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BGI Assists Ithaca In Pursuing Larger China Presence

Spearheaded by Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, and sponsored by the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, Visit Ithaca and a host of local businesses, BGI and its partners at China Ni Hao, LLC recently delivered a comprehensive China-Welcome™ Symposium to civic leaders in Central New York.

The region is already one of the most Sino-aware in the nation, with over 2.000 local Chinese students and faculty combined at Cornell and Ithaca College. BGI’s Airports:China™ data indicate over 58,000 annual O&D between Central New York and China, with approximately 50% captured at Southern Tier airports.

The Symposium Team delivered data, information and consulting regarding the evolving nature of the China travel situation, including shifts in demographics and the expectations of Chinese visitors and potential Chinese considering attending US universities.

China-Welcome™ Is Needed In China, Too. BGI/CNH China-Welcome™ Symposiums are different from other “China ready” programs, in that our team understands that efforts must be made on both sides of the Pacific to be competitive.

so, the Symposium illuminates what communities can do to be more competitive to attract more Chinese traffic. We discuss cultural differences, effective wayfinding techniques, and the need to have brochures in Chinese to inform visitors of US-specific travel factors.

Professional Communication. The Symposiums are specifically tailored to the situation at each client. However, one thing we always advise against it having any Google or machine translations of the local website, which are so inept as to be outright insulting. It conveys that the venue is sloppy and unprofessional. Always have materials created in Chinese, and never “translated” from English.

Every Region Has A China Opportunity. BGI/CNH have delivered tailored China-Welcome programs at communities of all sizes. There will be over 23 million leisure visitors from China in the next five years – and where they will visit will be determined by the level of awareness they have of communities and regions.

If your region is interested in moving ahead of the competition for this business, give us a call.

Air Service Planning Assumptions – Unhinged

Traditional thinking. Historical experience. DOT-reported data.
And of, course reliance on what “everybody knows.”

These approaches are leading a lot of today’s aviation planning into the deep weeds. They’re the very foundation of most of what is passed off today as “air service development.”

And they are increasingly bogus in dealing with the future.

Traditional Air Travel Concepts Getting Ignored. In the past few weeks, air transportation news has been tush-deep in route announcements from ULCCs that represent outright burn-‘em-at-the-stake-heresy in regard to the accepted norms of air service planning.

Allegiant. Frontier. Spirit. They are directly standing counter to the norms we once held dear. The ones we’ve always found as bedrock planning. These airlines are being very disruptive.

Harrisburg-RDU nonstops… With A-320s?  Yikes! Or, Syracuse – Nashville? And more.

Nonstops operated with 160+ seat airliners just 2-3 days per work week?  And not even in leisure markets.

Goodness, whatever are these carriers thinking?

Friends and neighbors, these are absolute anathema to the sacred foundations of air service planning. No way there’s enough demand to fill those flying machines… we have the sources to prove it, right?

Quickly, let us repair to the sacred scripture – a.k.a., DOT O&D tables – and gain enlightenment to counter such ULCC blasphemy against accepted “air service development” norms. We all know that these data – coming from the deep maws of the federal government – are the horn of truth, right?

Relief! The data are beyond being clear.

See, as just one example, they tell us that there are not enough passengers reported daily each way between MDT and RDU to fill one and a half rows of seats on that airliner. Literally.

There’s A New Travel Paradigm – One That’s Consistent With Consumer Shifts. But these flights are coming, and they are not being scheduled by folks who just fell off a turnip truck.

What this represents is what Boyd Group International has identified as the new “unhinged” aviation future.

Here’s a fact: the traditional air service thinking, as well as accepted planning and forecasting methodologies, have become unhinged from the past. There is a new emerging air transportation market…and we’re seeing the start of it.

The Oracle At DOT – A Lot Of Smoke From Yesterday. Let’s start with this tidbit of iconoclasm:  DOT data is merely reflective of air transportation based on a set of complex factors, and determined largely by what airlines are offering.

These data have little to do with illuminating “demand” – because air travel is not like taking the rainfall in the Midwest and then being able to forecast the water flow on the Mississippi.

Air Travel: A Consumer Spending Option. No longer can air traffic forecasts be founded on the assumption that passenger levels are merely the caboose on the GDP growth train. We’ve been slowly unhinged from that since airline deregulation, 40 years ago.

True, GDP projections are the traditional way of forecasting. But it’s now completely outside of air transportation system realities. (Sorry, FAA. Your annual reports look very nice, but they are Alice In Wonderland compared to the real world.)

The number of consumers who will take to the skies, to the contrary, is based on a lot of variables, and DOT data only reflect (often imprecisely) the results of the travel channels that exist.

What that means is that the data are not reflective of what could be, should some fundamentals of air travel be shifted.

Shifted – like tossing day-of-week flights between mid-size cities within a region.

It’s Total Travel Time That Counts. Let’s consider this: air travel choices are made based on issues of convenience, cost, and – missed in a lot of the ASD schemes foisted on smaller airports – the travel-time factor, i.e., how long the total trip will take.

Like we’ve seen in failed attempts to bring local network airline service to places like Laughlin, Youngstown, Cheyenne, Naples and others, it’s the total travel time that is what drives consumer choices.

It’s not the location of the local airport, either. A 60-minute drive to MCI from Topeka to get a nonstop flight is time-superior to shoehorning an itinerary to accommodate two local departures making a connection at ORD. Been there, done that.

That same overriding consumer dynamic can also apply to the attractiveness of future of mission applications such as we’re seeing coming from Frontier, Spirit and Allegiant. The travel-time superiority is demonstrable, and that could override the concept of frequency.

Travel Decisions May Adjust To Superior Elapsed-Time Schedules. Let’s take the BNA-SYR market. There could be a lot of demand in that market, if the travel-time and cost factors were significantly better than the current hub-connect options. We don’t have any historical data to prove it one way or another.  It’s up to the consumer in each affected market.

And, we all assume that convenience drives a lot of the travel decisions. We assume that one or two weekly round trips won’t be convenient. Really? Compared to a circuitous connection over ORD?

What is to counter the argument that, faced with time-gobbling and expensive hub-connect options, consumer travel patterns –and business meeting schedules – might shift to accommodate the existence of a nonstop, low fare flight on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

This is not to imply that all of these new markets will be a success. But it is to say that there may be a whole air system developing. It’s what Boyd Group International has defined as the Parallel Airline Universe.

Get A Jump On The Unhinged Aviation Future. Enough talk. The fact is that we are at a major turn in the air transportation system in the US, one that addresses functional and time-barriers to getting between major points.

One that, carefully crafted and applied, may create enormous additional air traffic.

On that is completely unhinged from traditional thinking.

So, if you’re interested in getting up to speed on this, join your colleagues at the International Aviation Forecast Summit, August 19-21, and get the straight facts from the CEOs and executives driving this change.

We’re honored to welcome Barry Biffle, CEO of Frontier… Robert Fornaro, CEO of Spirit. Jude Bricker, CEO of Sun Country. Lukas Johnson, SVP of Allegiant. Plus Andrew Watterson, EVP of Southwest… and this is just part of the line-up.

We’ll have one-on-one discussions with these and other airline executives from across the globe.

Hosted by Denver International Airport, you can register by clicking here.

And bring your staff, too… it’s two days of solid data, forecasts, and new perspectives that no other aviation event can even get close to.

Make Security Incompetence Great Again!

Let’s Toss More Money At The TSA

The airline industry alphabet groups are on the warpath…

They should be. The Administration is proposing to add more ticket fees to fund the TSA.

This is essentially the same as tossing the money down a rat hole. Maybe worse… at least the rats could make a nest of it. The TSA management is a national embarrassment.

The management of the Transportation Security Administrarion has been a consistent embarrassment, right from the start, when the first TSA Administrator spend a reported $400K right up front to redecorate his office. Then the millions spent on screening devices that the TSA ultimately had to pay somebody to take away as scrap. And the proposed 16,000 staff is now well over 60,000.

Then the reported 80% to 96% failures in screening accuracy – which the TSA tries to keep secret, and which is just taken as a blip in what they call “layered” security.  Layered like a roll of Charmin.

Message To The Oval Office: What the TSA needs is a complete floor to ceiling management clean-out. They don’t need more money.

Surprising. As a tough businessman who is known for demanding results, it is incredible that Trump would support more consumer dollars diverted to a bureaucracy that is famous for incompetence.  Like out-of-control spending, no accountability for failure, and no comprehensive anticipative “security” beyond screening for pointy objects.

The same Administration that touts how a new tax program will put more money into consumer spending now wants to hit up airline passengers to give some of it back… without any justification.

Media reports indicate that some of the inhabitants of the Marble Playpen, a.k.a. congress, are thrilled with the proposed fee, because it’ll buy more whiz-bang airport contraptions that’ll weed out more proscribed items in carry-on luggage.

The fact that incidents such as the baggage area shooting at Ft. Lauderdale and the electrical failure at Atlanta prove that the nation has no cohesive and professional post-event security and crowd protection whatsoever, isn’t a concern, apparently.

Paying For Things Make Sense… Unless They’re Losers. This whole TSA issue runs counter to several otherwise-valid points made by the Administration:

Strong arguments can be made for increasing the PFC cap – because those bucks are tightly controlled and are 100% beneficial in funding logical infrastructure.
Strong arguments can be made for curtailing much of the Essential Air Service program… which is mostly funding flights that have no utility at all and which consumers won’t use.
But the willy-nilly suggestion to add more fees for a bureaucracy that’s proven to be a financial and administrative cesspool is nothing short of irresponsible.

And misuse of taxpayer dollars.


US Air Service Policy & High Speed Rail…

A Lot In Common, Besides Ignoring The Future

In various media stories this past week, there were a couple of nasty wake-up calls in regard to US communication planning for the future.

Passenger transportation is part of the communication system, but today it’s still considered anything but. Every other mode of communication has evolved and conformed to new technologies and new consumer patterns.

In the USA, conceptual planning and policy, however, is working hard to make sure that passenger transportation systems don’t evolve consistent with these new dynamics, but instead stay comfortably in the context and needs of the 1950s.

Wake Up Call #1 – California’s Obsolete High Speed Rail Program. We had the revelation last week that the planned California high-speed rail boondoggle continues to come off its financial wheels. Now, it seems that the estimated cost of the first planned 119 miles has jumped from a promised $6 billion to over $10 billion.

That involves only about 20% of the total mileage planned, and is only for a section that’s mostly in rural areas. The other 80% should be lots of financial fun.

Wake-Up Call #2. Local Small Community Air Service. The second wake-up call was the message conveyed in several media stories of small community airports planning to attend “speed date” events to “lure” more airlines to town.

Now, we’re referring to the many small airports that have no airline targets in particular. No specific connectivity contemplated. The goal is just to get in front of the supposed faceless mass of carriers that can put a scheduled flight at the gate – regardless of where it’s headed.

Two Different Modalities. The Same Ostrich-Level Planning. High speed rail on one hand and the “need” for air service at local airports – these two seemingly disparate areas are really part and parcel of a single major issue:

Much of America’s infrastructure planning is about passenger transportation, instead of the futurist imperative of developing new forms of efficient communication. Transportation is just a part of the total communication system, and it is imperative that it be planned consistent with changes in other areas of communication – changes which alter the utility and value equation of passenger transportation.

In the case of high speed rail as well as that of air service at local small community airports, the flaw is the same: they both assume that consumer travel and communication trends are static. The both ignore new communication trends, as well as alternative consumer options.

Indeed, high-speed rail and much of the efforts to bring scheduled air service to some small community local airports have a lot in common: they are based on obsolete assumptions that gravitate around obsolete thinking and dead technologies that actually inhibit America from moving aggressively into the future.

High-speed rail – as planned in California – is as outdated as trying to re-establish passenger riverboats on the Mississippi. The cost issue – which almost universally originates with “studies” that are about as credible as a rigged carny game – represents a barrier that in most cases makes the whole concept a joke.

Then there is the nonsense about “high speed” – defined as over 200 miles per hour average.  If it’s a line between, say, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, with no stops through the uninhabited desert, then it might work – assuming that the “Los Angeles” end of the line isn’t a two hour drive from, well, Los Angeles.

But between Los Angeles and San Francisco, or Chicago and Minneapolis, only someone just back from Pluto could believe that the politicians at every town on the route won’t demand it stop there. That will kill the “high-speed” part. Hint: it takes a lot of distance to get a train up to 200 MPH and a lot more to get it back down to stop at East Cupcake.

Now, related to this is the issue of small community air service. Today, most of the discussions, planning, and “accepted thinking” in this regard focuses on “small airports” – and not on solutions for assuring rural access from the global economy.

That’s the giant fly in the current planning ointment – the sheer political nonsense that it’s all about keeping service at the local aerodrome, and not on looking to keep rural America connected to the global economy.

And that’s where the “speed date” event comes into play. It can be massively misconceived as a panacea for small airports, when there is no such future for re-establishing air service.

Let’s be clear: most of these speed-date get-togethers have clear and demonstrative benefits. To have the opportunity to tag up with a carrier that is already in town, or has a clear corporate strategy that makes sense for new service, is a very cost-effective way of building future communication.

But too often, small communities get hornswoggled into going to one of these events with virtually no understanding of the structure of the airline industry, or with the misguided notion that they will find an airline – any airline – to fly to town. It’s just to talk to the supposed faceless mass of airlines, and convince one or two to start service.

To fly to where? Many of these small communities come to the event not really sure, except that maybe a recent “market analysis” clearly showed that a lot of people want to go to Washington… or Dallas… or Chicago. No scientific data, and zero research on the existing consumer alternative options that will compete with the supposed point-to-point 9-seat departures at the local airport.

Sometimes this expensive misconception is just local lack of understanding of the structure and economics of air transportation. And, sometimes it’s the result of semi-ethical “studies” that fail to advise the client of the realities of air transportation. But, boy that $20K report has lots of cool data and charts and heat maps.

To state it bluntly, a large part of today’s air service development schemes is based on making sure no mention is ever made regarding the structural realities of the air transportation system – the most egregious being hiding the fact from small communities that there isn’t a giant pot of airlines at the end of the speed-date rainbow. To do otherwise would kill off the project.

That’s not any different from much of the body of “studies” of the potential for high-speed rail. Key realities, such as the low-balled cost estimates, the political pressures, not to mention the dismal economics, tend to get glossed over amid flashy pictures of racy locomotives and glorious claims about reducing “carbon footprints” or vanquishing “climate change.”

Also not considered is whether ridership estimates are within several galaxies of reality. Travel patterns change. Just take a look at air markets such as DAL/DFW- Austin, or ALB-BUF. You can take it to your bookie with confidence that the passenger volumes are directly out of fantasy land.

The Future Is In Building New Communication Channels. Local Air Service May Not Always Be A Part of It. The chase after “high speed rail” is a blood-brother to the bogus and obsolete – and impossible – concept of keeping air service at every local airport.

Regardless of the political and trendy stories and fantasies surrounding these issues, economic gravity cannot be reversed.

Let’s Move Transportation Planning Into The Future. What US planning needs to focus on are the levels of communication that regions of the nation have with the global economy. In some cases, there will be huge challenges – particularly on the relatively few cases where the population bases cannot support even regionalized air access.

We need to candidly recognize that tossing airplanes into small airports at communities where consumers have better alternatives, or building rail lines that are based on past travel and communication modalities, are heading the US into the past, not the future.

Join Us For More Straight Talk. Naturally, this isn’t consistent with “consensus” or “ambient” thinking. But it does open issues that a lot of folks in public policy planning aren’t too keen to discuss.

On August 19-21, at the 23rd Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit, we’ll be openly exploring these and other global issues that will affect aviation planning.

As our regular attendees know, this event does not allow political correctness in the door. The industry leaders from across the industry and across the world will be there to tackle the issues that will shape how aviation will evolve as part of the global communication system.

For more information, and to get the special New Year’s registration rate, click here.

Congratulations To Las Vegas/McCarran

America’s Only Truly Functional China-Welcome™ Airport

On December 2, 2016, the first nonstop flight from Beijing arrived at Las Vegas.

A notable event, one year ago.

But even more notable to the arriving passengers was the welcome they received – a true China-Welcome™ program that guided them from the greetings in Mandarin from a team of uniformed 欢迎大使 -Huanying (Welcome) Ambassadors – at the jetway, who then guided them all the way through the arrival process.

Signage and wayfinding in Chinese was deployed at all communication touch points, and the Ambassadors were ready to assist these important visitors as they processed into the US.

When the Hainan Airlines flight departed back to Beijing, the Huanying Ambassadors were at the security check points and at the gate to assist as well.

Kudos to LAS. The program is now into its second year.

More Than Greetings – Mining Important Strategic Planning Info, Too. The program is not only a marketing success, but a strategic one as well.

Circulating in the lounge area, they politely ask passengers if they would share their opinions of their visit to Las Vegas. While anecdotal, the information is very valuable in ascertaining ways of better accommodating consumers in the Middle Kingdom, as well as prepare outreach to other Chinese airlines.

LAS – Leader In Innovative China Outreach. In addition to this local outreach, LAS stands out in having the most comprehensive WeChat app of any US airport. WeChat is the most widely used – and most flexible – mobile app in the world, and there are over 500 million Chinese subscribers.

The McCarran WeChat app puts the airport literally into the pockets of thousands of Chinese travelers before they leave China. And once at LAS, the app serves as a navigational tool as well as a forum for airport concessionaires to offer Chinese menus and special promotional offerings.

In fact, the McCarran WeChat app is the equal of those at Beijing Capital and Shanghai Pudong airports. That’s natural – it was designed by the same team, a team that’s now associated with Boyd Group International.

There’s Veneer China-Prep And Then There’s China-Welcome™. While a lot of US airports will claim they are “China ready,” but Las Vegas McCarran is the only one to have a truly functional and pro-active outreach that goes beyond a couple of signs, a Mandarin speaker on hand, and “cultural” awareness programs.

At LAS, Chinese visitors are proactively made to feel that the airport respects and values their business. At LAS, the uncertainty and anxiety of Mandarin-only speakers are aggressively addressed. To be blunt, Mars probably has better Chinese wayfinding than most US international gateways.

With an expected 26 million visitors expected from China in the next five years, it is aggressive airports such as McCarran that have the eye of the new Chinese airlines seeking to enter the US.

We’re Ready To Assist You In A China-Outreach Program. Boyd Group International is proud to have worked with McCarran in establishing their China-Welcome™ program. And across the US, we’re working with a number of airports – of all sizes – in crafting programs tailored to their specific China opportunity.

If your airport or community is interested in developing a China-Welcome™ program, let us know. For more information on the range of cost-effective channels we offer, click here to the China Ni Hao website.

In the meantime, congratulations to Las Vegas McCarran.

Update – November 27, 2017

TSA Fails 80% of Screening Tests…

Silence From The DC Cognoscenti

It was reported a couple weeks ago that tests of screening at airports across the nation fell flat in detecting dangerous objects.

The failure rate was estimated to be near 80%.

One might think that this would have the aviation and travel industries all frothy and indignant. Heck, some of these folks have claimed that so much as ban on a couple of countries which have poor internal security and which generate near zip tourists to the US is a giant threat to our travel economy.

One might think that the news that our airport security stinks would be a major factor in deterring visitors to the USA, and there would be calls for some immediate remediation.


Not a peep from any of the alphabet organizations inside the Beltway. Remember the labor union that a few weeks ago so loudly denounced the plan at PIT to let non-ticketed people in to the main terminal, calling it a threat to security? Not a word from them, either.

Think About How Incompetent The Rest of The TSA Programs May Be. Here’s a fun thought. If the simple stuff like identifying pointy objects isn’t being done, it’s a lead pipe cinch that the more sophisticated and difficult security aspects – such as perimeter and AOA screening, not to mention complete threat-identification and threat-mitigation programs – are also being ignored. You can make book on it.

There were hopes that the Trump Administration would clean house at the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA. Apparently, not. Or, at least not yet.

Take The Easy Way Out. Blame The Folks In The Blue Shirts. Take a look at the media coverage… virtually all of it discusses how the front-line screeners supposedly aren’t doing their jobs. It’s their sloppy work, according to the veneer “experts” and zipper-brained network reporters.

Wrong. The actual slop in work product is at the media outlets that spew out this shallow-fact garbage.  What they generally duck from is any criticism of the people at the top of the TSA – the ones who are planning and running the show.

Here’s a fact that’s being missed: the people in the blue shirts at US airports are doing an excellent job.

That’s because they are doing exactly what the management of the TSA directs them to do. They are working within the rules, oversight, supervision and direction of TSA management.

The only real problem with the front line at the TSA is that they are stuck working people at the top who are simply unaccountable, unqualified and inept. A 96% failure rate two years ago, and now an 80% flop score illuminates that it’s not the front line that’s got the problem. It’s the kiddie-table expertise at the very top of the TSA that needs to be canned.

Unfortunately, however, these people are not in line for any criticism from the media.  Any major outlet that would legitimately cover this clown show knows that they might not again get direct access to the TSA Administrator or the head of Homeland Security. Those suck-up B-roll walk-and-talk pieces are great for the 6PM news.

If there’s an 80% failure rate, it means that the system is faulty and the management at the top are incompetent and the entire front offices of this gong show need to go.

Say it again… the system is the failure, not the people staring at semi-effective baggage screening devices all day, or trying to nicely explain that, no, grandpa, your Swiss Army knife can’t go through.

But, it seems that the Washington fraternity is holding tight, circling the wagons around the clowns who are  mismanaging airport security.

Having an airport security system that doesn’t work is apparently not a big deal to them, compared to making sure they have the connections they need at the top.

That may seem a bit rough. But this is pretty much the same situation as in 2001, when FAA Red Team inspectors tried to warn the people at the top about bad aviation security.

Politics and the need for access to pull took priority then, too.

“US Airports Would Do Well To Become China-Friendly”

Travel Weekly Acknowledges BGI China-Welcome Programs

Boyd Group International and its partner, China Ni Hao, LLC., have been working with a number of airports and communities in developing tailored programs that will put them ahead of the competition in gaining a larger share of the burgeoning Chinese leisure traffic and Chinese business investment in the USA.

Posturing to have a higher profile in the China sector will be important for communities of all sizes, and BGI/CNH are at the forefront of providing professional and very functional outreach systems.

From China Kits for episodic visitors from the Middle Kingdom, to China-Welcome programs for airports, through full-function digital and website presence in China, we have the expertise to make sure that when Chinese visitors and businesses look to come to America, our clients are ahead of the pack.

We are honored that Travel Weekly just posted an article on this subject.

Take a look.

And for more information on how we can get your airport and community in front of Chinese consumers and businesses, check out


Aviation DataMiner Takes A Look:

Cuba: Vapor Demand Materializes

Sun Country Latest To 86 Cuba Plans.

Last December, Boyd Group International’s trend predictions for 2017 included the forecast that US airlines would rapidly find out that all the travel industry’s panting and drooling about the huge “pent up demand” for Cuba travel would look pretty amateurish by the fourth quarter of the year.

A few months ago, BGI also noted that any increase in restrictions on Cuba access coming from the Trump administration would be a great smoke screen excuse for carriers to cut back and save face… not to mention saving a lot of money from not running semi-empty airliners to places that most US consumers have never heard of.

And that is exactly what’s taken place. The traffic demand to Cuba is a dud.

And what traffic that has been developed is likely to be mostly the kind of group tours that were in place before Obama went to Havana and basically apologized to the  dictator who’s running the place.

Standby For More Exits. Spirit, Frontier, Silver, Spirit, and now Sun Country have taken a pass on Cuba.

American has cut way back, and can be expected to do more in the first half of 2018. A 56% load factor, CLT-HAV isn’t going to cut it. Same with just 44% between Miami and Santiago.

Southwest experienced ghastly load factors in markets like FLL-Matanzas, and FLL-Santa Clara.

Masking this, a couple of carriers, according to sunshine reports in the media, have requested more rights to Cuba.  The stories conveniently leave out that they’re asking for Havana and mostly from SE Florida – which, looking at the load factors so far, is still very iffy. But nobody is lining up to add service to Camaguey or Cienfuegos.

No Infrastructure. No freedom. No Economy – What Does That Say About Air Travel?. It’s not a surprise. Ray Charles could have seen this one coming.

As a vacation destination for US consumers, Missoula and Bangor and Santa Fe have more value to offer than Cuba… actually, a whole lot more.

And now, right on the fake news cue, some in the media are implying that these airline cuts are due to the Trump Administration’s revisions, making it harder for individuals to visit the Worker’s Paradise 90 miles off our coast, and making it difficult for US companies to sell lots of products to the eager Cuban economy.

You bet… we’re told that the “people to people” thing was a sure winner… bringing citizens together and building new friendships between our two countries. We were told that the Cuban economy was going to be a demand bonanza for US goods.

Somebody lost chain of custody of these folks’ last drug test.

People-to-people? Super… if they could talk freely, the Cubans could tell us all about how they have no right to vote, that they have shortages of key goods, their pay rates are at the subsistence level, and that they can’t travel freely out of the country.

Fact is that we can talk to Cuban citizens all we want. They can’t talk to their own government, so only people incredibly naïve could buy into that dishonest “people-outreach” garbage lauded by the last administration.

Oh, yeah. All that great business opportunity? Except for a hotel deal or two, or a highly-publicized deal where some company will supply hand-tractors to the primitive farming system in Cuba, there is no business base.

And, by the way, the US embargo has nothing to do with this. Cuba can buy whatever they want from the rest of the world. Their economic system has trashed the place to the point where they can’t.

Worse, most of the companies that do exist are run by the same Cuban military that makes sure there is no dissent among the populace. Message: doing business with them won’t help the Cuban people, but just enrich the thugs running the Cuban military.

These are just a couple of points that won’t be on the 6PM news. Not politically-correct, see.

But they are core reasons that any major level of US-Cuba air travel demand simply does not exist.

Airlines Should Be Thanking Trump. For the airline industry, however, all the media drivel about new restrictions killing off demand (that was never there in the first place), is a super excuse to get out of a lot of cash-burning flying,

In point of fact, the hard truth is that whatever Trump may have done or might do in regard to Cuba policy, it is a total non sequitur in regard to the traffic levels that airlines have experienced long before such actions were taken.

Other than Havana, most of the traffic is nonsense.

And even there, plan on more US-HAV markets dropped like a baby grand out of the 8th floor in the coming months.

Let’s Look At Some Numbers. As for Sun Country, they had the rights to fly from MSP to Santa Clara and Matanzas/Varadero.

Facts be known, most folks in the Twin Cities wouldn’t know these places from a medianoche sandwich.

So, accessing Aviation DataMiner, let’s take a look at the stellar demand from the US to these points through the end of April:

Point: if American and Southwest can’t make these markets a go from SE Florida – where over 60% of Cuban-Americans are located, the chances of Sun Country Airlines getting walk-up, individual demand  or even group movements, from MSP are right up there with winning the national lottery on Mars.

Here are a few other stellar examples of how the Cuba market is tanking… and, again, it’s likely that the yields  on these flights are not warming the hearts of airline CFOs, and the costs of doing business at Cuban airports probably are no bargain, either.

And, then there’s Havana….

Better load factors, but not anywhere near system averages, and you can take it to you bookie that the yields are close to bargain-basement and the costs or Cuba operations are in the stratosphere.

Bottom line: Until there are changes inside the cleptocratic Cuban government, and until  Cubans are allowed more freedom than inmates at a minimum security prison, and until the business base (such as it is) gets out of the control of the totalitarian Cuban military, US airlines can just sit and wait.

Trend Forecasts…The Advantage For Our Clients. We’d again point out that BGI forecasts outlined this situation in a comprehensive study in 2009, and an updated one two years ago. Somehow, we didn’t see any of the rest of the players in the aviation consulting business come out on this subject.

Also, our work was not well accepted by the travel industry, which by and large totally ignored most of the hard realities of Cuba, and instead trumpeted how Cuba was the Next Big Thing.

Now that the Cuban vapor hole is  as obvious as Osama Bin-Laden showing up at a Bar Mitzvah,  watch for the “reports” and studies coming out in early 2018 from the Usual Suspects in the consulting sector, “predicating” a decline in expected performance of US-Cuba  markets.

It’s always safe to predict the obvious.


Airline Marketing Alliances… Nothing’s In Stone

Last week, China Southern let it be known that they’re looking at moving out of the SkyTeam alliance, in light of American’s minority share purchase in the Guangzhou-based airline.

With the opening of the huge new Daxing airport in Beijing in 2019, China Southern is expected to have a substantial connecting operation – which would compete with the one expected to be established by co-SkyTeam member China Eastern.

So, plan on China Southern joining the oneworld alliance, which will finally give American a true Chinese airline partner, above and beyond what’s already in place with Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific. This will open China-US traffic access to new levels.

Cathay’s oneworld membership, however, may not be one to make book on the next time you’re in ‘Vegas. Seems that Qatar Airlines, recently defrocked of its code-share with American, has bought a nearly 10% share of Cathay.

And speaking of Qatar, they’ve announced that they are dropping service to DFW, because of, they say, AA’s decision to cancel their  code-share agreement.

It’s more of a great excuse, code-share or not. The traffic wasn’t setting any records.

Qatar’s load factors are around 69% at DFW, not much better than neighbor Emirate’s 66%, which doesn’t have any code share traffic at DFW.


The “Pilot Shortage” – Choking Air Service?

Anybody In the Airport Industry Want To Speak Up & Take A Leadership Role?

It is a clear fact that airlines are having difficulty attracting candidates to the pilot profession. The need to accumulate a now-required 1,500 hours of experience is a huge financial barrier.

But, according to the dogma behind the rule, this will make us all safe from the tragedy of flight 3407, which crashed on approach to Buffalo in 2009.

Declare Anyone Who Disagrees A Heretic. News stories have illuminated that a proposed appointee to the NTSB has gone on record that the 1,500 hour rule, passed  after the Continental/Colgan crash, does little by itself to avoid what happened that night.

The media response was like lightening – this guy wants to cut back on safety! Facts not necessary, by the way.  Wider discussion not needed.

At the congressional hearings to vet this appointee, several  politicians grabbed their soap boxes to denounce this candidate’s refusal to accept the wisdom of the rule.

He correctly pointed out, however, that the NTSB findings faulted training and oversight at the operator, not pilot time.

He also had the audacity to point out that this 1,500 hour rule – which is so zealously defended as the lynchpin of safety by certain lobbyist sectors and in the me-too media – wouldn’t have kept either of the incompetent pilots out of that cockpit.

The fact is that they both had more than this supposed sliver-bullet minimum. The fact is, then, that this sacred rule isn’t a solution to the issues that caused loss of life.

Do Not Even Suggest Alternative Solutions. Here’s the bottom line: open discussion and exchange of ideas on this subject are closed.

“The science has been decided,” as it were, and anybody who dares suggest that the pilot time rules put into effect  need to be reviewed, is attacked and pilloried like heretics  during the Inquisition who didn’t fully agree with the Pope.

It’s actually unsafe to even suggest alternatives.

If Airports Are Affected, Where’s The Input? That brings us to the airport industry. If airports are losing air service access due to this rule – which, again for clarification, would not have prevented the Buffalo accident – then maybe the airport industry may want to take a stand.

Maybe call for additional scrutiny of what can be done to keep skies safe and air transportation un-choked.

There are solutions that can be explored in regard to increasing safety.

But the 1,500 rule by itself doesn’t eliminate the causes of 3407.

Southwest – A Snapshot of Fundamental Changes

We thought it might be interesting to take a look at where Southwest is today v the year 2000.

Using Aviation DataMiner, we compared the key metrics for the top 10 WN airports in 2017 v those in 2000. Very revealing – it’s an airline that, other than its core focus on customer service, isn’t much the same as it was back then.

Note that two of the 2017 top ten – Denver and Orlando – weren’t on the Southwest route map in 2000. They are now lynchpins in Southwest’s traffic flows.

The percent change in key metrics indicate an airline with a route system fundamentally different than in 2000…

The real metric of interest is the change in average passenger trip at each city, showing how the reach of Southwest has expanded. It’s not a short haul airline, despite some veneer media lore. In fact, the average passenger LOH has gone from 546 miles to just over 900 between 2000 and 2017.

This also indicates the criticality of connecting traffic for Southwest. Point-to-point is important, but its revenue streams are increasingly reliant on connecting passengers across its operations at MDW, PHX, HOU, STL, etc.

Just One Example of The Insights Delivered By Aviation DataMiner. In aviation planning, access to hard, analytical data such as this is critical – and that means going beyond what comes off of raw BTS websites. Aviation DataMiner delivers the analytical firepower that gives industry professionals the competitive edge.

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ATC Reform & The Mob Approach To Management Change

Anybody remember Paul Castellano?

He was the Don of one of the most powerful “families” in New York.

Nevertheless, he got whacked by his underlings in a high-profile hit as he arrived at a Midtown restaurant in 1986.

It seems they disagreed regarding management issues, but had no disagreements about the underpinnings of the family activities themselves.

It resulted in a complete management change in the family. But at the end of the day, the family continued to do business just as it did before Big Paul met his untimely demise. Just new faces at the top.

“Reform” – Whacking The FAA… But Keeping The System. What took place long a go on New York’s eastside is pretty much along the lines of the current hoopla around whether to “reform” and privatize the air traffic control system, or leave it in the clumsy control of a bungling government agency.

That’s what’s on the table. Change of management. Not a change of fundamental direction. Not implementation of a system of accountability for results. Not any discussion of whether the failure to achieve material improvements in airline schedule performance may be due to the NextGen program itself.

The reform crowd, not to put too fine a point on it, only wants to clip the current ATC Don – the FAA – and take over the “family” – the air traffic control system.

And like the capos who wanted Big Paul out, the ATC reform folks have no quarrel with the core business activities of the current FAA Don. They just want control – in this case, that means control of the NextGen program.

Flaw: Confusing “Reform” With Results. As a factual matter, neither side in the ATC squabble have any quarrel with what the FAA is actually doing… they have no criticism whatsoever on NextGen. it’s just the management style they disagree with.

Nothing personal – it’s strictly business. And will lead strictly to non-results, either way it plays out.

Sound & Fury Signifying The Wrong Direction. The noise surrounding whether the air traffic control system should be “reformed” or left in the blundering cloak of the FAA gets louder – and more irrelevant – with every press release from either side.

The “reform” crowd all contend that putting the ATC system under a semi-private structure will result in a new modernized system. These are sometimes accessorized with un-supported and frankly fruitcake predictions that “reform” will massively cut airline delays by double-digit amounts.

The anti-reformists are warning that privatizing ATC will be devastating to the air transportation system, as they claim it will turn it over to the evil airlines, who’ll certainly use to make more money at the expense of the consumer.

A key tenet of the anti-reformists is that privatization will result in small communities losing air service – a contention completely concocted and being nothing more than a desperation fear-grenade… not much different from the clowns that claim an end to EAS will close airports.

The point in all this is that neither side has a clue.

Neither side has a problem with the ATC NextGen “family business” – which is a fraudulent scandal that both want to continue to worship and retain.

Neither side has promulgated any fundamental changes in ATC modernization. Nobody has dared mention that NextGen has a rap sheet of failure longer than I-95. Nobody has suggested structural changes that address the bungling at the FAA for the last 30 years.

Both sides agree, apparently, that NextGen is the answer… they only differ on how it should be managed… or, mismanaged.

Now, It’s In The Airlines’ Court. What is becoming more and more clear is that the path to improving air transportation efficiency does not lie entirely within the FAA or the ATC system. It’s now the responsibility of the airlines themselves.

It’s clear that ATC – which is intended to maintain separation of aircraft – isn’t a solution to the entire range of issues and dynamics that have resulted in virtually no material improvement in “on-time” performance in the last decade.

GAO studies on ATC (the majority of which by the way, do not blame funding for the mess the FAA has created with NextGen)  have noted that the actual causes of airline off-schedule operations are not fully understood. In some cases, the ATC system is the cause. In others, airport congestion. In others, sheer dimbulb operations management by airlines.

But one thing is now certain: this hype about “reform” fixing the system is based on bogus assumptions and PR doggerel. The anti-reform reactionists are even less credible – they don’t want to change a thing.

This is not to say that ATC modernization should not be taken away from the klutz-masters at the FAA. It just illuminates that whether “reformed” or remaining in the status-quo, there is no ATC-based solutions on the horizon.

So, rest assured that nothing is going to change. Both sides want to retain the problem, under different management systems.

Airline Financial Analyses  – Consider With Caution

Southwest just reported September results.  We came across a very interesting review of the carrier’s performance.

A couple of key measures declined Y-O-Y, such as load factor and revenue passenger miles, leading this source to declare that the airline’s performance as “disappointing.”

The report wallowed around, decrying a decline in RPMs of 4.5%, a lower load factor and other danger signs that were shown as prima face proof that Southwest was in decline in September.

Summarizing the veneer understanding of the airline business, this financial report declared…

“…Load factor (the percentage of seats filled by passengers) decreased 250 basis points (bps) to 81.7% in September. The key metric fell since the contraction in traffic was more than that in capacity leading to empty planes…”


Read that again, dig the comments within the context of airline industry metrics, and consider this comes from a source that postures itself as a reliable reference for investors.

The first red flag is the term “250 bps” to describe the decline in load factor. Nobody awake, sober and with even a high-school knowledge of the airline business uses “basis points” to measure changes in load factor. That’s a financial term, not one used in airline data.

Then, the contention that’s lethal to the report’s credibility. “… leading to empty airplanes…”

Misleading, unprofessional, and stupid.

That can only be described as a sure sign the writer might not be expert in the airline industry, particularly where the airline had a nearly 82% load factor.

The uninformed reader gets the impression from this posturing “expert” that WN routinely flew empty flights, which was not the case. It does not say that the average passenger load, system-wide, was 2.9 fewer passengers on a fleet with an average of 149 seats per flight.

It does not say that a few more seats on average were unoccupied. It does no explanation of any shifts in the WN route system that could explain this.

No running from it. The report states  clearly that Southwest was flying “empty airplanes” due to the decline in load factor.

That is fake news. To the consumer, that means nobody on the plane. If one is taking investment advice, a whole lot more informational precision might be expected.

On the basis of this, the source advises investors to dump their Southwest stock.

A Couple of Airline Metrics Not Considered. Now, Southwest is a big boy airline and can certainly deal with this half-baked financial reporting for themselves.

But there have been changes in the WN fleet and route system over the past year, and there are no danger signs regarding out-of-control route expansion, over capacity, or consumer issues.

We’d maybe point out that just reading SEC documents and Form-41 data, without full analysis and understanding of what’s behind them, or of the airline’s known and expected strategic direction, is a veneer way to make determinations on whether the airline’s future is going in the right direction.

There are a lot of strong airline analysts out there. But…

Caveat Emptor.

Fleet Trends –

The #1 Factor In Air Service Access Planning

Here’s a reality that most ASD programs completely ignore:

Air access for communities across the nation is dependent on the structure of the airline system, and that structure has changed and will continue to do so.

Point: what was in place in the past is not an indicator for the future.

One of the key flaws in most of the traditional “air service development” programs still being foisted on communities is the failure to recognize, anticipate and harmonize with the fallout from fundamental changes in airline economics.

Instead, most of these ASD programs simply chase efforts to bring back the past… a past which the airline industry has moved out of.

Accommodating The Future, Instead of Trying To Recreate The Past.  It’s the responsibility of airport and community planners to recognize this reality and craft access programs accordingly.

The #1 determining factor for the US air transportation system is the fleets that airlines will be operating.  Gone are the hundreds of <50 seat turboprops flying defined route systems in the 1980s – along with the independent airlines that operated them. Coming in are larger units of capacity at major carrier systems, and these airplanes have different mission capabilities than the units they replace. That means lots of new applications, and the fact that many others may not be as economically viable as in the past. Going away are the small “regional” jets that were ten years ago touted as the future.  Take a look at the realities that have emerged in the last ten years – exampled by comparing schedules for the 2nd half of 2017 v that of 2007. This shows a fundamental change in airline economics and in the air transportation system. Not only are there four (soon to be five, with the AS/VX merger) fewer airline systems, and there are still 13% fewer airline flights... but with 2.6% more seats. Tellingly, the average size aircraft has gone up over 18%...  Delta’s average departure seats are up 26%. Frontier – completely changed in structure – has gone from an average of 117 seats to 163, with the deletion of Q-400s from its fleet and a shift to being a ULCC. The clear message here is that the airline industry of ten years ago is gone, and the evolution of the current system will continue. Put The Leakage Study Down. Turn Off The Random Consumer Surveys. The key to assuring air access for communities is to first recognize that the air transportation system has changed. Tossing $30K at a blind study to “find more airlines” is an abominable waste of money, because for every airport in the USA, the potential “more airlines” – if any – are clear from the start. Doing random consumer surveys of “what the community wants”  is a useless exercise, because the real determinant of airline route planning is where airlines can put their fleets to make the most money. Communities & Airports: The Global Future Demands A Comprehensive Access Plan. Today, air service is just one channel of communication, within a constellation of channels, all of which are changing. As small communities are discovering, the capabilities of using aircraft as a channel from the local airport are vaporizing. As the chart shows, the reality is that the air system  has consolidated and the bar for supporting scheduled flights at the local airport is going up. Doing more studies, more surveys, forming more “task forces” won’t change this. These tend to gather numbers, but not solutions. For economic growth – for all regions of the country – there needs to be a realistic Comprehensive Global Access Plan that deals honestly and bluntly with these realities. First Step: Bottom-Line Solutions. Bottom-Line Data. At the 22nd Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit, August 26-29th, the entire event will deliver insights and perspectives that address the realities of future. On the 27th, our pre-Summit workshop program will include Air Access Realities & Opportunities 401 – geared to bringing attendees up to date on the trends in air transportation, within the context of current and expected airline strategic trends. Bring your board... they need to hear this. Because fleet trends are critical to air access planning realities, all global aircraft manufacturers will be presenting their views of the future – Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, Bombardier and Mitsubishi. The airline industry will be there. Big time. Not only will there be presentations from CEOs and executives from most of the airlines on the chart (plus several global carriers), but there will be over 70 total airline staff at the event. So, bring your business cards. For a look at the complete agenda, click here. Then hit the back button and register. Our regular attendees will tell you, at the Summit, we look at the future – and sometimes that’s disruptive. But all progress is disruptive. For entities that plan for it, it’s a competitive opportunity. Advanced Airport Forecasting To Be Delivered At The IAFS™ It’s sort of like a roadmap for a territory that no longer exists. That pretty much describes the annual FAA Aerospace Forecasts. They are located nowhere near industry realities. Air Traffic Volume Is no Longer The Caboose On The Economic Metrics Train. Take a look at the latest FAA Terminal Area Forecast. Or the annual FAA Aerospace Forecasts. They are supposedly the Source Perrier of futurist aviation information. Lots of data. Lots of analysis and discussion of things like economic growth and fuel costs, and loads of review of various economic factors. Graphs and charts galore. These, somehow, are implied to be the factors that underpin air passenger traffic volume. The basis of air travel levels is just a product of these metrics, they contend. That all that’s needed, according to the FAA's methodology. Voila! We have a forecast! Easy. Simple. Mechanical. Mathematical. And today, completely in another galaxy from he real world of airline economics, discretionary spending patterns, and the role of air travel in the consumer economy. It's all next to useless as a planning tool. The Fantasy Airline System. Then there are great tables of things like passenger traffic carried by what they call “major” carriers and “regionals” – which is a definition that was fine in 1985. But today, that airline system is gone. Message to the FAA: there are no independent “regional” airline route systems, not to mention any such entities to operate them. Splitting them out is not only misleading, but shows a woeful failure to know about the subject matter. Today, we have a number of certificated carriers like SkyWest and Envoy and ExpressJet and Air Wisconsin that lease their aircraft to American, Delta, United and Alaska, who then use these resources within their fleets. And often right alongside the airplanes they lease in from folks like BOC or ILFC. These are not distinct airlines. But the FAA still thinks they are independent operators with independent business planning and their own passenger base. Completely inaccurate. Air Travel: Increasingly A Consumer Discretionary Option. The FAA’s methodology has been out in the far reaches of non-reality for the last 25 years. But today, it’s downright dangerous as a source for airport planning. The point is that the FAA has completely failed to adjust its forecast methodologies to reflect the fact that air travel volume is today also a competitor for discretionary dollars. The ULCC expansion is one example. So, thinking that raw economic  metrics can project where traffic volume grows is nonsense. The New Factors – And They Move Around. FAA methodologies were useless in predicting traffic changes at points like Memphis, RDU, San Jose and CVG, where subjective corporate decisions caused passenger volume to spike up and down. FAA forecast methodologies are useless in predicting where Frontier will decide to offer seats at prices that then compete in the consumers’ budget with a new refrigerator or re-papering the living room, or just leaving the dough in the bank. FAA forecasts were not in play when Allegiant started service at Elmira. Nor were they in play to give projections that both American and Delta would pull out of that same airport. The bottom line is that except in cases where airport master plans still need to address variances from the TAF, FAA forecasts should be left on the electronic shelf. Airports Planning For The Future Will Be In Las Vegas, August 26-29. At the International Aviation Forecast Summit, we’ll be presenting the latest Airports:USA® Enplanement Forecasts. Airports:USA® goes way beyond just economic metrics and outlines the emerging trends that airport and aviation planners need to include in their projections of the future... -Changes in fleets, such as the retirement of small jets and turboprops, and how these will alter airline strategies -Issues such as “hub-choke” and how this can change the relative value of feed traffic – and airline capacity decisions -We’ll be exploring how to address the effects of ULCC expansion, and the general factors regarding the economic underpinnings of such service -The IAFS™ was the first to forecast the value of large non-hubsite airports to foreign carriers, looking to feed their on hubs. Now we see places like MSY, AUS and BNA gaining this access... and it will have effects on regional travel patterns as well. -Expansion of discretionary-dollar international flights. The entry of Norwegian, WOW and other international ULCCs will have differing effects from those that will derive from global network carriers such as British entering airports such as the above -Road-hubbing will expand. Consumers will “hub” to airports that offer the best value. The truth is that airplanes as a mode of transportation are increasingly time-inefficient and cost-inefficient in serving small communities. As has been seen repeatedly at local airports such as Topeka and Naples, whatever service that can be supported is a consumer-dud to other alternatives Plus, Base Forecasts For 146 US Airports & Discussion of Potential Disruption. This year, we’ll be talking about not only the traffic based on known and identified trends, but we’ll be outlining the potential disruptive factors that may come into play in regions of the nation. This is a session that will deliver whole new perspectives to airport planning. They will arm attendees with information that will be invaluable in addressing and optimizing the future. Get with the future! Click here for more information on the IAFS™ and to register. Has Good Sense Left The Building? This past week, there were a couple of news items that would indicate that chain of custody was lost at couple of organizations’ random drug testing. Hey, Let’s Build A Couple of Hub Airports In Ohio! Last week, some state politicians got step ladders and climbed on to soapboxes and announced plans to build not just one, but two, “hub airports” in the State of Ohio. They grandly noted that the two airports would attract all those international carriers that are just hankerin’ to toss 787s into the Buckeye State. See, these new hub airports would have rail service from all major commercial centers in Ohio, which would just have carriers come a runnin’ to invest in a connecting hub at each one. Now, to be clear, the august solons noted that this $10 to $15 billion project would be dependent on a carrier agreeing to put a hub at one of the nowhere-near-population proposed airports. That notwithstanding, they went ahead with plans to form commissions and task forces to “study” the idea. And these politicians can’t understand why they are held in less esteem than the guys in plaid jackets peddling cars with sawdust in the transmissions. Let’s Engage Who Does Not Want To Engage Last week, there was a low-credibility “study” issued by some advocacy group that determined that any attempt by the Trump Admiration to roll-back Obama’s outreach to Cuba would result in disastrous damage to sectors of the US economy. Get this... a roll-back of jive-time "outreach" to a nation that can't supply soap to its citizens will cost the US a huge economic hardship. And the tooth fairy has no dental coverage, either. They estimated billions – yes, billions – of damage to the US airline industry, plus thousands of lost jobs. Seems they didn’t get the memo that there is very little non-VFR traffic between the US and Cuba – to the point that US airlines have dropped or pulled back on service levels. They didn't get the message that Cuba has zero business base and even less interest in building one. Of course, the “study” demanded that the US continue “outreach” to the Cuban government, which is one of the most disgustingly repressive regimes since Idi Amin rushed off to a permanent vacation in Saudi Arabia. Here’s a flash from the only consulting firm that’s done independent research on the potential for US-Cuba travel: the ball is in the court of the cleptocracy Castro administration. They are the ones resisting new investment. They are the ones denouncing the US, while their system dooms Cuban citizens to the lifestyles of  the poor and indigent. And these US do-gooders act as if changing this is just a matter of more presidential kowtowing to a fourth rate totalitarian dictator. One yo-yo Senator from Vermont demanded that Trump do more to engage the Cuban people in "dialogue." The same Cuban people who have no say with the clowns who have been running Cuba into an economic vapor hole for over half a century. What is particularly disgusting is that organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce reportedly have jumped on this nonsense – as if more “outreach” will dislodge a corrupt, repressive regime that has trashed the economy of what could be one of the hemisphere’s most vibrant nations. Hey, US Chamber, are human rights less important to you than trying to get a good deal with a communist dictator? Guess not. They give capitalism a bad name. Fact is, they are opportunists, not capitalists – and not very good at that, either. They probably have a bust of Neville Chamberlain in their headquarters. With a votive candle in front of it. ________ But, On The Other Hand... Finally! An honest review of the Essential Air Service Program... Traditionally, EAS has been a safe subject for “investigative” stories on government waste. But let Trump try to zap it, and suddenly it’s been described as a pillar of the economy of small communities, even those where the program is demonstrably a scandalous waste. Now comes a story on the subject from Traverse City, that does actually look into the total EAS picture, instead of the trendy nonsense that most of the media regurgitate. Click here for some intelligent review of the EAS program. Accurate reporting on the program is rare. ________________ And If You’re At Jump Start, Stop By This week, we have a team and a booth at Jump Start in Providence. If you’re in the hall, do stop by and say hello to Bill Oliver and Dan Cohen. They can give you more information on the exciting things happening this August at the International Aviation Forecast Summit, at the Wynn Las Vegas, August 26 – 29th. One of the things that airports and airport board members shouldn’t miss is the pre-Summit optional Workshop program. We have none other than Ben Baldanza doing a special session on the new Airline Economics... this will open eyes... Then, we have a special event regarding drone issues, which will be important to every US airport... Fuel and the effects on future air service? Ben Brockwell of OPIS will give a session on how shifts in fuel prices will shape where and how airlines will fly in the next 18 months. Then, there’s a special Air Access 401 session, which will illuminate the future of building air access, and avoiding the expensive pitfalls of traditional “air service development” schemes. If you’re not registered for the IAFS™ and the Workshops, do so now, by clicking here. _______________ And If You’re At International Travel Pow Wow In Washington... Stop by and say hello to our partners at China Ni Hao. The CNH team will be showing the thousands of other exhibitors – including US airports - how implementing a China-Welcome™ program can deliver a bigger share of the 4 million Chinese visitors expected to the USA this year. Our colleagues Chris Spring, David Zhou, C.K. Tong, and Mike Boyd will be circulating among the thousands of travel companies and communities, and discussing how outreach to this segment can be an airport’s ace in the hole in attracting more international visitors. According to BGI forecasts, the US can expect over 28 million visitors from China in the next five years. Every community and airport is in the play. For more information, click on to ________________________ First Off This Week Hainan Adding More Las Vegas Capacity We’re excited to note that Hainan Airlines will be up-gauging its LAS-Beijing service this summer to 787-9 aircraft, barely seven months after start of service on the route. McCarran is ready. Their  China-Welcome™ program has been showcased in the global press – and also within the Chinese airline industry. In addition to the Hainan service, McCarran also supports over 340,000 passengers from China via connecting flights, making the program an important part of the airport’s positioning for more nonstops from China. McCarran’s comprehensive approach to welcome these visitors with appropriate but unobtrusive signage in Chinese, Mandarin-speaking uniformed Ambassadors to assist, and anticipative wayfinding throughout the arrival and departure processes, has earned LAS a growing reputation in China. Other Chinese carriers are taking notice. McCarran stands out. One of the initiatives has been a comprehensive WeChat app that proactively acquaints McCarran International with Chinese consumers. This app, designed along the lines of those at Beijing and Shanghai’s airports, positions McCarran way ahead of other US gateways – not only being a complete guide for their Chinese guests, but also putting the airport literally in the pockets of millions of consumers in China. McCarran is ahead of the curve. over the next five years, 25 million Chinese will visit the USA, and it's destinations and airports that plan ahead will capture them. If your airport and community are interested in attracting more of these new-generation travelers, it's not a complicated process. Just give us a call, or log on to to discover how a tailored China-Welcome program can work for you. And Join Your Colleagues For A Special China Event. On August 26, BGI will be holding the 3rd Annual China-US Travel Opportunities Symposium. The event will cover how US airports and venues can tailor their own China-Welcome™ programs to attract this high spend sector. Click here for details. Special Rate For IAFS Attendees, Too. And if you’re joining us for the International Aviation Forecast Summit, which kicks off the next day, there’s a special rate to add the China Symposium, too. _____________________ Laptop Bans – The Next 9-11 Hit To Airlines? A Torpedo At The Foundations of Air Travel It’s expected that Homeland Security will shortly ban laptop computers from the cabins of airliners arriving from Europe. This is in addition to flights from specific Middle Eastern airports. For whatever reason, the threat appears to be not whether explosives can be installed in laptops, because in the cargo bin or the economy cabin, anything that goes boom is not going to have a happy ending. The threat, apparently, is something that the security folks fear can be done from the keyboard while on the flight. Flights From Oman or From Omaha – Is There A Difference? Okay, it doesn’t take an MBA from Wharton to figure out that if this threat can be present on a flight from LHR or CDG, it could also be a threat on domestic flights, too. Airline CEOs: Battle Stations. Get the picture? Think about it... what would be the fallout if laptops are banned from US airliner cabins across the board? Even as distant a possibility as this may appear, if it were implemented, the entire underpinning of the value and missions of the US air transportation system will be changed. And not in a way that Warren Buffet will approve of. No Laptop. Can’t Do Business. So Cancel The Business Trip. These devices are now essential parts of business travel. If they are required to be checked as luggage, a whole passel of changes would need to be made to how airlines handle  airport processing, all of which will make air travel even more unpleasant than just having to stand in the 50-person-long  “priority boarding” line an hour before departure. Let’s be real - it’s real doubtful that most frequent business travelers are going to want to check a bag with only a laptop in it for a one-day trip to Chicago. Or be real confident about his/her MacBook Pro, with all of the important stuff on the hard drive, getting tossed into the front bin of a 737, along with all sorts of other roughly-handled stuff. First, the potential for damage to the electronic device is always a concern. Second, most airlines charge for checked luggage. Sure, a lot of the affected travelers would be “mineral level” frequent flyers with free bag checking, but a lot are not. This will not go well with consumers. Finally, the extra  time and hassle will be enough to force a lot of travel onto electronic  services. Plus the extra baggage volume would be a hit to the airlines, the $25 fee notwithstanding. Certainly, the airlines could devise a gate-check-and-pick-up system just for electronic devices, but it would be incredibly labor-intensive. Security Is Protecting Our Way of Life, Not Giving In. The number one failure of the fiascos called Homeland Security and the TSA has been incompetent, amateur and unfocused planning from day one. It started with W actually congratulating the folks in charge of AVSEC for their fine work - within hours after 9/11, and has played though the last 15 years with reactive programs like removing shoes and not having more than 3 ounces of Grecian Formula in your carry-on. Security demands formulating actions and programs that protect our way of life. Electronic devices such as laptops and tablets are critical parts of our communication channels. If the threat of terrorism results in the inability of consumers to carry now-needed electronic devices in air travel, that means there will be less travel. Period. It also means that terrorism has again triumphed – we’re running from it, not countering it. One can only hope that the new people at Homeland Security and the TSA are more competent than the placeholders there in the past 15 years. The first test will be how they deal with countering this apparent threat involving use of electronic devices on airliners. The historical track record is not comforting. Open Season On The Airline Industry It’s Okay To Fire First - And Not Worry Too Much About Realities Every year, about this time, we are regaled with various consumerist “reports” on the airline industry. In most cases, facts not in evidence are not a matter of concern. According to the media stories, a trip on an airline today is getting close to winning a vacation to Devils Island. You may be bumped off a flight – to read all the recent stories. Taking a flight is the equivalent of lottery odds to get to your destination. Plus, you may be summarily dragged off the plane by thugs looking to give the seat to another passenger. The recent United debacle – which will almost certainly be the subject of future university studies in public relations disasters – has only fueled a blizzard of media coverage that has about as much relationship to air transportation realities as a letter to Santa Claus. Watch For New "Studies" In The Pipeline. In addition to soapbox hearings in congress, we can now be certain that there shortly will be a number of hard-hitting “consumerist” reports that will once and for all convict airlines of the crimes they have committed against the consumer... It will be the usual laundry list from folks who can’t tell a T-100 from a grocery list. The types who take raw BTS and DOT data they don't understand and then posture themselves as experts with revelations the great unwashed in the provinces should take as gospel, as definitive proof of the evils of the airline business in the US. No Need To Check Facts. Just Get What's Needed To Support A Pre-Conviction of Guilty. Look for conclusions like how a few airlines are “dominating” hub airports. Or cutting off small and mid-size communities arbitrarily from the air transportation system. A staple of these kind of Charmin reports is to use veneer stats comparing the flight activity at Memphis in 2002 (when it was a connecting hub) and comparing it with today, thereby bamboozling the public with the conclusion that MEM has lost dozens of important-to-the-economy nonstop flights. They usually do the same jive and dishonestly-postured comparisons with ex-hubsite airports like Nashville or Kansas City, or Raleigh-Durham, with the conclusion that these lost nonstop routes were supported by the local demand. Again, veneer data spouted by veneer people that don’t want to tumble to economic realities. Message To Media:  When looking at these types of “studies” - whether they’re  from the high towers of a university, or from some hermetically-sealed intellectual terrariums inside the Beltway - try take the time to check out the conclusions – regardless of the pedigrees of the authors. You may be surprised... don't become the victims of fake conclusions. Often, many of these “studies” are founded on a devout intention to start with a sacred premise, and only deliver the data – or half data – that supports it. So, listen up, media... here are the immediate tell-tale signs of a report done by people who don’t have a clue, beyond the veneer data they can get off the internet.. Amateur Nomenclature: Here's a fact. The nomenclature used by the DOT to describe airports - non-hub, small/medium/large hub - have nothing to do with today's use of the term "hub." Yet a lot of these “studies” tend to simply take numbers and nomenclature right from DOT websites, and assume they’ve just visited the Oracle at Delphi. It’s a sure sign of an amateur, or worse, an advocacy document that started with a premise, and discards anything not supporting such pre-conclusions. For example, if the study refers to “hubs” only within the antiquated airport-ranking system  of the DOT, without any discussion of what an airline hub really is, you can take it to your bookie: the authors don’t understand the data or the current air transportation system. Declaring Airline "Domination of Hubs."  Needless to say this is another clear sign of a report that would do well in a landfill, not in a library. Today “hubs” – i.e., connecting hubs are created by airlines. These writers simply don’t know the difference between the DOT term “hub” and that which airlines operate at airports of their choosing. It’s real easy to take schedule and passenger data from an airport like, say Charlotte, and spew out damning conclusions like: “American Airlines dominates over 90% of the capacity at Charlotte!” Prima face evidence of monopolization and delivering consumers there into single-carrier bondage. Of course, these magnum opuses tend not to honestly identify the fact that almost 75% of those AA passengers are connect traffic, with no connection whatsoever with the local demand at CLT. Or the fact that CLT by itself couldn’t support anywhere near that capacity. But to the folks on the consumer warpath,, there is no other conclusion. Nevertheless, the “study” is either amateur, or intentionally is trying to mislead the reader. (By the way, the AA hub at Charlotte also has the benefit of supporting far more air service to local consumers than the market could otherwise support. That tends to be completely ignored in most of the angry condemnation reports.) Small Airports Being Intentionally Zapped By The Airline Industry. This one is the leper’s bell of a report that has no professional credibility whatsoever. Needless to point out, there is no question that many small airports have seen declines in scheduled air service. But the causes of this are rooted in economic fundamentals, not some evil plan concocted in the airline’s front offices. Ignored conveniently: There have been changes in fleets, as older turboprops are retired. Changes in consumer preferences to drive to a larger airport to take advantage of the flight offerings instead of the 2, 3, or four flights with a single airline brand, which is all the community can support, at best. And a whole passel of other cogent reasons, none of which are due to the Darth Vaders sitting in airline executive chairs. Focusing On Airport Service Instead of Air Access. Another sure sign of ignorance. Today, the most important factor for any region is access from the rest of the global economy. Some of these angry-mob “studies” make the assumption that unless there are scheduled flights at the local airport, the community is cut off from the rest of the world. Today, Topeka , Kansas has no scheduled flights at the local airport. But it has great air service – at Kansas City, an hour or so away from most of the population. In 2014, an attempt with two daily United Express flights to ORD failed miserably. The reason: the 80+ flights, the number of carriers, and the wider access offered at MCI, including the drive, was far more convenient and less time-consuming than trying to shoe-horn a trip to accommodate 2 local flights. Question Everything. Then Report. While the airline industry does have real service issues. (The emotionally-reported incident at United is not a factor. It was a one-off that has not been fully reported beyond selected iPhone videos.) The general impression conveyed by the industry – rightly or not – is one that sets rules that the consumer must follow or pay a financial price. Add to that the hard fact that the number of airlines has declined. Add to that the implementation of code-sharing (supported by a doctored 1986 DOT study) which eliminated about two dozen independent airline brands and ultimately ended completely what was once the regional airline industry. Toss in the fact that aircraft economics and consumer choices no longer allow a lot of air service that 30 years ago could be profitable. All that is true.  And all that is reality... which some of these misleading advocacy documents refuse to recognize. Fact: We have air service issues in the US, and most are due to the two reasons above... economics and consumers. And we have a consolidated airline industry, operating modern fleets that can't assume the missions that were possible with the aircraft of 30 years ago, which are no non-economic. Plus, there is the impression within this context that airlines don't care about whether a consumer flies with them again or not. That's certainly an issue that the industry needs to address more aggressively. Nevertheless, it doesn’t advance the issue when entities take data they don’t understand, apply it to an industry about which they are completely uneducated, and pompously come out with reports and studies that simply try to apply blame, with the unprofessional conclusion that somebody on Capitol Hill can fix it. They’re tilting at control towers. And misinforming the public.