August 6, 2018 Update

Get “Future-Enabled” At The IAFS…

Trends, Data & Business Intelligence That Other Events Miss

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

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

Airports:USA® Enplanement Forecast

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

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

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

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

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

Fuel Projections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenge The Status Quo…

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

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

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


Chicken Little Lives!

It’s broadcast lore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t remember the same media outrage over that.

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

Move along, folks. Nothing happening here.

July 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 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.

May 14, 2018

BGI Announces Major White Paper

Reconciling Air Service Access Planning

To The New Airline Economic Realities

Mark the date – August 19, 2018

That’s the day that BGI will formally issue a new, comprehensive White Paper on the status of the US air transportation system.

We’ll be cutting new territory and questioning a lot of ambient and obsolete assumptions in the area of air access and airline service.

White Paper 300 with frameThe White Paper will compare the structural and fundamental changes in the air transportation industry, with the shifts that will be critical in airport and air service access planning.

As will be illuminated in the paper, the nation is a long way from where we need to be. We can plan for the future only by recognizing and accepting it. That’s not the case today.

The fact is that most of the assumptions used in air service planning – from the FAA down to local airports – relate to an airline industry that no longer exists.

Take just a cursory look.

… The FAA still ranks airports in “hub” categories when most have no such relationship to any activities represented by that term.

… The FAA still thinks there is an independent regional airline system, when it’s been gone for two decades.

… The FAA – and most other forecast sources – still believe that enplanements are the direct result of simple econometric factors.

… FAA data collection is out of date, but consistent with the computer power that was available 40 years ago.

… O&D and other metrics represent the past, but not the future. Increasingly, there is a complete disconnect between historic airline planning and what is represented by the new mission applications of airliners delivering discretionary consumer products, in addition to “air service.”

… Too many communities and airports are misled into believing that there are lots of airlines, and just a massive consultant “market study,” and an appearance or two at a couple of speed-date events will do the trick to “luring” more air service.

It’s time to call these things for what they are. Obsolete fantasy that relates little to the air transportation system of the future.

Traditional Air Service Planning – Rig For Depth Charges. Reality Is Coming

The 100-page White Paper – The New Air Service Paradigm – Time For New Thinking – pulls no punches.  It’s been developed based on the need to discard current obsolete thinking regarding how air transportation will shape the future.

Not Just Information, But A Planning Document. The White Paper is a working document that goes beyond data and into functional planning changes that airports, community planners and financial institutions need to consider if they want to match the trajectory of change taking place in the air transportation system.

The White Paper will cover the hot button issues, including:

The New Foundations of Air Service. Today, it’s more than just local “demand.”  The report analyzes the emerging shifts in how airlines are plumbing new revenue sources with their fleets.

Obsolete Government Data & Related Systems – the need for new metrics, and exactly what those need to be.  Relying on FAA forecasts, and the airline industry they describe, has no relationship to today.

Government Programs Aimed At Reversing The Calendar. Let’s get real, EAS and SCASDP programs need replacement. The White Paper discusses new approaches that are necessary.

Regionalization of Air Access. It’s here and it will demand major changes in airport planning.

Internationalization. – It’s an opportunity and a challenge for all US airports.

New Fleets. Next-phase airliners will change and improve access… plan on it. New fleet capabilities represent changes in aircraft missions.

Developing New Planning Programs. The White Paper will outline the specific areas that airports and the regions they serve must address to optimize the future… the air transportation system will be different, and strategic and tactical planning must evolve as well.

Available August 19 & Showcased At A Special Workshop.

The White Paper will be issued on August 19, at the 23rd Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit, in Denver. The price for this comprehensive air transportation White Paper will be $795, IAFS Logo whit backgroundand a press synopsis will be available to bona fide media.

Attend The Special IAFS Airport Planning Workshop. However, at the Summit, we’re planning an hour-long pre-event Workshop on August 19, covering the White Paper.  IAFS™ delegates who attend this Workshop will be provided with a complimentary copy.

As always, the media is welcome to attend.

This Workshop is another reason that the IAFS delivers more actionable insight and information than any other aviation event… any other. Click here to register!


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.

BGI and the team – which includes the former #1 China-US tour generator, the global leader in developing digital programs in China, and the leading expertise in China aviation forecasting – tailor each Symposium to the specific situation at each client.

We illuminate 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. The team can develop complete China outreach programs.

Professional Communication. The Chinese visitors – be they leisure, business, or education-focused – are highly sophisticated. For this reason, it’s unfortunate how many airports, communities and venues get hornswaggled into adding “instant” translation options to their websites.

We always advise against 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.

Ithaca web warning

The BGI/CNH Team assists our clients in development of professionally-developed outreach programs that convey a welcoming image.

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

May 7, 2018

Congratulations To Our Partner, St Vincent & The Grenadines!

Boyd Group International is excited to note that American Airlines will initiate service to the world’s newest international airport, Argyle International, from Miami on December 15.

We are proud to have worked with St. Vincent & The Grenadines for the past seven years, from a time when the airport was not much more than an enormous construction site, leveling mountains and filling in valleys.

BGI has assisted the Argyle project in a range of projects, from crafting air access strategies for American and other carriers, to accomplishing the starting-point operating budget for the facility.

This is just the start for this unique Caribbean nation with a population less than that of a third of Nassau County, and a venue that is really unique in the Caribbean.

Boyd Group International is now working hard to build additional air access to St. Vincent & The Grenadines – stand by for film at 11.


New Forecast:
St. Louis Lambert Now Re-Classified As A Connecting Hubsite

There’s A Message Here Regarding The New Airline Industry

Boyd Group International’s Airports:USA® forecast system – the only airport enplanement projections accomplished in the private sector – now has re-classified STL as an established connecting hub airport.

Airports:USA® defines a connecting hubsite as an airport where a single airline has strategically applied resources with the objective of inter-connecting passengers, and where the result is that 25% or more of the total airport’s enplanements are connect-driven.

With the pull-down of the AA hub, the percentage of passengers being flowed over STL naturally tended to evaporate to very low teens. It was no longer a hubsite.

As of today, however, Southwest has again made the airport a true connecting hub, with over 25% of all passengers (mostly WN-driven) now simply using the facility to connect.

Please Don’t Get Confused By Outdated FAA Classifications. This, obviously, is counter to the ridiculous and obsolete use of the term “hub” in FAA nomenclature. Their description of “small, medium and large” hubs has nothing – zero – to do with anything vaguely resembling connecting passengers, and nothing whatsoever to do with any industry definition of the word “hub.” Actually, it is shameful that FAA data is founded on such ancient nonsense.

This causes unending entertainment from the media and some consumer entities who posture themselves as experts because, lo! they can pull down FAA/DOT data off the internet, and assume it has all the veracity of what Moses got off those tablets on Mount Sinai.

It does the nation no favors for the FAA to cling to these nonsensical, mislabeled descriptions. Not only veneer media types are taken for a ride, but even some of the dragon-level organizations in Washington have their policy-planning taken into the weeds by not recognizing that FAA data and classifications are strictly from the days when Lucy was doing pratfalls on Sunday night television.

One very large Washington organization actually asked us to rank “small” FAA-defined “hubs” by the percentage of connecting passengers at each.

It was a very short list.

Like, none. But there was a level of resentment when they were advised that the FAA definition was misleading them. These were their buddies across town, after all. This is the damage done when federal agencies refuse to recognize that the air transportation system isn’t a static part of the communication network.

If You Rely On Accurate Forecasts, Be In Denver August 19-21. The new STL forecast is part of the 2019-2028 Airports:USA enplanement forecasts that will be used and discussed at the 23rd International Aviation Forecast Summit in Denver, August 19-23. We’ll be exploring the trends – and their effects – on traffic levels at airports across the nation.

Any aviation entity that relies on accurate futurist forecast data should be at the Summit. In addition to clear and independent projections of enplanement trends across the nation, the Summit delivers trend and projection forecasts from the key players in the airline, aircraft manufacturing, and financial sectors.

It’s clear that FAA forecasts aren’t reliable – year after year, they have confidently mis-projected not only traffic growth, but have been mired in assuming that air traffic is just the caboose on a complex train of economic factors.

It’s Airline Strategies That Are What’s Driving Expansion. Ask any airport where Frontier or another ULCC has suddenly and unexpectedly announced they’re coming to town. The FAA’s forecasts were on another planet. That’s understandable – because airlines are now independently and unilaterally making expansion decisions that bear no resemblance to the antediluvian and inaccurate forecast methodology used by the FAA.

And that’s another dynamic that will be explored at the Summit – it’s airlines, internally and unilaterally, that are more and more calling the expansion shots.

Those 60-page consultant “studies” and ridiculous “leakage analyses” – which typically have no relationship whatsoever to consumer trends, airline fleet strategies and other issues – are no longer the driver of airline route expansion.

This means having a professional and ruthless understanding of airline strategies is a lot more important than doing some bogus “true market” study to “lure” an airline to the local airport.

Solid Data & Exploration of The Future. No other event delivers what the IAFS does… no milquetoast panel discussions, wandering aimlessly around issues. No cookie-cutter sessions delivered by wooden federal officials spouting the party line – one that’s the same at every event, and is verbatim from what’s on that department’s website.

The IAFS delivers solid futurist perspectives from the industry leaders making the decisions. Click here and take a look at the distinguished industry CEOs and senior executives who will be joining us.

Networking? No event delivers the interaction opportunities of the International Aviation Forecast Summit. The sessions are all-business, but the breaks and the outstanding evening events planned by our hosts, Denver International Airport, will be ones that no other event can match.

If you haven’t registered, we’d suggest you clear your calendar and do so now.

April 30, 2018

Starting Point This Week:

Airliner Seat Size Lore:

Be Nice If Some In The Media Relied On Facts

Seat Size: More Media Misinformation… The House version of the FAA reauthorization bill requires the FAA to investigate setting size minimums for airline seats.

USA TODAY, reporting on the story, advises us that this is important because average width of airline seats has declined from 18 inches to just 16.5 inches.

That, not surprisingly, is a blatant falsehood. Untrue, non-factual, sloppy reporting.

Let’s go to the fact sheet, again. The narrowest seats in US airline system operations today (save a couple of small-aircraft air taxi operators) is 17 inches, and all 737s have 17.2 in economy (memo to USA TODAY, they always have been that width in standard 6-across configuration), as well as A-320s and E-170/190s are over 18 inches.

There is no way that seats have shrunk in width to 16.5. Mathematically impossible.

As we’ve seen recently with other airline reporting – such as the 60 Minutes selective-data “investigative report” on Allegiant – what shows up in the media isn’t always gospel.

Caveat consumer.


Supersonic Air Travel…

It’s coming. And It’s Going To Be Positively Disruptive

China’s largest travel company – Ctrip – has announced that it intends to make a major investment in Boom Supersonic, the developer of a new 50-55 seat, 2.2 Mach airliner.

If you haven’t heard of Ctrip, it’s a $3 billion dollar – and growing – global travel conglomerate based in Shanghai.

They join a range of other global players that have invested in Boom – all of them sophisticated entities that are known for looking to the future. This new machine is expected to cut flight times in half on long-haul intercontinental routes, and do so at operating costs that will accommodate today’s range of business/first fare levels.

Not Just Faster, But A New Air Transportation Mode. Boyd Group International has completed fleet demand forecasts for Boom Supersonic, and we see not only “demand” but major disruption in airline product structure.

Very disruptive – to just about every segment of air transportation – airlines, airports, suppliers, financial institutions and – importantly – to consumers who will have a whole new travel/communication channel.

On one hand, it will offer a superior option to the existing business/first passenger segment, with travel time being far superior. On the other hand, in markets such as New York – London a 3.3. hour flight time will likely represent stimulation of demand.

Then, let’s think about effects on global airports and competitiveness of airports. Those that may be slot-restricted might be left at a disadvantage – meaning that some sectors of consumer travel will find alternative access points where airlines operate the Boom airliner.

Opening China. Then we have emerging markets such as China… there is no guarantee that the Middle Kingdom will have restrictions on the (low) sonic boom. That means enormous potential for both domestic and international supersonic service to and from interior commercial points such as Chengdu, Kunming, Zhengzhou – at a dozen other new-market opportunities. Point: lots of potential demand for this airliner.

Example: Florida-Latin America: the attractiveness of this aircraft could well deliver nonstops to key commercial points in South America… remember, this new modality focuses on high-yield business traffic. The businessman from Manaus needing to get to Central or Northern Florida could now have viable service to/from Sarasota or Jacksonville… avoiding the congestion at other gateways.

Not Just An Airliner. A Competitive Imperative. The 50-55 seat airplane, aimed at capturing and moving today’s premium first/business segment at 2.2 Mach, at fare levels similar to those currently offered, will effectively be a giant marketing hacksaw, slicing off the front cabins of current intercontinental airliners.

If a business traveler can get from New York to London (as just one of many example markets) in 3.3 hours compared to 6.5, at a similar fare, it’s a no brainer which mode he or she will choose.

HFApr302But it appears that much of the inbred aviation cognoscenti fit into that category. For now, the dogma is decided… this airliner won’t work.

But give it 12 months, and the dogma will do a 180. It always does, when things get obvious.

A Competitive Necessity. BGI is the only consulting firm that has researched the Boom concept – and from the gitgo, we found that the concept has enormous merit. Globally, our forecast is for 1,300 units over the period from operational start (2024) through the following ten year period.

‘Course, the usual mamma-guy analysts (google it, if you must) have assured us from the start that the Boom concept was a pipedream – mostly based on their recollection of the Concorde, which came out before half of today’s world population were born.

Comfortable group-think lore… the usual suspects have circled the wagons.

“No cost-efficient or fuel-efficient engines exist…,” some have assured us, completely oblivious of any expertise on the subject, beyond what “everybody knows.” They do exist.

“It’s the noise issue,” was another warning, not aware that the projected sonic boom will approximate that of a car door shutting, and way below the racket made by trash trucks rumbling down Madison Avenue at 5AM, or that of a 737 on approach over Jackson Heights into LGA.

(This is not to imply that the US FAA will ever have the gumption to explore over-land use of any supersonic airliner – regardless of what the decibel levels might be, the political response would be quick, ugly and aggressive. It’s a battle they won’t take on. But the trans-ocean route opportunities are more than can gobble up 1,300 global airliners.)

Save Time? Be More Efficient? Nonsense! Customers Want Perks, Not Speed. Then there is the all-time most creative “reason” espoused by some of the all-knowing analysts to prove that the supersonic business class concept won’t work.

The argument: premium passengers want to stay in the sky longer.

They contend that the 55-seat Boom airliner, equipped only with wide, individualized recliner seats and footrests, will not be able to take long-haul premium traffic from existing-generation widebody alternatives, because it will get them to the destination too fast.

According to this argument, this premium business segment will prefer  longer flight times – to get work done, and to rest up and be fresh when they arrive. (To repeat, we are not making this up – these comments have been made with straight faces…)

HFApr301See, the fantasy goes, premium class passengers will prefer the option of luxuriating in the sky for several extra hours, enjoying premium cocktails, wolfing down fine wine, dining on gourmet meals, enjoying a lavish dessert accompanied by a snifter of Courvoisier, before spreading out on a lie-flat seat to enjoy first-rate in-flight entertainment (IFE) on a giant flat TV, all warm and comfy under a lush duvet adorned by the name of some fancy designer.

Sure, getting to London hours earlier, and not having the time to wallow in luxury on the way to Heathrow will be a real deal-killer for Boom.

Funny, but there are certainly  a lot of aggressive corporate executives who would rather get ahead of the competition, instead of swilling wine and playing with a 14-way lie-flat seat for seven hours.

The Current Business/First Competition Will Be Decimated. By the way, anybody who believes in this more-time-in-the-sky stuff, probably hasn’t really seen the long-haul front-cabin service shtick that some carriers pass off as “premium.” (We won’t mention carrier nationalities… but take a guess.)

Take a look… from boarding to deplaning, it’s not necessarily what’s portrayed in the advertising…

…the four-color menus passed out before departure showcase a lush level of high-livin’ vittles…  but actual delivery sometimes falls a bit short…

Like, “premium cocktails” made with hooch barely a step above what’s in the bar-well at a roadside honky-tonk. Oops, that fine vintage wine selection that’s touted on the menu might not be on today’s flight. “But we do have some other options that are substantially better than Mad-Dog 20/20…” The gourmet entrée is likely to be plunked down on a pre-packaged plate or casserole dish, a la coach meals in the 1970s.

Oh, yeah, that plush duvet. When the passenger stretches out to relax, that duvet has no more utility than a blanket, embroidered designer name notwithstanding. And the viewing enjoyment available on the IFE system might resemble titles obtained in the last stages of a bankruptcy clearance at Blockbuster.

Point: The fare-paying segment that’s sitting in the front cabin today wants to get there. When the fare is the same, they’ll get on the fastest piece of warm iron leaving town. That is going to leave a lot of front-end wide-body real estate empty and seeking some type of re-development. Major international carriers would do well to start exploring this now.

Get Ready – The Airliner Demand Game Is Fixin’ To Change. The point is that this Boom Technologies airliner is going to change how airlines market their product, and how premium-segment customers fly.

IAFS Logo whit backgroundIt will also materially change fleet decisions and fleet applications for global international carriers. It is going to get sudden attention from other airframe manufacturers. (And once it’s safe to do so, it will get swooning attention from the oh-so-negative aviation analyst crowd, too.)

And don’t discount more Chinese interest. The one industry where they are materially behind the curve is in airliners. Their current and planned platforms (such as the C919, C929 and ARJ-21) are a decade late and several yuan short. A relationship with a product that Boeing and Airbus can’t duplicate would give Chinese aircraft companies and aviation suppliers a lot more access to airline front offices.

This means that as more major aviation and travel-related companies get acquainted with what this airliner will do, there’s going to the plenty more disruption.

Want To Get A View Of The New Future? Join Us In Denver this August for the 23rd Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit, and get up close and personal with this next dimension in air transportation.

Not only will Boom be participating in the Summit, but we are jointly planning an exciting event to introduce this new airliner to the attendees… details coming soon.

In the meantime, if you haven’t registered for the 2018 IAFS™ – click here to reserve your space now.