Aviation: Serving 500 or 5500 Airports?

Anybody interested in providing the solution?

The DOT’s Future of Aviation Advisory Committee recently met and comments made in the meeting  indicate that small market airports are not in the airlines’ future plans – at least not the large carriers.  In fact, if not for the DOT’s Essential Air Service program, many cities currently receiving airline service would be in the no- airline zone. You can’t blame the airlines for not wanting to lose money; and, the current airline business model doesn’t work to serve smaller cities without government subsidies.

So, if the airlines cannot provide the solution, who can?

With fewer service options and more time spent processing through the system, the time to travel between small cities by airline often exceeds the time it takes to drive. Why fly when the drive costs less and doesn’t take much, if any, more time? Because flying often doesn’t make sense with the current options available, more people are opting for other means of transportation, drawing resources away from small airports.

What those airports and their communities don’t know today, but could know, are the true travel intentions of the people they are trying to serve. The airports must find out who, when and where.  In other words, they must identify the demand. 

Identifying the demand could be as simple as finding physicians in a community who are all attending an AMA convention.  This is just an example of the concept of group-buying, using an eight-passenger jet or a 30-seat regional airliner for the day to meet the specific demand to connect a group directly to another city.  Other examples could be alumni traveling to sporting events, golfers going to a new course or hunters traveling to a new lodge, etc.  If there is known demand, then supply will surely meet it. So, how do we find the demand?

Can Social Networking be a tool small communities can use to solve their air transportation problems through aggregating demand for travel?

Yes, it can.   Business Aviation, including small and large air charter operators, and small regional airlines, are in the perfect position to solve those air transportation problems.  We are sitting on a highly flexible (mobile), underutilized and diverse fleet of aircraft. Travel needs could be met on demand and by the seat with the right knowledge.  This may not provide a low fare airline solution that everyone thinks they want in their hometown; but, it could provide time-efficient and point-to-point travel at a reasonable price.

Isn’t that what we really want anyway?