Monday Insight – March 13, 2023

Before We Start:

Clear your calendar for Wednesday March 16.

Aviation Unscripted is featuring an exciting new Vox Deorum video session.

If you’re interested in how air service is evolving, join us.

And in the meantime, you can click here to take a look at aviation’s most incisive video series.


Some Industry Issues Worth Watching This Week

China-USA Air Traffic. American, Delta, and United seeking more access to China. Don’t misread this as any indication that USA-China O&D is recovering to pre-CCP Covid levels. Before mid-2018, leisure traffic O&D was at over 6 million, roughly 75% of the traffic. Back then, the real demand was choked simply because there are no true connecting hub operations in China, the O&D traffic being very strong.

Today, however, the leisure traffic is gone. The economy of China is in tatters. The enthusiastic crowds of inbound visitors have evaporated, and even business travel to China on the part of USA businesses is down.

On a wider view, the current political situation is very iffy. The unelected thugs running China are clearly planning some military activity in the region.

It may start small, such as taking over Kinmen, which is controlled by Taiwan, and then determining what else they can do. Or, it could be a lightning attack on Taiwan itself, which would not necessarily be as messy as some predict.

That all said, US airlines need to be careful regarding tossing aircraft resources into a hostile country.

Mexico: Not Looking Great As A Destination. This past week, three more Americans visiting Mexico have reportedly disappeared. Adding more clarity to the fact that the Mexican authorities are not in authority, the cartel responsible for the abduction of five US citizens and the murder of two of them have reportedly issued an apology, claiming that is was just a big misunderstanding.

Point: any guess on how many parents really want their kids traveling to Mexico for spring break this year?

This could be what was seen in early 2020 due to Covid. Strong Mexico-US load factors could dive into single digits.

The resorts are indeed world class.

It just seems that there may be a mini-world war outside the hotel gates.

More Barriers For Small Community Air Service. The recent situation in Dubuque, where the airport could not accommodate Avelo 737s due to the need to revise the Airport Security Plan, is a message for other small communities.

Those that have only had 50-seat jet service will need to revise their security programs if they have any chance of keeping network-branded service.

That’s because in the next 12 to 18 months, the floor capacity will be over 60 seats, requiring the appropriate revisions to the security plan. Costs?

Particularly in the rare cases where chances of recruiting some of the limited 76-seaters in operation may be really problematic, doing this on the come line may be a fool’s errand.

The Regional Airline Association: Misinformation & Obsolete Solutions. The RAA has formed a semi-task force, called Rally For Air Service, intending to convince congress to do something – anything – to get more pilots trained. That’s the positive part.

However, the RAA is posturing that with more pilots, most small communities that have lost service at the local airport can get it back. They also contend as a blanket statement that small communities without flights – ostensibly, any flights – at the local airport are cut off from attracting investment.

Both of these contentions are not only off-base, but are completely counter to air transportation realities. With the retirement of small jets, with or without pilots, many small communities won’t be able to gin up enough traffic to support local-airport service.

This means that the RAA is blissfully ignoring the consumer and consumer options. In many cases, the consumer has found at other airports far better options than the 2-3 daily flights that were once at the local airport.

For example, it is unlikely that  an airport like College Station will be able to attract new service to compete with even the 85-90 minute drive to access dozens and dozens of nonstop flights at Austin or Houston. United and Delta are not coming back, regardless of how many new pilots are trained. They no longer have the aircraft appropriate to the market. Incumbent American isn’t going to add O&D flights from there, either. The same with Toledo, where Detroit’s nearly 300 daily flights makes the under-an-hour drive far superior to anything that Express Airport can attract and support.

The RAA means well. But they have the responsibility to recognize air transportation realities, and not propose solutions that are not germane to the entire situation. What they are doing is encouraging small communities to pursue air service for which the fleets are being retired.  Check out our recent Monday Insight covering this reality – one the Regional Airline Association doesn’t mention.

But on a wider economic perspective, it probably will encourage more semi-ethical consultants to descend on  these misled small communities like Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas.

But write this down. There is no “pilot shortage solution” to re-instating air service at many small community local airports, as the RAA is claiming.

It’s a lot more fundamental than that.


Monday Insight – March 6, 2023

The Seat Size Bugaboo Continues
Makes Great Press – But Fake News

A federal appeals court just tossed out a lawsuit from a consumer gadfly organization intending to force the FAA to issue strict guidelines on airline seating.

The plaintiffs contended that airline seating is dangerous and unhealthy. Dangerous because cramped seating will hamper cabin egress in the event of an emergency. Unhealthy, because cramped seating can cause deep vein thrombosis.

The court simply pointed out that the contentions made in the filing were not backed up with any hard data or facts. Seat pitch has changed and it varies across the airline industry. But the seats passengers are sitting in on USA airlines have not shrunk. The average width is greater, actually.

Facts? Not If They Spoil The Narrative. What is amazing is that so much of the reporting on this and other related airline seating issues isn’t even within several zip codes of being factual. In almost all cases, they state that airlines have reduced the seat size – the width – consistently over the past several years.

In the US airline industry, that is a patent lie. Not just inaccurate, but a lie because any simple cursory review of the data would immediately discredit it, which indicates wanton intent to misinform. Take a look at the kind of trendy drivel that some of the media puts out as if Moses just delivered it on his way home from Mt. Sinai.

This chart is completely bogus. Yet most of the media just repeat what the consumerist flower children are telling them. Heck, even Senator Chuck Schumer has held political hoedowns demanding that airlines stop shrinking seat size.

Be nice if the good senator would bother himself with facts. No USA airline has cut average seat width by 2 inches in the past ten years, as is repeatedly being reported. AA hasn’t. United hasn’t. Delta, nope. Alaska, ditto. Southwest, same.

Damn The Facts! Full Speed Fake News! These airlines’ Boeing fleets have seats in the 17.2 – 17.5 inch width range. And it has been this width in the “coach” cabin since the first 707s took off in the late 1950s. In the meantime, fleets of A320-platform airliners, with economy cabin seats in the 18-inch range, and E175s with the same, have entered service – thereby making the average seat size even larger, not smaller. Plus, whole fleets of 50-seat jets, with seats at @17 inches wide, have been retired.

So, here’s the nitty gritty. A lot of the media coverage on this subject is simply bogus. As the chart shows, CNN has published data to show that seats are now something like 16.5 inches wide. A piece from the NBC Today Show claimed 16 inches. Nice. But there isn’t a single USA major airline with any seats that narrow.

Maybe in Asia. Maybe in another world, where a lot of this bogus reporting seems to come from.

Note to the media. If you want hard facts and data to back this up, take the time to look at our Aviation Unscripted video on the subject. Click here.


Monday Insight – February 27, 2023

Two Issues For This Week

FAA Front And Center

On our latest Touch & Go newsletter, we outlined the recent safety events that have been encountered at airports across the USA.

The comeback – accurately – is that flying is safe. Another accurate observation is that in the events noted, there was some “back up” to prevent a disaster. But when that backup is a controller yelling through the radio for an airline stop its takeoff roll, that raises red flags.

This brings up the point we made on the T&G: the FAA must be taken out of the hands of politicians. The politicians who today actually make the selection of the Administrator based on criteria other than the in-depth expertise needed for the future.

Regardless, politicians are not qualified to do so.

That is the real safety issue facing the FAA.

By the way, if you’re not on the list already, drop us a line and we’ll add you to the hundreds of aviation professionals already subscribing the Boyd Group International’s Touch & Go.


Advanced Air Mobility – Beyond The Excitement

A lot of the thinking behind some AAM concepts are missing the total economic impact.

A transportation system that can bring JFK/LGA/EWR ten minutes away from Manhattan is more than just reducing a few taxicabs on the Van Wyck or Grand Central.

It’s a system that could completely regenerate the value and importance of core cities as commercial centers. Just short of Scotty beaming Captain Kirk up from Termina One at JFK.

Time To Answer Hard Questions. But that is conceptual, and up to now has glossed over a whole range of huge barriers to be knocked down.

The location and distribution of airsites.

A very well-developed CFR program that addresses the new dangers of electric propulsion. Fire departments in the region will need new training and new equipment and new procedures. Indeed, lithium-ion fires from cheaply-made Chinese junk electrical bicycles are already an issue in major cities.

Another is the major facility changes at airports. LaGuardia was just completely rebuilt. The question is whether the planning accommodated the concept of AAM. In fairness, probably not, as the plans for the new facility were probably in stone a whole lot earlier. If these AAM aircraft need to be operated at some distant hardstand, the entire reason for their existence – time saving – is out the door.

Reliable & Socially-Responsible Battery Supply. Finally, it’s that battery thing. As yet, there are not secure, socially-acceptable, environmentally-safe programs in place to assure power for all these expected aircraft.

Much of the minerals going into batteries are still coming from near-slave mines, many owned by the criminals running China. A lot of the battery manufacture is also controlled by the CCP – an organization engaging in genocide as we speak and is responsible for the global Covid pandemic. The shock is that even Ford Motor Company is partnering with a Chinese company (which means partnership with an entity related to the human crimes committed by the CCP) – there are, apparently, not global alternatives.

Point: Time to put less time into sunshine news stories, and more into hard answers.

And, if the goal is to start major AAM operations in the next 24 months, time is of the essence.

Answers, please.


Monday Insight – February 20, 2022

Holiday Schedule.

Standby… The Monday Update is posted 21 February due US Presidents holiday.

Regional Air Service Planning:
Arriving At The Gate After The Fleet’s Retired

In the current Aviation Unscripted video, we’re illuminating the one future shortage that’s not much recognixed:

A shortage of economically-viable airliners.  The 50-seat fleets are going fast. The next step – 76-seat airliners – are a category that’s not growing. After that, it’s into the need to support mainline-size airliners, or the small community local airport is out of luck.

Actually, this is a trend that’s been evolving for the last 40 years: the bar for scheduled passenger service has been heading up as raw airline operating costs continue to exceed the revenues that can be captured at many small communities.

Log on and get the bottom line on how air service development programs need to accommodate a whole new this dynamic in air transportation.

It will cover new planning territory for the future of airports across America. The economics of air travel are shifting – air service access will reflect this.


Monday Update – February 13, 2023

Airport Air Service Management:
Too Bad Houdini’s No Longer Available

Just came across an article regarding a small airport on the East Coast.

Seems the airport board is fixin’ to zap the airport director.

For cryin’ out loud, he’s been on the job for over five years and has failed to bring more airlines into town. ‘Course, the story was accessorized by the sad tale of all the wonderous service the airport had ten years ago, and how today it’s down to just one network carrier. That’s not acceptable. “We need to recruit more airlines, now!”

So, the fine folks on the board appear to be ready to toss out the incumbent director, for dereliction of duty. They probably want a person who can dive into the giant vat of available airlines and bring a couple home, regardless.

Now that’s real community spirit! An air service pep rally or two at the local high school stadium is in order. And they may want to conduct a goat sacrifice to the airline gods out on the runway while they’re at it.

Signs of A Weak Airport Board. The people who are on airport boards have the responsibility to understand the realities of air service and of airline economics. To be otherwise is unprofessional.

So, tossing the director under the bus just for non-recruitment of airlines is the leper’s bell of governance that is somewhere out in la-la land.

Unfortunately, this is more common than one might think. That’s because a lot of communities are not fully informed regarding air service realities, and some are kept mis-informed by ethically challenged ASD consultants.

Damn The Reality Torpedoes! Full Speed Fantasy Ahead! This dovetails with a call we received a while back from the director of a small airport in the central USA, wondering if BGI would be interested in air service consulting.

The story is that the airport is down to one network carrier system, and the board of directors is taking action.

The first step was positive – delivering a pink-slip to the current air service consultant, which has been hosing the airport for years with jive studies, speed-date meetings, and lavish promises probably based on a list of air service recruitment “successes” longer than Interstate-35. Needless to say, a lot of those airlines involved might not recall their fine work.

So, the head of the board decided it was time for a new consultant. But after that, it’s pretty obvious that at this airport, it’s more correctly the time for an informed board, not another consultant.

Yikes. Here are the results they are demanding from a new consultant.

First, the consultant must recruit another airline. Any airline. Or else.

Second, the new consultant must convince the remaining network system incumbent to add more destinations other than just to their connecting hub.

And finally, the consultant must continue to deliver the usual eye-candy, such as massive studies, going to speed-date meetings, and performing economic impact analyses, etc., all of which the last Pied-Piper consultant had probably done, and none of which will do diddly to recruit more air service within the realities of today’s airline economics.

Attention, Attention! Calling Houdini From The Great Beyond. These expectations, within the air transportation realities of 2023, are right out there with fairy dust and incense-filled soirees. None of these studies will change anything, including the dollars they’re in danger of spending on yet another consultant that’s not telling them the truth.

In point of fact, the potential target airlines for any US airport are clear from the start. There are not many left, and all have clear strategies, fleets and route plans. Any consultant who just promises to “find more airlines” without identifying the targets up front has an ethical problem.

There Are Options. But They’re Not In The Traditional Playbook. The expectations of this airport board are completely counter to air transportation realities. But rather than politely ending the call with “thanks for calling, smoke’em if you’ve got ‘em, and good luck,” we instead took the time to talk at length with the director, and follow-up with a short report, clarifying how he needed to deal with this, providing examples specific to the airport.

Our recommendation was that the first and most important project was to educate the board and the community on air service realities. Otherwise, the path was to get another charlatan consultant on contract, doing all sorts of voodoo to continue to lead the board in the wrong direction.

The realities facing this airport were outlined. We pointed out that there isn’t “another” network airline. In this case, it was illuminated that the carrier that had recently pulled out was clearly losing money. Plus, the only other potential network airline system target had already yanked service at much larger airports in the region. A couple of phone calls to both of these airlines would put these dreams to bed.

Regarding the second demand, we pointed out that the remaining incumbent simply does not operate point-to-point service from small airports. Again, a call to the carrier would 86 the dream. No studies needed.

So, both “requirements” for a new consultant were out.

The ethical path we recommended was to work to educate the board and the community about the structure and economics of air transportation. Otherwise, eventually he himself could expect a pink slip for failing to recruit airlines that don’t exist to operate flights that can’t make money.

The report outlined alternative approaches to retaining the incumbent and investigating new revenue opportunities for the airport.

This took some time to outline, but it was important to let the director know that the airport was heading in the wrong direction.

Fighting Sacred Beliefs Can Be Dangerous. Needless to say, that was the end of communications from the airport involved. Our recommendations were probably not politically correct. And in fairness, for the director it could be an instantly career-limiting event to even attempt to discuss these realities with an airport board that’s intent on bringing back the past.

This is the #1 issue in air service access development… an informed and open-thinking community. It is understandable that the average citizens will have misconceptions about local air service.

But that’s not acceptable for people entrusted with airport governance. Nor for the snake-oil peddlers hired to tell them what they want to hear.

Regardless, economic gravity will eventually prevail.

Looking For Futurist Airport/Air Service Planning?

These examples are not uncommon. There are dozens of communities that are not up to speed regarding the new future opportunities in air service and aviation.

It is important that the air transportation industry be understood in future planning.

Boyd Group International has a comprehensive program called Runway to The Future, which is designed to assist communities and airports identify future trends and plan to optimize them.

Click on the contact button, and we’ll get information to you. Hard facts, direct discussions and clear visions. We look forward to talking!


We rely on Cirium as our source of aviation data and related information. We highly recommend them for easy and indepth access to solve analytical challenges.

Monday Insight – February 6, 2023

Forecast: Potential Trans-Pacific Traffic Free Fall

There’s no point in trying to dodge the facts.

This Chinese balloon incident has set in motion a set of game-changing dynamics that may soon affect trans-Pacific air travel.

Like, putting traffic into a free-fall. Starting now.

This was a hostile attack by a Chinese military aircraft. It is just that simple. The CCP has gained not just potential military data, but in effect just did a dry run to discover how the people running the USA will react in time of crisis. They now have a good idea.

Events in Asia may be coming in rapid short order that will affect the entire USA air transportation system.

A Chinese Intelligence Coup.  Boyd Group International is a leader in research regarding China. There are a lot of moving parts here beyond just a balloon. The combination of what the Chinese actually learned from this event, plus the internal political and economic turmoil facing the people in Beijing, things in Asia could get really unstable, really fast.

Time For Some Blunt Talk. Enough here. The latest Aviation Unscripted research video delivers a view of what US carriers need to prepare for regarding trans-Pacific travel demand. Bottom line: US airlines planning more nonstops to China may want to rethink their fleet applications.

If you’re interested in a snapshot of what we can expect and why, click here and join us at Aviation Unscripted.

Don’t expect any punches to be pulled. Invest just seven minutes for some candid, no sugar-coat facts that we can no longer ignore.

Monday Insight – January 30, 2023

The Southwest Meltdown Is Over.
But It’s Set In Motion The 2023 Airline Jihad

The circus begins.

The headline pretty much validates what we predicted a couple weeks ago:
Between the political appointees at the top of the DOT and the various committee heads in Congress, they just can’t pass up a chance for some high profile soapboxing.

The premise, however, is trendy and panders to the life forms in the consumerist world that aren’t above claiming all sorts of evil on the part of airlines, like the ones recently claiming that USA airline seats have been getting narrower. Which is a lie.

Congress Will Milk This For All It’s Worth. The premise of the above headline, if it is to be taken seriously, is that WN knew weeks in advance that the country would be hit just before Christmas with some of the worst weather in decades, and then irresponsibly ignored it all.

This is stupid leadership at the DOT, and is shameful in that it will accomplish nothing.

This does not minimize the horrid and tragic human costs of the Southwest meltdown. Millions of people – not just travelers, but entire families at home expecting loved ones to arrive – went through a situation not seen before. (At least until a few days later when the FAA’s bailing-wire systems gave us another first-seen experience, shutting the entire nation down, if only for a couple hours.)

It’s clear that Southwest recognizes this and is doing all it can to rectify the damage. But congress, the honchos at the DOT, and some in the consumerist side of the media want to milk this for all it’s politically worth.

Get Tuned In For Some Oscar-Winning Performances. So, watch for the hearings on C-SPAN in the next few months, where crocodile-indignant politicians will open with gushing outrage. Then the first panels will consist of carefully-selected consumers who were affected, recounting the hardships they went through.

This naturally will accomplish nothing constructive, and will shamefully use these folks as political fodder, but it will set the stage and somehow validate the next panel of witnesses.

That will be airline executives, probably from across the industry, carefully positioned for the hearing chairman to initiate the congressional version of the last five minutes of Bonnie & Clyde getting whacked in the ’35 Ford. Except without live ammunition, probably.

The alpha and the omega of the Black Holiday was a computer system at one airline that couldn’t handle the demands of a major weather event. It was not and is not a generic situation in airline operations across the industry. This is not an excuse for Southwest. But it is the reality, and one that is being addressed so that there won’t be a re-occurrence.

Unfortunately, that won’t be the approach inside the Beltway.

Message To Airlines: This Is Not A Drill. This has set in motion a jihad regarding airline service. This means that it’s up to the airline industry to now take stock of every aspect of their service delivery and ability to quickly remediate or avoid service failures.

There are a number of areas where the industry is vulnerable. We covered them a couple of months ago in a special Aviation Unscripted video. The #1 recommendation was for airlines to do a forensic review of all of the processes the customer goes through and literally do war games on how they can turn into confrontational situations, and have specific training on how to de-escalate them.

Airports: You Have A Dog In This Fight. Airlines need to get consumers on their side. It’s also important for airports to get in and take a stand.  Remember, a lot of the stuff these politicians are suggesting will affect the viability of air service across the nation. Like, the bozos demanding all seats be 20 inches wide, which has never been the case.

Great. That will make 737s and A320 cabins go to 5-across, instead of six. Give a thought about the fallout of losing 25-35 seats per flight, guys. And that is with no defined or proven increase in health or safety.

ACI & AAAE: don’t play politics with this one.

Click here to take a gander at the video.

And let us know your thoughts.



Monday Update – January 23, 2023

The China Travel Future That Isn’t, Anymore.
Multi-Billions of Chinese Spend Not Coming Back To USA Airports & Venues

Here’s a figure: fourteen billion dollars.

That’s what Chinese leisure visitors spent in the USA in 2019. That is not the full economic impact. Just the gelt directly applied to the visit. Conservatively estimated.

Here’s another figure: bupkus.

That’s pretty close to what Chinese leisure visitors spent in the USA in 2022, mainly because there weren’t many of them. This represents a huge hit to a wide range of USA venues that were beneficiaries of this travel sector.

Last week, US airlines asked for waivers in 2023 regarding authorities to serve China. The market is only rebounding slowly, they claim.

Wrong. The USA-China air market as it existed before the CCP-Covid pandemic is not really “rebounding” – it is essentially in its death throws, deflating a traffic bubble that was the result of strong discretionary spend and on strong business flows.

Both of these drivers are now history. The entire underpinnings of the USA-China air traffic demand have been demolished. Let’s take a look at data from Airports:China™:

In 2019, air traffic volume between the USA and China represented over 8.8 million O&D, including nonstop and connect itineraries. Of that, approximately 70% were leisure visitors – equating to 3.1 million people entering the US with an estimated per-visitor spend of $4,500.

It is today barely 150,000 total O&D.

Heck, today the largest single US-China market isn’t Beijing or Shanghai. It’s Xiamen, which most people in America couldn’t find on a map. And it’s under 7,000 annual O&D.

Yes, the spread of Covid across China – some estimates are as high as 900 million infected (!) – is one reason. The recently lifted bans on outbound travel from China is certainly another.

But what most of the aviation media is missing is that the Chinese economy that once generated this USA traffic is now a growing wasteland. It’s a blazing mess for a number of reasons that we don’t have time or room here to fully cover.

In short, leisure demand to visit the Grand Canyon or The Big Apple is pretty thin when factories are not paying employees. Or when millions of middle-class citizens have been defrauded by bogus real estate scams. Or when factories are being closed and moved out of country by foreign corporations, due to production problems or the political issues with CCP’s programs of genocide in Xinjiang, or forced human organ transplants.

It is so bad that even the CCP thug patrols who arbitrarily test people are protesting for lack of pay. Or when millions of unpaid workers in major cities don’t have money to buy train tickets to visit family over the Lunar New Year festival.

Entering China Isn’t Good Business. Then there is the commercial side. Because of the CCP’s anti-US policies, this is not a place to go, even without the CCP-produced Covid on the rise. Business travelers are at risk of arbitrary CCP actions. One executive of an Irish aircraft leasing company took a quick trip to visit their offices in Shanghai. He was refused exit for over a year due to the CCP officials trying to extort $30 million in ransom from his company over a concocted airliner deal.

It Hits Pennsylvania and Kentucky and Las Vegas, Too. Bottom line. This is a hit to the USA economy. A fun trip from folks in Beijing or Tianjin to visit Hershey Chocolate Land, or to the glass factory in Elmira, or to hit ‘Vegas just isn’t supportable, anymore.

Those visitors and that 14 mega-large spend are in the history books and aren’t coming back.

It’s the market demand that has fundamentally changed. Nonstops to Beijing and Shanghai will return. But the glowing future that was seen five years ago is now dead.

Naturally, there are a lot of entities on this side of the Pacific who have big time dogs in the fight – heavy financial investment in China. They will do what they can to smokescreen the wreckage growing across the Chinese economy. Even some major news networks. Remember the glowing accolades given the CCP in 2020 for their deft handling of Covid? Funny, those same news outlets don’t seem to remember that.

It won’t change things. The dynamics that generated over 8 million O&D are gone.

US carriers: plan accordingly.


Aviation Unscripted Video Program – New Enhancements

We are honored about the traffic going to our Aviation Unscripted videos, over Rumble and other channels.

Now in its third year, effective February we’ll be making some exciting changes.

Aviation Unscripted With Mike Boyd & Friends will debut in February. It will feature a new format that includes reviews of emerging aviation events and relates them within the future context of the industry. We’ll also be drawing on he expertise of our futurist friends, to get their input and perspectives. Short, concise, and as usual a bit iconoclastic.

In in addition to subject-specific content, we’ll be discussing the latest events in aviation, and how they may affect all sectors – airlines, airports, suppliers and consumers. No sacred cows. No consensus thinking. Group think in the cross-hairs. A valuable ten minutes or so that will widen the exploration of issues affecting aviation.

More information on the way. In the meantime, be sure to check out the current Aviation Unscripted by clicking here.


Just FYI. We depend on Cirium for our data sourcing.

Because accurate information is critical for planning the future.

Weekly Monday Update – January 16, 2023

Before we start this week…

The Update is being posted on Tuesday, January 17, in observance of the Martin Luther King Holiday.

To start, we’d point out that Dr. King’s message was universal. Not only great personal advice, but sound guidance for a lot of our lives, including business.

As we move into the challenges in aviation for 2023, we may want to consider these observations given to us by Dr. King:

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

“The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.”

As we move into the challenges of 2023, we all need to give consideration to Dr. King’s guidance in regard to the issues facing aviation. We all have resistance to change. Easy answers too often tend to be the goal.

The need for us to think out of the past is imperative, but we too often shy from them. We have a long way to go, still. We owe a lot to Dr. King’s guidance.


Get Ready. Let The Senate Games Begin
The FAA Has Major Challenges.
Congress Wants To Make It A Political Playground.

Just got word that the Senate will hold hearings to get to the bottom of how Southwest screwed up over the holidays.

Senator Maria Cantwell is outraged. She’s making profound statements, like “consumers deserve reliable air service” or some stuff like that. Yessir, she assures us, we in the Senate are going to take Southwest to task.

The Usual Show Agenda – Maximum Impact. Facts Secondary. The agenda will probably be an initial panel of consumers who were devastated by Southwest cancelling flights.

Not that this information will do anything to resolve what happened in the past, as these types of stories have been recounted in thousands of media articles. But it will show that whatever Senate Hoedown Committee is involved really, really has empathy, and intends to take action. Misusing human tragedy for political ends is not new.

Then there will be the panels of airline executives, maybe salted with a few toady-level “consultants” or experts from the consumer or even the aviation sector. This will be the prime show for the Senate panel members, who will perform like trained seals decrying the event, and demanding that heads must roll.

Plan also on at least a cameo appearance by DOT Secretary Buttigieg, who will earnestly advise the Senators all the hard work he’s doing to assure this won’t happen again.

The Real Threat To Safety Is Now Is Continued Mismanagement of the FAA. ‘Course, not much will be made of the major safety IT failure on the part of Buttigieg’s FAA. A major safety failure that shut down the entire air transportation system. Not just Southwest, but sending the entire USA air transportation system into chaos.

Cantwell and crew won’t likely get too much into it. Crocodiles generally don’t attack each other.

The FAA’s unreliable IT systems and the incompetent management of same probably will get either ignored or just touched on, even though it was an indication of a situation much more safety-related than the Southwest event. Much more of a threat to the public.

There’s more that will be ignored by Cantwell and her Senate Rangers.

Just this week, there was a near collision between airliners on the ground at JFK International Airport. It was avoided at the last second. But it was an event that involved the FAA. Buttigieg’s FAA.

The Southwest problem was due to inadequate crew management systems specific to one airline. The FAA problem was due to complete failure of a major safety system, without which the entire air transportation system shut down. Reportedly, an old system.

The Real Message: FAA Needs Expert Technical Leadership. Not A Political Appointee. Touching  the Third Rail, these events once again prove that the FAA itself is in dire need of hard, competent management leadership with in-depth experience in the areas covered by the agency.

But that is not what the occupants of the White House are intending to do. Just to opposite.

Let’s just touch on the huge challenges the FAA is looking at in the next two years.

We have eVTOL aircraft coming – hundreds of them. That means new procedures and regulations to assure safety and protect the public. No, these aren’t in progress. The issues of new CFR equipment and emergency training are not in place. The issues of maintenance requirements for whole new and untried powerplant systems are not fully addressed. The airport facility revisions and ATC demands are not yet in place. Procedures and oversight of handling of toxic batteries are not in place.

Beyond this, the administrative quagmire that allowed the 737MAX fiasco still hangs a shadow over the FAA. Then there’s the need for more oversight of foreign repair stations. The emerging value and also the emerging security issues represented by increasing drone use will be a huge planning challenge.

And these are just at the top of the pile. Yet people like Senator Schumer and the occupant of the White House are demanding the appointment of a person with no such expertise whatsoever. None.

To contend that an appointee with no extensive and relevant experience or perspectives on specific aviation matters can direct the Federal Aviation Administration is flat out nonsense. But, if all goes to the plan, that is exactly what’s coming.

Think about it.



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The Air Service Challenges For 2023

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The coming growth in secondary airport international travel.

The major strategy shifts taking place at ULCC carriers.

The new air service value metric: clock time, not local departures.

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The end of scatter-shot air service schemes and the need for specific focus.

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Monday Insight – January 9, 2023

Mexico As A Vacation Destination.
Warm Sun… Or Hot Lead?

The latest BGI Touch & Go Insight Newsletter included a review of the potential air service fallout from the violence experienced in Sinaloa state cities of Mazatlán, Culiacan and others.

It is not comforting for the US airline industry.

The hard reality is that drug cartels essentially now control parts of Mexico.

Reports from Culiacan describe situations where even the Mexican army was held at bay, including two attack helicopters shot down, and drug forces shooting at airliners at Culiacan airport. Plus stories of tourists huddled in hotels as drug hoodlums surrounded the buildings with burning automobiles.

These are vile people, with no compunction about killing anyone. Fully armed, including machine guns mounted on roving pick-up trucks. Heavy firepower.

The point is that this was not just a skirmish between good guys and black hats. The wider question is how safe the rest of Mexico may be. The answer is likely positive, as the drug cartel leadership is focused at specific cities, even though they do business literally across the world.

That notwithstanding, the image of a cartel taking terror control of a city isn’t going to engender a lot of eagerness to travel to Mexico, regardless of the destination. Plus, this latest event has dredged up the stories of how the Mexican authorities were literally defeated in 2019 by the cartels when they attempted to capture the same kingpin they were after this time.

Not to be alarmist, but US carriers may see a material decline in Mexico-USA travel demand. These cartels have no respect for human rights and this event has severely damaged the image of Mexico as a leisure destination.

Traditionally, travelers visit Mexico for great beaches, superior resorts and globe-beating hospitality.

But in the aftermath of the events in Sinaloa, It’s a fair bet they are not particularly interested in becoming extras in a re-enactment of the film Blackhawk Down.

Not pleasant, but it is an issue that could demolish this traffic sector. Stand by.

(By the way, for those not on the subscription list for the BGI Touch & Go Insight Letter, just drop us an email to join the over 500 aviation leaders who get it every week.)


The Latest AA Small Market Reductions –
It’s About Economics, Not Pilots.

American has announced it is ceasing service to Long Beach, Columbus GA, and Del Rio Texas.

The official reasons were given as “pilot shortage” and low traffic.

In the case of the two smaller airports – Columbus and Del Rio – there is a message that is going to continue to get louder as we progress into the New Year: The raw and increasing expense of connecting many smaller airports is exceeding the revenues that these communities can generate.

It’s not pilots – it’s the increasing cost of pilots. And fuel. And maintenance. Both Del Rio and Columbus were barely generating 60% to 65% load factors, and the basics of highest and best use of resources are in play.

Point: there will be an increasing number of such airports getting air service pink slips in coming months. All the king’s horses and all the king’s “true market studies” won’t change this. It is now incumbent on communities such as Del Rio to re-think the role of the local airport, including attracting economic investment.

There are no mystery airlines out there. Alternative secondary air access may be a potential. But booking a trip to the next speed-date air service convention won’t do diddly to find a network carrier to replace American.

The economics don’t work, anymore.