usual, this is not just another numbers exercise.

It’s consistent with our track record of not accepting consensus thinking.

— Remember, it was at the IAFS that we first forecast the end of demand for 50-seat jets – in 2003, when other sources were predicting demand decades into the future

— It was at the IAFS – back in 2008 – that we outlined the forecast rationale for a trans-Atlantic invasion of large interior non-hubsite  US airports. Nobody else predicted it. Now it’s here, and since it’s as obvious as an alligator in the swimming pool, other consulting firms are actively “predicting” it.

— It was also Boyd Group International that first suggested – in 2005 – that US airports and communities start to “get to know” China, as it was going to be a huge market opportunity. Back then, most other firms thought “China” was tableware. Today, we’ve assisted communities across the country in getting prepared for more Chinese investment, using the most expert team of professionals in China-US air transportation trends.

Okay, invest in a couple of clicks and take a look at The Seven Top Airport Trends, 2018-2027. It covers a lot of territory that no other event even touches. Key highlights of what what’s in the Airports:USA forecast at the IAFS this year.

Go to www.AviationForecastSummit.com, and then click on the title page icon, like the one here.

Take it to the bank, what we cover in the Airports:USA forecast is business intelligence found nowhere else.

Or, better yet, take it to Denver, and join us next week at the IAFS.

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August 6, 2018 Update

Get “Future-Enabled” At The IAFS…

Trends, Data & Business Intelligence That Other Events Miss

We are excited that the International Aviation Forecast Summit is just two weeks away.

We thought it might be an idea to illuminate some of forecast trends we’ll be covering – most of which are galaxies ahead of any other industry event.

Airports:USA® Enplanement Forecast

The only projections accomplished entirely in the private sector, covering 146 airports that generate 95% of all US passenger traffic, the 2018-2027 Airports:USA® session will outline:

  • Growth – over 5% this year, but with slowing rates below 2.5% for the next three years. The session will look at the underlying drivers
  • High growth rates at regional, non-hubsite airports (under 2 million) but the growth will be geographic-specific
  • Rapid spikes and declines as ULCC “wildcatter” airlines drill for net new traffic in places the major network carriers avoid
  • Fuel costs will – will – result in major challenges to keeping rural regions connected to the global economy
  • How long-haul route plans may be curtailed – for the near term – due to the cost of carrying fuel. A lot of planned new intercontinental markets from major airline hubsites will be dropped – affecting not just those airports, but air access in key regions of the US
  • New carrier concepts – a candid look at new airline models, such as Moxy and low-frequency intra-regional business jet entities.
  • The consumer-driven trend toward regionalization of access. A lot of ASD programs foisted on small communities to “lure” unnamed (and non-existent) airlines to the local airport will become increasingly obvious for what they are.

Fleet Forecasts – New Route Planning. New Facility Needs, Too

The major changes in the structure of the aircraft industry will be front and center at the IAFS™.

  • The aircraft platforms coming on line are changing how carriers structure capacity, hub reach and competition.
  • The new Boeing-Embraer and Airbus-Bombardier relationships and how that will affect airline fleet decisions
  • The new 90-seat Bombardier Q-400 may have more impact in North America than some may think
  • Plan on it: a 90-degree change at major carriers regarding 50-seat jets. Clear space in the desert – regardless of how things appear right now.

Fuel Projections

This year, Ben Brockwell of Oil Price Information Services will be back, and he has insights regarding fuel trends that will again threaten ambient thinking.

His analyses cover not just production, but the demand-drivers across the globe that will affect what airlines are paying in places like Omaha and Salt Lake City and Missoula.

Ben’s past forecasts at the IAFS™ have been spot-on. This year will likely be no different. It’s the reason we are always honored to have Ben at the event – consensus thinking has no role.

China Opportunity Forecasts – Getting “A Flight To China” Is Trendy. But Not Consistent With Reality

Boyd Group International is the leading source of research and consulting on the trends in China air service, and the burgeoning potential for access from there.

Unlike other consultants, we don’t just regurgitate government and other outside data. The China air market – domestic and internationally – is evolving rapidly and is focused on new dynamics that have no parallel here in the West. We pursue our own research and analysis of the trends and future of the China opportunity.

Our Airports:China program monitors changes in Chinese traffic, capacity, fleet trends and governmental policy shifts.

The data are nothing close to what some airports are trying to achieve. For example the vague concept of “a flight to China” – as if just tossing a plane toward old Cathay is the goal. Makes great press… but not a lot of sense.

China, where? What demand – now and ten years from now? What destination? What future expansion?

China is not some trophy destination, it is a giant country where the top 50 airports represent traffic opportunities that are tremendous, but balkanized. Most secondary, non-hubsite airports in the US don’t have anywhere enough demand to any one Chinese destination, regardless of the level of Chinese investment in the region. Even having one or two huge Chinese-owned businesses in the region is no guarantee of sufficient traffic to support nonstop service.

And without real connecting hub operations in China (yet), a flight from just about any Chinese destination is all dependent on local O&D. Delta’s recently-implemented ATL-PVG flights have lots of US connectivity. But at the China end, even with a code-share with China Eastern and its partners, connectivity within 4 hours is to only around 15 cities – if the already-full load factors on those flights allow. The point is that from the US, service from key connecting hubs will be a success.

But outside of major AA, DL and UA hubsites, the prospects at the moment are not good. But that will change, and that will take planning, and a major change of mindset at some communities.

Our Airports:China™ forecast session will deliver new perspectives on developing outreach to and service connectivity with the China market.

  • New approaches – the high-level political junkets need to be replaced with targeted objectives. Chasing across China, meeting with officials, and making great press back home is increasingly eye-wash, not effective planning. It does not alter the structural challenges regarding China access
  • Recognition of the Chinese air transportation system. Despite the lore – China has yet to develop US-style connecting hubs.
  • The effects of higher fuel prices on delivering the advantage to Chinese airlines (Think trip origination trends.)
  • The “Mianyang dynamic” – emerging growth in key commercial centers in China – changing air service systems

Point: air access with China is not some trendy trophy. There has to be demand, and there are pertinent challenges that need to be addressed, well beyond the hype and flashy dinners with Chinese airports.

These are just a few of the areas we’ll be covering August 19-21 in Denver. Our hosts, Denver International Airport, have pulled out all the stops to make this IAFS™ the most exciting yet.

Challenge The Status Quo…

Finally, as another factor that sets IAFS™ apart, there is a special reception on Saturday, 18 August being held by Boom Supersonic. Attendees of the IAFS™ are invited to see the future – the concept of a 2.2 Mach airliner that the “experts” said was a pipe dream.

Funny, but Japan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and China’s largest travel conglomerate, as well as a litany of high-level financial investors, don’t agree with the “experts.” Join us  for the Summit and see the future.

Click here to register, and we will see you in Denver!

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Chicken Little Lives!

It’s broadcast lore.

In 1938, a radio show playing H. G. Well’s War of The Worlds, got taken for real, instead of the hoax it really was.

Narrated by Orson Welles, the special Halloween format was the weekly CBS variety show, Mercury Theater On the Air. On this evening, however, it was repeatedly interrupted by what sounded like real news bulletins about a Martian landing in rural New Jersey, and then how they were invading all across the country, terrifying the populace and wrecking the place with ray guns.

A lot of people didn’t hear the beginning of the show, and went bonkers in fear of little green men doing impromptu urban renewal with heat-ray weapons on towns all across America.

It was, obviously, taken out of context. More than a little.

It’s Not Space Creatures. Just The TSA. This week, we had a similar situation. Even though it came from the TSA, it, too, was a hoax – at least when considered calmly and professionally, which hasn’t been done much. Hysteria is so much more fun than facts.

CNN reported – and implied in a long detailed story that it was for real – that the TSA was planning to drop security at small airports. Planes smaller than 60 seats would just fly unscreened passengers, and those connecting to other flights would go through security at the larger, arrival airport.

The story recounted at length how some internal TSA document claimed it would save money and would not reduce security. CNN postured the suggestion as being a serious threat to America.

Alas, within the context of aviation realities, it’s the same level of threat as was recounted that night 80 years ago by Orson Welles.

On Cue: Let The Crocodile Outrage Begin. Yikes! The sheer crust of the administration – yup, they had to work that part in – was another indication that money was more important than keeping the skies safe.

Lots of uproar. Lots of panting media indignation. Some industry groups almost jumped in their water dishes, they were so righteously enraged upon hearing the CNN story. Other media picked it up, with headlines often stating that the TSA was actually planning to move ahead and close down screening at small airports.

Oh, no! Thousands of passengers would not be screened!  Now, there would be an open channel for terrorists to hop on planes in Muskegon, Yuma, Cortez and Jamestown, free to have their way with us.

In The Light of Hard Reality, Not Only Dumb, But Clearly Impossible. Here’s a clue… like War of The Worlds, the whole thing was something that in reality couldn’t happen. That’s because the TSA suggestion cannot be accomplished. It’s impossible to implement.

Read: as impossible as a Martian space ship landing at JFK – pre-screened or not.

If anybody had given the concept as much as five minutes of consideration, it would be clear that this was at best a dimbulb idea generated in one of those trendy but waste-of-time brainstorming sessions that entities like the TSA engage in from time to time.

Say it again… regardless of the veneer hype, the proposal that CNN passed off as so real would be impossible – impossible – to implement. Nobody bothered to even give it a second look for functional credibility.

But this one – to eliminate security screening at small airports – is even more in la-la land than the possibility of little green creatures with one big eye and a ray gun showing up at the door, asking directions back to the Red Planet.

Security Concerns: Even Suggesting This Shows How Incompetent TSA Management Is. First, critics are 100% right – dropping screening as was outlined is world-class dumb, even if it were just a suggestion at some mentally-moribund planning process at the TSA.

Media: You’ve Just Joined The Orson Welles Fan Club. We need to candidly question not only the TSA leadership, but the levels of professional scrutiny some of the media gave to the story before they blasted it across the wires.

The point is that anybody with a modicum of knowledge of airports, and who is awake, sober and holds an IQ just slightly higher than that of an artichoke, would know immediately that the concept simply can’t be implemented.

Indeed, out of the box, the concept is DOA. One word: facilities.

Think about the hubsite logistics. At some of these airports, the concept of accepting non-sterile arriving passengers represents a logistical nightmare not seen since Napoleon was trying to get the Grand Armee back from Russia.

First, to segregate non-screened passengers on arrival would mean enormous re-structuring of gate and concourse facilities at hubsite airports. And not a little, either.

Contrary to what the supposed TSA suggestion implied, and which media babble assumed, it isn’t a simple process to keep separate arriving non-sterile local passengers from ones who are connecting to other flights at the hubsite airport.

In Lieu of A Screening Point At Gainesville, Let’s Reconfigure Entire Airports. First, think about the wayfinding necessary to separate these two categories of non-sterile passengers.  Then, consider the channels to get the connecting passengers to some screening point – which at most big airports is nowhere near the gate facilities. Then have the channels to keep the destination passengers out of any sterile area while they head to the baggage claim and curbside.

Now, think about a hubsite airport… how ‘bout Detroit Metro. Think about getting these non-sterile passengers arriving on concourse C through the terminal. Think about how and where whole new screening points need to be set up.

Think about the resulting inefficient use of gates, as some may need to be “de-sterilized” for passengers arriving from non-screened airports.

Oh yeah. Think about the need to materially increase minimum connecting time at every airline connecting hub airport, in order to screen the folks coming in from Alpena to connect to Tucson. That 35-minute connection is a thing of the past. Think more like 60 to 75 minutes. Airline scheduling will be completely changed.

Think about how this concept would literally flummox the entire US air transportation system.

And think about the fact that it would be impossible to re-configure connecting hub airports to make this work.

Think… And Report Informatively. This is the point. Yes, for the TSA to even consider this to the point that they spent the time to put a price tag on it, shows that the great traditions of dimbulb thinking, begun with the early TSA pioneers in non-security, continue on.

But what is astounding is that just about every “expert” that the media contacted regarding this idiotic concept, never even bothered to consider the fact that, just like a landing from Mars, the whole thing is outside the realm of being physically implemented.

No Big Deal. We’ve Already Accepted The Equivalent of Non-Screening. Final point. Three years ago, we functionally had exactly the same situation as the one represented by not screening at small airports. We had a 96% failure rate in testing of screening across the US. Effectively, our airports were (and may still be) a terrorist sieve.

Can’t remember the same media outrage over that.

Or the feigned outrage from some of those alphabet groups inside the Beltway that are today in a froth over the equivalent of an extra-terrestrial invasion.

Move along, folks. Nothing happening here.

July 30 Update

Note! Please bear with us… with some browsers, we are having a few problems in formatting on the new site…. but do read on

First Half 2018
Airport & Air Service Research Report Now Available

We’ve just issued our 2018 Airport Traffic Trend Report… covering key areas including fare rankings, emerging capacity projections, and other issues that are key to planning the future.

It has data and information that illuminates what we can expect for the rest of 2018, including:

Fares – The Downward Drift Is Now Over

Capacity v Traffic Trends

The ULCC Factor And Projected Growth

The “Islip Dynamic” – The Rollercoaster of The ULCC Model

Identifying Potential ULCC Targets

The findings are very different from what’s being babbled in the media from raw BTS data most reporters take as Holy Scripture with zero understanding of the airline industry. You may be surprised at which airports actually have the highest per-mile cost of airfare, based on adjusted LOH.

To view and download the Research Report, click the cover page icon. This will take you to the International Aviation Forecast Summit site. Then just click on the Research Report heading in the right column.

It’s business intelligence that challenges status-quo thinking. Just like the International Aviation Forecast Summit itself.