Flight Blog

 

2015 was a record year at the Springfield airport — the total passenger count was 919,044. It demolishes the old record set in 2005 of 888,738, and is a 9% increase over 2014 passenger numbers.

Here’s another way of putting it: over 70,000 more passengers used the airport last year than in 2014. Why the huge growth? It’s a sign that the southwest Missouri economy is much improved — when the economy does poorly, fewer people fly. When it does better, more people fly because they have more expendable income.

2015 was marked not only by a record number of passengers, but also by several air service improvements —

American Airlines started new twice-daily service to its major hub in Charlotte, and all the airlines are using some bigger planes at Springfield. Demand is so high that over the past four years airlines have increased the number of seats for sale in Springfield by nearly 16%.

Ok, ok — what everyone really wants to know is how will growth improve air service, or change the airport? There are no exact answers, but here’s what may generally happen —

Within the next two to three years the airport will likely have more than a million total passengers. A million passengers is a big deal because once an airport hits that number, the business playing field starts to change. As numbers grow beyond a million, more than one restaurant may be willing to set up shop at the airport. That’s important to some customers because as they tell us, “we want more restaurant choices.”

What about more non-stop destinations? Convincing an airline to add destinations is always a tough sell, but beyond the million mark, it may get a bit easier. Much depends on the economy, the price of jet fuel, and the general business climate in the airline industry.

As some of you have noticed, growth does bring challenges — last year the airport’s parking lots frequently ran out of space — there were more cars than spaces! We should have parking lot expansion projects under construction later this year.

All in all 2015 was a great year — here’s to another in 2016!

 



Airline growth is always good, but the new year, and the growth that comes with it, presents challenges — we need your help to make sure we stay on track.

A couple of weeks ago the airlines serving Springfield turned in their passenger numbers for November — those numbers all but confirm that 2015 will end up being the busiest year in the history of the Springfield airport.

The all-time airline passenger record for Springfield was set in 2005, with 888,738 total passengers. This year the airlines are on track to move more than 920,000 people through our airport.

Airline growth is good for Springfield and the region, but it presents challenges for the airport — we need your help to make sure we stay on track.

Earlier this year we commissioned a survey of airline passengers at the airport. They had mostly good things to say, but as you’ll see in a minute, there’s room for improvement.

H2R Marketing Research, a Springfield based company, conducted the survey from May 15th to August 15th of this year. 543 departing passengers participated. Overall satisfaction was 4.48 on a 5 point scale. These same passengers rated other airports at 3.61.

Jerry Henry, the owner of H2R, says the survey shows that wait time in the check-in line is the single most important thing to passengers — the shorter, the better. They also want clean restrooms, helpful and efficient TSA security staff, and a pleasing atmosphere. In all of these areas the airport gets very high marks.

But here’s the kicker —

The last passenger survey we did was in 2011. Since then the number of people using the airport has increased more than 20%, while the average satisfaction score fell 3%. That’s the challenge we face — as the number of people using the airport grows, customer satisfaction goes down.

Jerry tells us that whenever there a big increase in customers, satisfaction levels tend to go down. As he puts it, “It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re talking about — a hotel, an attraction, or a retail store. The decrease in customer satisfaction is not unexpected. What was unexpected was how little the score fell.”

While it’s good to know that a 3% decrease is good, we want to do better. And that’s where we need your help. Give us your feedback; let us know how we’re doing — not just today, but anytime.

There are many things that people dislike about air travel. Those things show up clearly in the survey. They include the cost of airline fare. Airline fees, delayed flights, cancelled flights, airplane mechanical problems, parking rates, security screening, and the price of coffee.

We sympathize, but please know that the airport has little or no control over some of these issues. Believe you me — if we could fix some of those airline issues we’d do it in a heartbeat!

That being said let us know everything. We’ll let you know if it’s something the airport can’t control, and why. And we’ll do our best to improve those things that we can.

You can reach out to us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/flysgf , via Twitter @flySGF, or email: info at flyspringfield.com.

You can read the full survey report by clicking here.

 


 

In our recent post about the slight downward trend in fares Jason Blevins offered this on Facebook:

“You (the airport) have a direct influence in fare rates. Your contracted landing fees and SKY HIGH fuel rates drive up the costs.” 

Here’s how it really works. Let’s start with fuel. The airport does not sell fuel to the airlines. Each airline has its own contract with the oil company.

As for landing fees, that assertion is off base too...

The airport/airline business has a metric called “cost per enplanement.” That’s CPE for short.

CPE is the cost to the airline, at a given airport, for every passenger who gets on a plane. CPE includes landing fees, and the lease cost airlines pay for facilities at the airport.

In April the CPE at the Springfield airport was $5.70 per passenger. In 2012 a report by Moody’s Investment Services stated that the average CPE nationwide was $7.76.

Keep in mind that the Moody’s number is an average. At some airports it's much higher. Want to see for yourself? Click here to take the Google search for a CPE spin ....

You’ll find in places like Miami International the CPE was $20.39 in 2013. Cleveland: $15.37 in 2013. Dallas: $6.74 in 2012.

If you’d like to talk just about landing fees, the current landing fee at Springfield is $1.30 per thousand pounds. 

Click here to check out this St. Louis Post-Dispatch story from 2011 on landing fees in St. Louis...

What you'll find in the story: in 2011 the landing fee at St. Louis was $8.96. Kansas City: $1.96.

I know a lot of you are scratching your head at this point. If CPE is lower in Springfield, why aren’t fares lower? As a matter of principle, most airports, including ours, do everything they can to keep cost low. But in the final analysis CPE doesn't have much to do with fares.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out this story from January in the Dallas Morning News...

Please note the paper's quote from the chairman of American Airlines, Doug Parker: “What we believe is that pricing is tied to demand… and that’s what we should base our pricing on and not based on our cost structure.”

The newspaper reporter put it more succinctly: "On their earnings call Tuesday, American Airlines executives said that demand, not costs, determines what they charge for fares."