Wednesday, July 22, 2015

San Angelo's Courting New Airlines

Curious about the impact of low oil prices on air travel demand I began searching for statistics.  Midland has an economic index that shows changes in flying from the prior year.  Midland airline boardings fell 1.1% in May and are down 3.4% year to date.

The City of San Angelo's website states:

Airport Statistics: More than 66,000 passengers annually, seven commercial passenger flights per day and almost 100,000 air operations annually.

It does not state how many travelers flew American Eagle so far this year or how it compares to prior periods.  However, a search identified Airport Advisory Board minutes with relevant information.  November 2014 minutes stated:

Total enplanements are growing despite having only five flights a day.

Five is less than the seven stated by city officials.  The comparison of San Angelo to Minot, North Dakota came before the bloom wilted on the fracking rose.  A community half the size of San Angelo went from one airline with three flights a day to four airlines with fifteen flights a day.  Consultants believed San Angelo was 24 to 28 months behind Minot's dramatic increase in flight demand.

Mr. Sanders (Sonny) wanted to know if there are other airlines we are looking at besides United and SkyWest.  
The May 2014 minutes reflected American Airlines parking planes, reducing services and leasing planes to other airlines.

SkyWest Airlines is beginning to operate as American Eagle out of ORD (Chicago) with CRJ 200s. .
This shows the convoluted nature of the airline industry.  American would rather send business away from a subsidiary to an unaffiliated company.  Apparently American's recent bankruptcy didn't drive down airline employee wages and benefits enough.

American's latest quarterly report listed the smattering of regional carriers it uses:

Regional statistics include our subsidiaries, Envoy Aviation Group Inc. (Envoy, formerly known as AMR Eagle Holding Corporation), Piedmont Airlines, Inc. (Piedmont) and PSA Airlines, Inc. (PSA), and operating and financial results from our capacity purchase agreements with Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation, Chautauqua Airlines, Inc., ExpressJet Airlines, Inc., Mesa Airlines, Inc., Republic Airline Inc., SkyWest Airlines, Inc. and Compass Airlines, LLC. 
American also listed its subsidiaries in their latest annual report.  The city doesn't want to inadvertently invite American to the table to compete against American.

COSADC's update indicated the city approached Boutique Air to start a route from San Angelo to Houston.  Boutique flies subsidized niche routes and markets itself as "fly private for the cost of commercial."

San Angelo's Chamber of Commerce publishes air travel statistics as part of its Business Barometer.  Air travel and hotel rooms have decreased relative to last year.

Things cycle until they don't.  It will be interesting to see upcoming developments on the San Angelo air service front.

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