10,000th 737 Delivered

Southwest Airlines accepted delivery of an 737-800MAX last week… ten grand later than the first 737 delivered almost 50 years ago.

Actually, Okay Airlines of China sort of stole their thunder in the global av-media, by making a big event of receiving the 9,999th 737  earlier in the week… somehow, it seems more impressive.

Nevertheless, congrats to Boeing, Southwest, and Okay Airlines.

BGI Cuba Air Demand Research Validated

Amid all the excitement surrounding the “opening” of Cuba, Boyd Group International was the only consulting firm to call for some realistic analysis of the market.

Actually, no other consulting entity even said a word – which says a lot.

Our analyses, openly published between 2009 and 2016, clearly warned that the potential US-Cuba market is very limited, and almost entirely one-way. Plus, we warned that the majority of any traffic would come from SE Florida, supported almost entirely by VFR and tour traffic, with a smattering of tour-group movements from a few other US points.

We also pointed out that, other than Havana, demand for US visitation to other cities in the closed-economy of Cuba would essentially be zip.

Frankly, any US airline route planner who would propose flying a domestic market as obviously dismal as most US-Cuba routes would likely be tossed out of the building.

Last week, the DOT “re-allocated” Cuba slots. Or, more correctly, Havana slots, to address the pull-out by Frontier, Spirit, Silver, and Alaska. Most of the re-allocated flying is from SE Florida.

The giant bonanza of feeding traffic to Cuba over US airline hubs was a travel industry mirage.

Our forecasts were alone in illuminating the market realities, all of which ran counter to the ambient thinking: other than SE Florida to Havana, and outside of that, some VFR and adventure tourism, Cuba in its present state is a dog market.

This was not some deepl-buried set of circumstances. One rational look at the market, and the conclusion is clear: Cuba today has very limited potential.

It will remain so until there are major changes in the governance of this workers’ paradise, where free speech, the vote, and any semblance of a business base are still non-existent.

BGI RDU China-Welcome Program Now On-Line 

On February 20, a BGI Team delivered a tailored China-Welcome Symposium at Duke University to the business leaders in the North Carolina Research Triangle.

The focus of the Symposium, sponsored by RDU International Airport, was to outline how the region could capitalize on its already-strong business relationships with China to support a targeted program to bring nonstop flights from China to RDU.

BGI and the team not only outlined the very different structure of the Chinese airline industry, but also delivered insights on how the region can establish a digital presence in China, as well as crafting programs for additional investment from Asia.

The RDU International Airport has made the BGI/China Ni Hao Symposium presentations available, and can be viewed by clicking here.

As the leader in China-US aviation research, BGI and its partners stand ready to assist communities and businesses in crafting programs to increase trade and leisure traffic from China.

ORD Expansion… Forgot Something?

The multi-billion dollar plan to rebuild Chicago/ORD has made a lot of headlines.

Funny, but there’s no mention of the Third Chicago Airport, which supposedly was going to be the panacea for the future, replacing ORD as the main aerodrome in the region.

For the last 20+ years, the land in Will County was going to be the site of the new facility, augmenting ORD.

It was touted as a major jobs creator.

And, indeed, it has been. At least for the folks who’ve done all the “studies” that, gee, all validated the need for the airport.

Fleet Notes: Sukhoi SuperJet Not So Super

Interjet, Mexican airline flying the Russian Sukhoi RRJ95B, has put one of their fleet of 22 into storage, and has officially scrapped two others that had been being  used as parts-bins.

The 100-seat Russian-built aircraft, even with the design participation of a range of suppliers such as Boeing, Curtiss-Wright and Honeywell, has been unable to penetrate any meaningful part of the global aviation marketplace. Reportedly, parts and tech support has been a problem for Mexican carrier Interjet.

The image of the airplane wasn’t helped when one of them flew into a mountain on a demonstration flight in Indonesia in 2012.

Small RJ Reprieve?

In January and February, the AA system has brought back several 37-seat jets into the Eagle fleet.

Some stored for a few years… an expensive process to get them operational again.

Open question is whether these machines are there to make money or defend hub turf.

Aviation Media Loses A Leader

Susan Cary is retiring from the Wall Street Journal.

Susan has been one of the leaders in covering the airline and aviation business for three decades. Her insight and expertise has been at the top of the industry, and her reporting has given us all new perspectives to often very complex issues.

All of us at BGI wish Susan the best in the future.

More BTS Data Nonsense…

Take a look at the nonsense and hand wringing coming from various media sources regarding the 3Q BTS “fare” report.

As usual, there are the righteous outrage reports in local newspapers that “Our fares are higher than the national average!”

Here’s a clue… there is no way to compare the “national average” with a single airport… all airports have different geography and economic base and consumer distribution. There is no national “average” fare. In addition, the BTS numbers aren’t fares charged per se, but are average ticket spend… which means that it will vary by location of the airport.

It is unfortunate that these BTS reports are not fully explained before they get in to hands of local reporters.

“Itinerary spend” – varies from airport to airport. Midland, Texas has an average itinerary of under 900 miles. Newark is over 1,500. Denver’s around 1,200. The travel mixes are not comparable. There is no “average” metric.

Get the message?  Fares at various airports are based on a range of factors that totally preclude this nonsense of “average fares.”

By the way, the GAO has recommended that this BTS system be completely overhauled.

But that was twenty one years ago. In the meantime, it’s incumbent for the media to get to understand these data – and to realize that they are from the Feds, not Mount Sinai.

Another “Regional Commuter” Goes 86

Seaborne Airlines of the Caribbean has filed “chapter” and is in line to be blended into Silver Airways.

To be sure, the spate of hurricanes and the devastation to an already-depressed Puerto Rican economy likely had much to do with the filing.

But, it is in line with the collapse of other “independent” carriers such as GLO and Pen Air. The reality is that this mode of transportation simply does not have the economics to survive in many formerly-viable applications.

Particularly tough are intra-island markets, where costs are high, segments are short, and there’s lots of salt in the air.

A Couple of Losses For Aviation In 2017

We’re sad to note that in the last part of 2017 the passing of two of our good friends in aviation.

Fred Johnson, who worked with us in maintenance projects, passed away. Fred was a good friend and ski-buddy as well as one of the most experienced in his field, from DC-3s to the Concorde. We will miss him.

Also, folks from Braniff and Southwest lost Leroy Carroll in December. Leroy was a tower in operations at both carriers, and a close confident of Herb Kelleher. He, too, leaves wonderful memories for all who were lucky enough to work for and with him.