Monday Insight – February 7, 2022

China-US Traffic Collapse…
Maybe Good News For Omaha & Spokane

United has “postponed” flights from LAX, SFO, ORD and IAD to points in China. In most cases, for nine months.

In most cases, these cancellations are for the next nine months. However, the reality is that the traffic base that supported these routes are as dead as Confucius’ poodle. With the changes that have taken place in China over the past five years, it is not the same market. The 3 million Chinese visitors seen in 2017 – part of the total 8 million O&D – are not here today and won’t be anytime in the foreseeable future. Business traffic? The Chinese economy has been supported by giant Ponzi schemes.

Okay, do a quick thought on the resources these flights gobbled up – aircraft, pilot time, cabin crews, facilities. They are largely still in place, and the cascading changes that will be driven by the need to utilize them only point to the possibility of additional capacity in the USA.

One thing is certain – the high hopes for USA-China air traffic are gone. US carriers will need to adjust to this.


Small & Rural Airports –
Time To Look Beyond Commercial Flights

In just about every media story regarding small community airports, the focus gets hijacked to the need for scheduled flights. The groupthink is that without “air service” the community is economically doomed.

The groupthink is that “commercial service” is a simple commodity. It is assumed to open the community to commercial expansion that would be impossible without those “scheduled flights” – which tend never to be defined. It’s like the dishonest internet surveys that get foisted on communities that report profound conclusions, like “74% of respondents would use the local airport” without any attempt to define what the specifics of that service are.

The SCASD Program Was Great. ‘Cept, It Hasn’t Done Diddly For Truly Small Communities. The Small Community Air Service Development Grant Program now marks its 20th year. It was founded on a whole passel of groupthink misconceptions. One is whether an airport has “higher than average fares,” when there is no such metric. But the underlying tenet of the SCASD program is that every small airport should focus on scheduled passenger service, which in the light of airline economics, the changes in the role of air travel as a communication channel, and huge shifts in consumer preferences, is sheer malarkey.

As we’ve stated in the past, Boyd Group International SCASD applications have won over $23 million for our clients – in the first 15 years of the program. But in recent years we have found few such projects that make sense, and we don’t chase after grant program we a professionals know to be dead ends.

But that does not change the fact that our total airport system is a huge economic generator. What now needs to be done is to engender investment and business expansion at small airports… beyond lost-cause spending on trying to attract passenger flights that don’t exist and would be uneconomic in any case.

Time To Call The Game On Realities, Not Political Correctness. Log On This Thursday For A Special Boyd+Swelbar Unvarnished Video. This week, we’re dispensing with the agenda and will be taking on the issues surrounding small community airports and air service.

Plan on just 25 minutes – or maybe a bit less – of no-holds-barred discussion of how current air service development thinking is getting deeper and deeper in groupthink quicksand. Bill Swelbar and Mike Boyd will be varnishing a lot of bad policies that are actually keeping America and its airport system aimed squarely at the 1950s.

For small airports, the emerging trends in aviation and logistics point to an exciting future. But continued efforts to keep them chasing the past will lead them exactly there.

Log on to Boyd+Swelbar Unvarnished by clicking here, and click there this Thursday, too.


On This Week’s Aviation Unscripted Video…

We’re dealing with some of the terminology that’s commonly used in aviation planning.

Within this, some of that terminology describes an air transportation system that no longer exists, and perpetrates misunderstanding of air transportation realities.

Here’s a hint: consumers’ use of air transportation does not rely on the geographic location of one airport v another.

Also, that choice of air service which the consumer may make at another airport, instead of what’s at the local airport, is a natural consumer choice. Within this, the assumption that “leakage” can be retained in all cases (or, today, actually most cases) is entirely nonsense.

Regionalization is not coming. It’s here. Take a look at Aviation Unscripted by clicking here.