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From: The Airport Bonds - Just Follow the Money

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gpatt0n

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Yea, I think Whitey went a little off the tracks with those comments.

 

The issue to me is still:

 

1) IF Commercial Air Traffic *from our location* is viable at all. It's not like it's easy to get to here from over 90% of the population of the Atlanta area. Where are all these passengers to one or two destinations going to come from? Why drive an extra hour or so here instead of Hartsfield-Jackson?

 

2) What does happen if #1 is not true? No airline can afford to run money losing flights for months on end. Is the county on the hook for the cost of the improvements with no additional income at that point? It seems like it to me. Is the reward worth the risk? Maybe it is to the guys who are not the taxpayers that will fund the mistake, but not to me.

 

Propeller is not an airline. They cannot guarantee service here. Charter service is laughable. Service to the sports center is a red herring.

 

The other point is that all these other successful regional airports have done it *without* the expensive overhead of risky passenger service. They have built a solid base outside of a recession. What happened here? We built the airport, a recession hit, then a tornado wiped out what aircraft/hangers we had managed to build. The BOC and AA seem to be pushing this faster than it makes sense to go. Slow growth is much healthier growth.

 

My tax bills are high enough without funding the pipe dreams that this seems to be. Propeller has no track record of success. I'm just not seeing the upside to this.

 

 

When first presented with the idea, I was just about where you are SG. I was curious and skeptical ... and then I saw the world press take notice. Why would they care?

 

I did a little more research on the airline industry - not enough to make me an expert on airlines - but enough to note there are some less than obvious opportunities when it comes to enhancing competition. The airline carriers are pulling back, limiting service to smaller cities and eliminating in some others. Air transportation is a public-private partnership much like the highways ... where the government provides the locations and private industry provides carriers and even, in the case of general aviation, airplanes. The obvious analogy is to public highways on which run Greyhound buses, semi-tractors, limosines, sedans, convertibles and harlies. Some carry passengers for hire, others own their own.

 

In the big picture, Atlanta is not just a hub, it is a destination and getting here requires you be able to land here. There are some carriers who can't. Then there are the smaller airports that lost their service anywhere and with smaller providers effectively blocked from Atlanta, those airports can't even get here using small regional jets or even small regional turboprops.

 

Those smaller to mid-sized airports that have lost flights to Atlanta, because of federal law, can have carriers subsidized to maintain service. But with the consolidation of airlines, there were no competitors ready to fill the void when Delta and other major carriers pulled out, not necessarily because it was not profitable, but because the ROI was not 'high enough.'

 

In real estate, the saying is location, location, location. In the Atlanta airport market monopolized by Hartsfield-Jackson, it is location. The plain fact is the market is more than big enough for location, location and probably there is room for the third location.

 

See SG, monopolies distort markets and that is what I got from the interest of the world press in this project in little old Paulding.

 

And, as far as H-J, consider for just a moment that it is hardly unusual for a commercial passenger to transfer from say Reagan National to Dulles or from JFK to LaGuardia or even Newark, DFW to Hobby or Love ... and the trip from Silver Comet to H-J would actually be among the most direct by cab or car in any of these examples. There is even a google ad war going on amongst cabs, limo companies, etc. for those trips there.

 

I'll leave it to you to look up the others but the point is that if as little as 1/10th of one-percent (one in a thousand) of the traffic going through H-J needed to go to or from one of the small markets for a connection or for any other reason that would equate to over 100,000 passengers.

 

No doubt they would rather transfer from one gate at Hartsfield-Jackson to another but with the major airlines eliminating that service, guess what.

 

Then there was the H-J research that pegged the projected traffic volume through Paulding's airport at between 300,000 and 1.3 million annually whil asserting it would cost close to $3 billion to do it (including re-routing US 278) which I see as a ridiculous (and self-serving since H-J wants to expand another runway or two at H-J at a cost of about $3 billion, duh?)

 

So, what is the bottom line?

 

First, air transportation is and always will be part of the national priority because it is the 'inter-city rapid transport' system.

 

Second, air transportation is structured as a public/private partnership much like our highway system.

 

Third: the airline carriers have been in a period of consolidation and have created areas of dominance that allow them to set prices and, more importantly, restrict services in ways detrimental to the traveling public and especially the mid-sized and smaller communities they are supposed to serve.

 

Forth: As a country, we can either accept 'unacceptable' levels of service, re-regulate the industry bureaucratically to provide acceptable service, or foster competition to allow the market to right itself and provide new opportunities for new players to provide acceptable service in markets that are suffering (including through incentives as currently in law or modification of those incentives.)

 

That is the niche of the broader perspectives that our little old Silver Comet Field in little old Paulding County Georgia fulfills.

 

Now, add the proximity of the new Braves stadium; Lake Point Sports and Bartow's Sochi playground ... oh and the people you've identified as 'not enough alone' to make the airport a success.

 

Then add the international notoriety, and I'd say good publicity (and concomitant accolades) that come from being the David in the David and Goliath story of doing this despite the strong opposition both publicly and surreptitiously of Delta and H-J.

 

You can't buy publicity like that. That publicity can't help but accomplish the goal of bringing good jobs to the community.

 

pubby

 

Source: The Airport Bonds - Just Follow the Money

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Yea, this is forever old, but I never knew you responded here.  :) 

Anyway:

Well, you make some good points, but I'm still not convinced.

There are two types of flyers since de-regulation.  The business flyer and the personal flyer.  

The business flyer for the most part wants options and wants to get to the destination ASAP. 

The personal flyer just wants to get to the destination as cheaply as possible. 

I couldn't find an actual statistic, but I'd be surprised if business travel wasn't over 60% of the traffic at HJ.   Maybe as much as 80% for some airlines such as Delta.  When 1/2 to 3/4 of the plane are premium frequent flyers, you know that almost all of them are business travelers. 

Business travelers want options in case their their plans change. One or two flights a day ain't going to cut it for them.  One or two a week is right out.   Add in that our airport would be an extra 30 minutes+ extra driving for 90% of them and they are not going to use it.   That cuts your possible traffic down quite a bit.   Add in that Delta has direct flights to most major cities from here and that's where I'm going to fly.  

So, looking at the personal flyers, there are a lot of them, but who are they flying?   That's right, the cheapest airlines at HJ, Spirit, jetblue, and Southwest (well, SW is getting some business travel for their higher fares that assign seats) and their like.  So the airport here will be fighting for traffic against the cheapest  flights in Atlanta.  Going to be hard to undercut THEM by enough to make it worthwhile for someone to drive to Paulding down 278. (Since we don't have an interstate)

I just don't see it working. 

PS

I've noticed signs on 75N that Chattanooga is putting out about flying from there instead of HJ saying its a better commute.  Google maps estimates from my house show it to be only a little longer to get there from here, than HJ, but I looked an most of the cities I fly to are connecting flights.   For business travel, that's a killer. The only thing worse than getting stranded at your destination is getting stranded at an intermediate stop where you know no one and no body.    No thanks. 

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