BGI China Expertise

On May 9, Ithaca was added to the distinguished list of clients who have drawn upon the expertise of Boyd Group International and its partner China Ni Hao.

We delivered a comprehensive China-Welcome & Outreach program to civic leaders, specifically tailored to the core educational foundation of the local economy of the region. Today, BGI’s Airports:China forecasts that Central New York generates over 59,000 local Chinese O&D.

Ithaca joins clients Raleigh-DurhamSpokane, Las Vegas and New Orleanswho in just the last year have come to BGI for its expertise in the dynamic and growing China-US market. Every program is carefully related to the specific realities and objectives of the client.

Unlike other entities that claim to provide “China ready” programs, ours focus on building outreach, not just accommodation. Our assistance is developing digital presence in China, including presence on WeChat, Baidu and other channels is unrivaled.

Remember, Chinese visitation and investment is an opportunity for every  US community. Contact us for more information.

July 23, 2018

July 23, 2018

But before we start this week, an update on the #1 Aviation Forecast Event in 2018


It’s important in business, especially aviation. That’s why you need to be at the IAFS… take a look at the array of participants. You’ll hear about the future from the aviation executives that are crafting new strategies and tactics in a whole new aviation system.

And beyond these, we’ll be having over 70 airline staff – from VPs to market planners – at the Summit. At our exceptional social events, as well as throughout the Summit, you’ll have access to the people who are shaping the future.

Pre-Summit Optional Workshops -Take a look at the Workshops offered on Sunday afternoon August 19 – there are more data and planning information here than at other events in their entirety!

So, click here to register and join the #1 aviation event of the year.


July 16 Update 

US Travel & Tourism Industry Leadership:

Confusing Facts With Political Jive

Last week, we covered the misinformation that’s been spouted from some in the travel industry regarding security-focused travel restrictions.

We pointed out how political agendas have polluted the subject.

Unfortunately, the effluent flow just keeps on coming.

Can’t let this one pass without calling them on it… they’re belching out stuff that we, the supposed peons in the provinces, are expected to unquestioningly swallow as gospel because of high titles and an inside-the-beltway address.

Last week, an update from a major Washington travel organization included these statements…

“… For 18 months the entire discussion about the administration’s security policies has been about who can’t come to America; now that SCOTUS has ruled, it is time for the discussion to be about who can come to America. Security is paramount, but the primary message needs to be one of welcome to the 99.9% of travelers the U.S. wants here more than ever. We hope the administration starts that discussion by making it clear that legitimate travelers remain welcome, even as security remains a priority…”

“… Caution remains, though, as negative perceptions abroad of President Trump’s rhetoric and policies continue to pose risks to international traveler sentiment…”

Really? This is one of the most egregious and appalling pieces of misleading doggerel since Pravda was in full swing.

It’s like Willie Sutton doing an op-ed on the need for bank security.

Dare We Question The Vox Deorum? Let’s do something that we out in the provinces are not expected to do… question the High Authorities in Washington. They are the celestial deities, and their pronouncements are to be accepted.

Not this time. The comments above should be an insult to anyone in the travel industry – or the consumer public – who doesn’t cotton to political spin.

Let’s put some of these comments into the cold light of accuracy…

“…The entire discussion … has been around who can’t come to America…”

True. But it was their discussion. They started it. They prolonged it. They engineered it.

From the start it was exactly clear who was and was not included. Who could and could not come to America… it was no secret. Certain countries were deemed to have security issues, and travel from those specific countries was to be temporarily banned. It was a simple matter, involving countries that, truth be known, have nearly zero effect on inbound tourist visitation to the USA.

Unfortunately, some  industry leaders inside the Beltway did absolutely nothing to clarify this. Their party line was that travel bans send the wrong message to the world, which was several galaxies from the purpose and the scope of the limited restrictions imposed by the administration.

They also knew the restrictions were limited to only certain countries and that the restrictions were entirely security-driven. Only now do they bring that into the mix. “Security is paramount?” That wasn’t the party line for the last year and a half.

“…It’s time for the discussion to be about who can come to America,… and the message needs to be one of welcome to the 99.9% of travelers the US wants here more than ever…”

No, it’s not finally “time” to discuss who can come to America and to provide welcome – that was the travel industry’s responsibility to make clear from the gitgo, 18 months ago.. They ignored it, and let the discussion get hijacked into the political weeds.

That message – accurately telling the rest of the world that they are welcome as always – was one that the leaders in the travel industry refused to aggressively trumpet from the start.

Instead, there were blanket denunciations of these restrictions – with zero discussion of the reasons – and the clear absence of any reference to security being “paramount.” Their message – and it was their message – was that visitors across the board and across the world would be turned off.

Actually, as we pointed out last week, the implication was that foreign visitors ought  to be offended, and avoid America. The message from the US travel and tourism leadership to the world was to stay away due to policies that these leaders unilaterally chose – for whatever reasons – to inaccurately define as unwelcoming to all visitors.

“…We hope the administration (makes) it clear that legitimate travelers remain welcome.”

That was never in question, except in the misinformation being implied by some in the travel industry.

We would have hoped the leaders in the travel industry would have been taking that stand… but they did much the opposite.

There was nothing in the proposed travel restrictions – except that intimated by some folks in our own travel and tourism industries – that indicated the US was unfriendly to foreign visitors from the rest of the globe.

If visitors from France, India, Spain, China, etc. were spooked about America not being welcome, well, take a look at the babble coming out of the US travel industry itself over the past year, misrepresenting that limited and defined restrictions aimed at a few specific – and very small – countries were – or were the harbinger of – unfriendly policies across the board.

“…Negative impressions abroad of Trump’s rhetoric and policies continue to pose risks to international traveler sentiment…”

Nice opinion. But remember that the damaging rhetoric has come mostly from the statements of travel industry leaders, or – importantly – their refusal to keep the world informed. The “rhetoric” they accuse the administration of has been focused on security policy, period, and not on international visitation.

Defend America? Well, That Seems To Depend On Other Considerations. And as for “international sentiment” being negative, the leadership in the travel industry has done nothing to adequately counter dishonest and political accusations that have indeed slandered the United States.

Prime example. When these restrictions were painted as racially-motivated “Muslim bans” by highly dishonest people in certain corners of the media, the leaders of the travel industry hid under their rocks, instead of coming out forcefully to counter an accusation that slanders the United States.

Leaders in the travel and tourism industries knew – and now admit – that the number of people affected by these restrictions was far from anything that could be described as a ban on people because of their religious faith.

Yet, they let it ride – and in the process stood by and let our country be slandered.

If there’s been damage to international visitation, this could be one factor – a false image of America that many leaders in the travel industry did nothing to correct.

Bluntly, the leadership across the travel and tourism sectors has failed America.

Instead of being sources of clarifying data and information, many of them chose to stand aside and let misinformation replace clear facts and truth. And in doing so, it is they who need to apologize to America for any damage done in regard to international visitation.

Instead, they now act as if they were just bystanders.

So was Mrs. O’Leary’s cow during the Chicago fire.



July 9, 2018 Update

This week, we’re grabbing the third rail of the travel and tourism industry and the effects of travel restrictions on a few small countries.

Political correctness & politics have polluted the discussion…

Any Damage From Travel Bans…

It’s Travel Industry Leadership That Inflicted It.

Basics: The Travel Industry has taken security-based restrictions from a few countries and is mis-characterizing it as something much different, to the detriment of international inbound travel.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Trump Administration was within its authority to ban travel from a few small countries in the Middle East.

These are countries that have been determined to have major security issues. Hence the travel restrictions. Note, too, that as far as inbound tourism goes, these places aren’t anywhere near the radar screen.

The situation is simple: A few countries, which in total comprise no meaningful global percentage of any racial group or religion, with local security deemed dangerous the US, were included in a travel restriction.

So it should be a simple matter. But it’s been a raw controversy for the better of a year and a half.

On the whole, it’s been a shameful period for much of the leadership across the US travel and tourism industry.


Political Leanings Take Precedence Over Facts.  Instead of accurately discussing the core reasons for the travel bans from these few small and specific countries, these “leaders” instead took to their bully pulpits to imply to the world that the bans were completely unnecessary and discriminatory and simply served to make all foreign visitors feel unwelcome here.

Take this to the bank: Whatever collateral decline in foreign visitation that may have been experienced, supposedly as a result of these travel bans, has been entirely the result of the angry rhetoric from the travel industry itself in completely and loudly mischaracterizing the intent of these actions.

Take a look at the statement from one of the Washington organizations supposedly in place to build travel to America:

“The most important thing is the administration has got to change its rhetoric to welcoming legitimate travelers from around the world because the noise has been so loud around this issue that we’ve been hurt in inbound international travel.”

The “noise” and the political “rhetoric” has been entirely from the supposed leaders in the travel industry. They are the ones who’ve trumpeted the nonsense that a ban on travel from a few places – which were due to security concerns – represented an across-the-board implication that the administration was arbitrarily making the nation look un-welcoming.

The administration never “discouraged” legitimate travelers… if there has been any reduction to in-bound US visitation, it’s because our own travel industry leaders implied to the world that the administration was against free travel from legitimate and safe nations.

Worse, much of the media describes the restrictions as a “Muslim travel ban,” which is a wholesale lie. Unfortunately, the travel industry has been completely silent in any attempts to refute this.

Pretty disgusting.

Concocting Sinister Intentions, Instead of  Illuminating The USA Experience. These folks knew full well that the proposed restrictions were based on security considerations – specific to those few countries – and devoid of any other supposed sinister considerations.

One would have thought that targeted actions to make travel to the US safer would be applauded by people who are supposedly paid to enhance travel. The same people who are paid to illuminate the facts about travel to the USA.

But instead, from the start, a number of these gurus misused their positions of responsibility to turn the issue into one that had little to do with the facts regarding national security.

Go back and do a search, and you’ll find these people making speeches at industry meetings and elsewhere that “travel bans” are bad business for America, and that they deter people in all countries from feeling welcome here.

The message – their message – to the rest of the world: “smart” travelers will reconsider coming here, because the US inflicts discrimination against some countries.

‘Course, the security issue was almost never brought up, and instead, they spread the implication that that these proposed travel bans were simply bad policy.

The inaccurate and misleading message – one that these travel leaders themselves promulgated – was that people from Copenhagen won’t – and by implication, shouldn’t want to – come here if there is a ban on some tiny terrorist-affected place like Yemen.

That is a load of what gets shoveled off the barn floor.

Concocting & Encouraging An Inaccurate Image of America. Once again, to be clear, the message of “not welcome here” was aggressively spread by these travel leaders themselves, by intentionally mischaracterizing a security policy as one that meant the Administration arbitrarily discriminates and doesn’t want foreign travel.

The rhetoric and noise is all theirs.

So, any “hit” to US visitation can be put on their laps, because they are the ones telling the world that the US has been unfriendly to foreigners.

From Blaring Bullhorns, Back To Church Mice. Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, some of these same groups are calling on the Administration to reach out and assure foreign visitors that they are, after all, welcome here.

Funny, but these same travel leaders had no problem reaching out and trumpeting to the world that these bans – based on security considerations – were terrible things and bad for business. Now, they somehow have no voices left. They won’t tell the world that we are – and have been – open and welcoming. Now, it’s supposedly not their position to speak out.

So, going forward, we do need to look to new programs to enhance international visitation… because some of the top (supposed) leadership have so badly mischaracterized this issue.

Pretty sad.


June 25, 2018

Accessing China Business  & Air Access –

It’s An Economic Opportunity For Airports of All Sizes

It’s the next tsunami of business and growth – China.

Regardless of current (and often inaccurate) media stories about a “trade war.”

When the dust settles, the economic relations between China and the US will be stronger than ever. Both countries need each other, but China needs the US market, big-time.

You can take it to ‘Vegas and make book on it. The future growth sector will be coming from China, and it will affect airports across the USA – with or without nonstop flights. New flow traffic channels are developing and the attractiveness of US airports and adjacent property as investment is not being missed as Chinese companies look to expand globally.

… Over 20 million leisure visitors over the next five years, with an average “spend” of over $6,000 each… billions in new investment in US industries, real estate, and new business ventures. And it is aimed at the entire US, not just major cities.

The massive evolution of the Chinese airline and air transportation systems represent huge potential for new China-US flights – and increased connectivity between Chinese commercial centers and secondary US airports.

… As the China air transportation system evolves, plan on seeing a lot of B-registered airliners from several Chinese cities operated by airlines that most folks have yet to hear of, feeding new traffic via alliance partners to points across the USA.

… When the new Daxing mega-airport opens next year in Beijing, the ripple effects will uncork new air access from China… a factor that will represent now-unseen opportunities for US gateways and for connecting/flow traffic to and from secondary US airports.

Getting Your Airport & Community To The Front of The Competition

Boyd Group International and its China Ni Hao team are working with a number of communities and airports in developing aggressive and effective programs to both prepare and to reach out to the Chinese market, as well as to explore air service opportunities.

Large airports and small, too.

Your Competition Is Mired In “Traditional” Approaches. Get Ahead of Them. The traditional trade missions, surrogate marketing offices in Beijing, and an expensive eye-candy Brand USA™ website are no longer enough to cut it competitively.

Communities and their local airports need to go beyond these, and aggressively become China-Welcome™ to underscore these traditional channels, and demonstrate that they have respect and preparation for this new business. Innovation in outreach and positioning will make the difference.

In this area, Boyd Group International has more expertise in the emerging China aviation market than any other consultant.

We’re the only US firm that’s engaged in in-depth research and forecasting of the China opportunity.

– We are unique in that we are focused on trends and major shifts affecting the exploding Chinese air transportation system.

– We’re the only firm that delivers intensive on-site China Symposiums – events that deliver to the client data, forecasts and China business intelligence that other consultants would need to try to research and then would charge the client tens of thousands of dollars for their education on the subject.

That’s because for them, China is an ad-hoc sideline, not a focus of their work.

Join Us At The International Aviation Forecast Summit – And Jump Ahead.

The IAFS™ is the #1 aviation forecast event. And that means that the China opportunity is part of the agenda. In fact, the China-focused segments deliver more actionable data and information than is available anywhere else. Period.

The Airports:China Summit Session – Facts & Forecasts

At the IAFS, full Summit, we present the latest Airports:China™ forecast of traffic and trends. This is business intelligence that is specific to airports and communities that want to enhance their China outreach.

Where the China-US traffic will expand in the next 3 years… Based on known and expected fleet and strategy shifts at Chinese airlines… and our expertise in forecasting the China-US market.

Crafting A Viable Strategy – Why simply seeking “a flight to China” is the wrong way to start, and the reasons why… Matter of fact, a comparison of daily departures from major Chinese airline operations and those at US carriers’ connecting hubs tells the story regarding how to approach gaining China access – one we’ll be explaining at the Airports:China session.

The Evolution of the China air transportation system. We’ll review what BGI has identified as the “Mianyang dynamic” – anticipating and targeting where China-US traffic will be in the future, as China’s economic structure changes. It does portend changes that affect the shifting future China-US air access trends…

Data & Futurist Forecasting – Why reliance on DOT international O&D and T-100 data is not recommended, and how to develop alternatives.

– Forecast: US Airports With Highest Potential For China Access, 2019-2021. Exclusive! As part of the Airports:China forecast, we’ll be outlining the US airports that have the strongest potential for China nonstop flights subsequent to the opening of the new Daxing mega-airport in Beijing.

We’ll discuss the criteria and the dynamics of gaining China air service in this new environment.

Workshop: The China Opportunity – Strategies For Communities and Airports.

If you can get to Denver a little early, one part of the optional pre-Summit Workshop programs includes a session that will deliver exciting business intelligence for airports working to craft their China outreach program

This exciting session will explore:

How to identify and “size” the specific China opportunity.

Cost effective and non-intrusive ways of implementing wayfinding at your airport and community.

How airports and communities can develop cost-effective digital positioning – in China and in the US.

The pitfalls to absolutely avoid – and some aren’t that obvious, either.

Air China And The #1 US Airline To China Are Participating, Too.

Our good friend and colleague, Dr. Chi Zhi-Hang, VP – North America of Air China, will also be presenting a session at the IAFS™ on his company’s view of the China-US Market.

Plus, we’re excited to announce that United Airlines – the #1 US-China carrier – is now a Platinum Sponsor of the IAFS™ and its president, Scott Kirby will be discussing this and other strategic areas.

If you haven’t registered yet, just click here and reserve your space. Early registration rates end on June 30.

So, ! And will see you in Denver August 19-21!


June 11, 2018 Update

Projection: Remainder of 2018.

Traffic Strong – But Airline Systems Are Changing

With the half year mark coming for 2018, it’s clear that traffic levels are tracking with airline capacity.

Boyd Group International’s Airports:USA® forecasts accomplished last year for 2018 indicated enplanement growth in the 4.8% to 5.3% range. As of today, it’s tracking at 5.1%.

That is consistent with the changes in airline system capacity filed for the fourth quarter of 2018. It should not be misconstrued as growth that’s even across the board… there are major changes in airline strategies that are becoming apparent.

Two Airline Systems. Two (Or More) Fundamental Business Models. Non-ULCC carriers are up 5.2% in capacity, while the parallel universe of ULCCs are up 8.3%.  Combining the two systems (which is actually not all that meaningful) the nation is going to see 5.4% more seats than last year.

(Sun Country is not reflected here, as it is expected that it will see major route changes – and expansion – in the 4th quarter that are not yet reflected in filed schedules.)

This is hardly what one could call “over capacity.”  To be sure, the followers of the first six chapters of the Econ 101 textbook will claim that if airlines just cut out seats, then yields will go up. That view – sometimes postured from supposed “experts”  shows a near-zero understanding of the air transportation system.

Expansion Is Not The Same As Adding Capacity. What needs to be understood is that carriers such as United and American – where growth in departing seats is projected at around 7% – are not “adding capacity” – at least in the way that term is traditionally defined. Instead, they are expanding their route systems – going after new revenues, as well as shifting some flying back into mainline jets.

And regarding the latter point, we’ve pointed out that United is on the hunt for more A-319s, and there has been no concurrent retirement program of in-fleet single aisle airliners. Draw your own conclusions – like, some mainline expansion, plus bringing some contract flying back in house. Changes in route structure.

Torpedo On The Loose: Fuel. Clouds on horizon: fuel costs could again set in motion an accelerated retirement of 50-seat jets.

This could have more effects than just the loss of some small-community access. Keep in mind that contract carriers (what are still mislabeled as “regional airlines”) are now considered a major future source of pilots for mainline airline systems. Any substantial cut back in this sector could affect the future flow of pilot candidates.

If You’re Interested In Exploring The New Direction of Aviation, Join Us In Denver. It is important that airport planners have a clear understanding of the major shifts in the economics of air transportation that are evolving. That’s why the International Aviation Forecast Summit is the best investment airports can make in looking to the future.

The Airports:USA® Enplanement Forecast session is one that will cause a complete re-think of how to project air traffic.

Here’s a hint: virtually every one of the traditional econometric factors that once were the foundation of passenger demand forecasting have become completely unhinged from what will happen in the future. We will be covering the new metrics.

IAFS Logo whit backgroundPlus, we’ll be issuing our new White Paper, The New Paradigms in Air Transportation, which is a document that will outline the material changes in how airlines – and consumers – will shape travel patterns.

Here’s another hint: take a look at recent major market moves by certain carriers. These were almost entirely driven by internal long-term planning and corporate strategies, not outside “studies” or jive “leakage analyses” inflicted on supposedly-mind numb airlines. There’s a futurist planning message here.

And these represent just one session and one Workshop at the IAFS™.

American Airlines To Participate. In addition to the CEOs, presidents and senior executives already announced, we are excited to welcome Mr. Kurt Stache, Senior VP-Marketing of American Airlines to the Summit line-up. We’ll be talking with him regarding how AA is visioning the future.

Discussions…Not Panels. As our regular attendees know, the International Aviation Forecast Summit is focused on exploring the future, not wallowing in past data. Our unscripted one-on-one “fireside chats” set a new standard for aviation events – one that no other can match.

Special registration rates are in effect through June 30, so click here and join real aviation leaders in Denver, August 19-21.

Also, if you can get in a day earlier, Boom Supersonic will be hosting a special reception for IAFS™ at their headquarters on the evening of August 18. They’ll be showing the mock up of the 0ne-third size “Baby Boom” proof of concept demonstrator that will fly next year. They’ll also illuminate some of the exciting points regarding the 55-seat Boom airliner. Don’t miss it.

June 4, 2018 Update

Fuel Prices: Changing Air Access Globally & Locally

Jet-A has popped over $2 a gallon – that’s up almost 50% from a little more than a year ago.

What To Watch For. There are two airline operational sectors that get hit the hardest when fuel goes up.

One is super long-haul flying. The cost of carrying the fuel for an 8,000+ mile sector digs into the bottom line, real fast.

The second is regional air access. The impact of increased fuel costs disproportionately affects smaller aircraft, particularly 70-seats and under.

That means the cost of accessing the feed from smaller markets goes up rapidly as fuel gets more expensive.

That points to coming reductions in some small jet flying.

It means that there will be more small airports dropped from network airline route maps .

It also means that the financial hurdles needed to attract or keep major network air access at the local small airport are going to have the trajectory of a moon launch.

One of These Is Marginal… The Other Structural. But cutting back on some ultra-long intercontinental markets will have marginal, if any, effects on the global transportation system… connecting options are still in place. We’ll still be able to get to Delhi or Beijing or Perth.

But in regard to small regional feed markets, the effects will be more permanent.

Up until recently, declining fuel prices have slowed retirement of <70 seat jets from major airline fleets. But this past year has put into motion a set of cost issues that will reverse that dynamic.

Also, the recent retirement of 37-seat turboprops at American and United has resulted in several already-marginal markets receiving 50-seat jets. That’s more seats and higher costs. It means that higher fuel costs will make some of these markets start to generate lots of red ink.

Toss in the pilot shortage issues, and it doesn’t take much to determine the outcome.

Study It All Day Long. The Outcome Won’t Change. This is another future factor that demands new thinking to assure that all of the US has access to the global economy.

It also blows away the nonsense that every small community airport needs to have scheduled passenger flights, or the community will die.

Regionalization is the future, and concocted “leakage analyses” or “true market studies” won’t change these realities. Airlines are interested in making money, not adjusting to conveniently-engineered demographic data.

The  development of new alternative communication channels needs to replace the obsolete and luddite efforts to support air service at some small airports which consumers can’t and won’t use.

Fuel at $2 and above brings economic reality to these fantasies.

Get The Future At The IAFS™ – From Fleets To Fuel

The effects of new fuel realities are just part of what’s changing aviation.

Every year, the International Aviation Forecast Summit takes on issues that are shifting the future, and every year attendees get perspectives that no other event delivers.

Air Access – Big Changes. This year, we’ll be having a special Workshop on our upcoming White Paper on the New Air Service Paradigm. It will present a very different picture of the planning that’s necessary to compete in the global economy.

Airline Executive Perspectives. This year, too, we’ll be discussing key issues, unscripted and direct, with the airline and industry CEOs and executives that will shape the new future. That includes the disruptions in planning caused but the new realities of fuel economics.

Fuel, Too. This year, we are excited to again have Ben Brockwell, CEO of Oil Price Information Services (OPIS) delivering his company’s take on where oil will be going in the coming year.

IAFS Logo whit backgroundIn the past, Mr. Brockwell’s fuel predictions at the Summit have gone completely counter to the consensus, but have proven accurate. But that’s the basis of the IAFS™ – it delivers futurist data and information that no other event gets close to.

New Fleets Changing Air Access. Then, we will have all of the major aircraft manufacturers to present their predictions of how new fleets will change air transportation.

This includes a session from Boom Supersonic, whose intercontinental 2.2 Mach airliner will be in the skies, disrupting airline market and product planning, in a little more than five years.

Networking – Unrivaled. Dozens of airline staff are at the IAFS™ – from all areas of the industry. At the sessions attendees get new perspectives. At the social events, they get contact with the people making the decisions.

So, get a clearer view of what the current fuel trends will mean to commercial aviation by clicking here to reserve your space at the IAFS™, August 19-21.  Click here for details.

Update: Tuesday May 29…

Recognizing US Memorial Day Holiday

Media Stories On Aviation. Caveat Reader.

There are, in fact, several outstanding media professionals reporting on the airline industry.  A number of them are experts on the subject, and by themselves are outstanding sources of knowledge and insight.

However, they are denigrated by a few others in the Fourth Estate who really need to find alternative employment.

In the last few weeks…

Quoting Great Sources…When a JetBlue flight returned to Buffalo after it hit a bird, a random passenger tweeted that the plane hit a seagull – specifically that species – and cracked a turbine blade.

Incredibly, a Fox News story just repeated it. Like, as if it had any informational value. This was regardless of the fact that there was no visual damage to the engine, and the passenger involved probably wouldn’t know a turbine blade from a popsicle.

Yet that was included as a key part of the story. Sources, anyone?

Stretching Hyperbole To The Non-Factual. The New York Times ran an article on how empty Memphis International Airport is, with lots of discussion and pictures of gates left over from when Delta had a connecting hub there.

The tone was vaguely in the direction that the place was a dying, crumbling ghost airport. Actually called it a White Elephant – a term that implies that the airport has somehow screwed up.

But the New York Times conveniently left out the major air service changes at MEM since the elimination of Delta’s hub operation, such as Southwest, Allegiant and Frontier coming to town.

Further misinforming the reader, the story showed a picture of airplane models on a shelf in the director’s office with this flatly stupid, and unprofessional comment: “Scott Brockman, the airport’s chief executive, can often see more planes on his office shelves than at his terminal’s gates.”  An absolutely inane comment that has nothing to do with the status of the airport.

Also missed by the New York Times… local traffic at MEM is actually up from ten years ago, when those now-empty gates were clogged with passengers, most of them connecting on Delta.

Oh, yeah – and MEM fares today, adjusted for inflation, are down 15%.

Consumers and readers would be more interested in these statistics than the contents of the airport director’s office shelves.

Gotta ask: what else in this newspaper is vapor-brain reporting? Or intentionally slanted….

Going Trendy Instead of Factual. And there’ve been the oft-repeated stories on how US airline seats have shrunk in width over the years, this sometimes coming from  supposedly-prestigious financial mediums.

A commonly-reported statistic across the media is that seats are now averaging 16.5 inches across in US airliners. It’s flat out not accurate, but it makes great reading. Fiction often does.

If It’s On In Prime Time, You Shouldn’t Question It. No need to touch on the 60 Minutes story on Allegiant. There have been a number of aviation folks who have taken it on.

Quoting Numbers That They Are Clueless About. Then we have the nonsense reports every quarter after BTS data is posted, when reporters without a clue start confusing “passenger spend” with “average fares” and then compare them across the nation, assuring that nobody gets informed.

Creating “Trends” That Aren’t… How about recent stories regarding “why airliner windows keep cracking,” in light of the Southwest accident and a few other reports since. The fact that none of these events have any causal relationship to one another is blissfully missed.

Point: while the majority of aviation coverage intends to be direct and factual, there are a few decaying apples in the media basket.

Some are just misinformed.

Others, apparently, intend to misinform.


International Aviation Forecast Summit News

United President To Participate At The IAFS™

Once again, we are honored to announce that Scott Kirby, President of United, will be joining us at the International Aviation Forecast Summit in Denver, August 19-21.

ual logo smallMr. Kirby joins CEOs and senior executives from air carriers across the market spectrum and across the globe who will be at the IAFS™ and helping us explore the future.

What sets the IAFS™ apart from other events is that we don’t do boring, rambling and unfocused “panels” of attendees. Instead we focus on free-form one-on-one discussions with the distinguished industry leaders who attend.

If you haven’t registered yet, we’d suggest you do so now. Click here to review the tentative agenda, and then make the decision to come to Denver this August.



Special Reception & Presentations –

Boom Supersonic

If you can get to Denver a day early, you can get an additional view of the future.

Boom Supersonic is hosting a special reception on Saturday, August 18, at its new headquarters and research center at Centennial Airport.

boom airplane300pxBlake Scholl and his team will be outlining the progress of the 55-seat, 2.2 Mach Boom airliner, as well as the one-third scale “Baby Boom” research and proof-of-concept aircraft that will fly in 2019.

Japan Airlines is on-board. So is Virgin Atlantic. So is Ctrip – China’s largest travel-related company.

The world is getting on board. Join us August 18 and discover why

For more information on the Summit, and to register, click here.

Monday Update – May 21, 2018

The Cuba Accident – Be Careful of The Political Spin

In the wake of the tragic crash in Havana, there have been several corollary stories outlining how the national airline – Cubana – is a safety question mark.

It certainly is.

Their fleet is reportedly in a state of functionality just ahead of a Budweiser display, and their operational record is also reported to be a world-beater – in the wrong direction. This has been illuminated in several follow-up stories.

Unfortunately, these articles about Cubana occasionally have been accessorized by completely inaccurate implications that this flying junkyard (once one of the Western Hemisphere’s best airlines, by the way) is due to the embargo on US trade with Cuba.

The political spin: It’s at least partially the fault of the US that Cuba doesn’t have a safe airline.

According to the lore, the US embargo is restricting access to parts for their current fleet, and cuts them off from Western financing for new airliners, which would be easy to get were it not for the nasty embargo. And, according to the spin in one major city newspaper, the embargo forces Cubana to have to wet lease airplanes from second-rate, semi-reputable operators, like the one involved in the Havana crash.

That is all fake news.

Havana Accident: It Was A Mexican Airline… Let’s start with the Havana event… The 737 that crashed was wet-leased from a Mexican operator. There are no US prohibitions or trade embargos or airplane parts deprivation policies that apply to Mexican airlines.

So, if that company had a safety problem, it has nothing to do with any US policy toward Cuba. It’s the Cuban government that hired this airline and its 737-200 that originally entered service with Piedmont in 1979.

An article in the New York Times spun this, implying that this was Cubana’s only option: lease from operators on the edge.

Which is fake – the Times knows that there are lots of companies that wet-lease airliners, and most are safe. It was Cubana’s decision to put its passengers at risk by using the company involved.

Let’s Talk Cubana. It has been reported that just last week a substantial part of Cubana’s fleet was grounded for safety reasons.

Some implications have been made that it’s due to lack of parts, and again, the distant if not direct allegation that it’s due to the US embargo. Cubana, supposedly, can’t get stuff to fix their fleet, and it’s the nasty USA that’s the reason.

The torpedo of truth in this case is that the airplanes that Cubana has sitting grounded – a total of 16 flying machines – include just four – count them, four – western airplanes, all ATR-42/72 turboprops.

The rest are a motley collection of Soviet-designed junk, from TU-204s, to a single IL-96, to several An-158s.

If Cuba’s shopping for airplane parts in the US, they’re out of luck, with or without an embargo.

Check it out… there aren’t a lot of vendors in the US that support the  Soloviev PS-90 engines that are hanging on the four TU-204s (nee 757-ski) that are now rotting away on the ramp at Havana. If it’s parts that grounded them, it’s a matter between Cuba and some factory in Russia.

Then there are the stories regarding the recent grounding of Cubana’s  fleet of AN-158s, which for the record is a blatant Soviet-era copy of the BAe-146, except with two engines instead of four, neither of which, apparently, work very well.

In any case, the Cuban feds pulled the plug on these contraptions, claiming they have “design and manufacturing flaws.”

They seemed to leave out anything about the US embargo causing those flaws.

Tough To Get US Aircraft? Yes. But There’s That Little Issue of Lender Risk. Yes, Cubana may have had a bear of a time getting parts – from the factories in Russia and the Ukraine that originally screwed these airplanes together.

Now, the fact is that most new airliners do have a lot of US content, and that can muddy the ability to order a fleet of new A-320s or CSeries, or even a fleet of COMAC C919s from China.  But that does not have anything to do with Cubana operating Soviet-era airplanes that their own government has declared to have design flaws.

Embargo notwithstanding,  the US content apparently didn’t stop the acquisition of seven ATRs, four of which are still in operation at Cubana. Plus, Cubana over the years has wet-leased in fleets of 767s, DC-10s and A-320s – all of which are eons ahead of the stuff they’ve gotten from the fine folks in Russia and the Ukraine.

Furthermore, because Cuba has fully attained a 4th world economy – with a population that’s generally not able to leave the country (let alone have the income to do so) Cubana isn’t a great potential generator of traffic, beyond bargain-rates for EU and Canadian holiday travelers. So, there’s an open question whether it is a viable finance risk.

The point is that Cuba’s economic model, and that of Cubana’s traffic base, probably would make access to Western aircraft financing very difficult… Cubana’s traffic model is as corroded as the rest of the Cuban economy.

Cuba: Years Away From Prime Time. As BGI studies have pointed out, Cuba is potentially an explosive new revenue source for US airlines. But it’s several years and a full government change away.

Four US carriers have given up on this supposedly pent-up opportunity.  It’s a lead-pipe cinch that the remaining US airlines will re-structure some existing flying. Not much traffic to Santa Clara or Santiago.

While a couple of carriers have picked up some the vacated Havana slot capacity, the fact remains that, according to our analyses, most of the traffic is coming from MIA/FLL, and as much as two thirds is Florida-generated – and almost all of that is to Havana.

Plus, the load factors from some US points are really embarrassing.

It all gets back to the core issue… Cuba is a basket case because its own government has chosen to pursue policies that keep what could be a prosperous nation trapped in the economic Crane fixture.

Maybe they can’t get grain from North Dakota, or automobiles from Detroit… but they can get just about anything they want from places other than the US.

The state of its national airline is just one part of this.

And it has zero to do with the US embargo.