Airport development an idea for right now

September 17, 2012

Uncategorized

I hate flying. Every time I climb on board one of those tin cans, I think, “Surely, God didn’t intend for us to be hanging around at 10,000 feet.” The source of my distaste used to be my irrational fear of flying.
Panic would set in days before my scheduled trip. During the trip, turbulence would cause me to break into a sweat. Pity my seat mate! Perfect strangers were often enlisted to hold my hand during bumpy flights.
I’m better now. I visited a hypnotist who helped me get over this. Instead of an irrational fear of flying, I  now have a very rational loathing of flying. The delays. The cramped seating. More delays. Lost luggage. Crying babies. Did I mention the delays?
For many business people, climbing on a plane is just another part of the work day. Those tin cans are conduits for economic activity. Good airports with decent flight schedules are important to business development.
Then there’s Jackson. Oh, the airport is nice enough, and I really like the new garage, but the last two times I’ve flown, I experienced big delays on the initial leg of my flight. Schedules have become leaner. Non-stop flights are rare. It’s hard to get here, and it’s hard to leave.
Maybe we need to think of the airlines as an accessory to economic development. After all, we build new roads to lure business to our area. We offer big tax breaks to manufacturers who locate here. Why not invest in air travel in an “out of the box” way?
Forget worrying about a nice airport building. What people really care about is getting where they need to go in a reasonable time. Maybe we could entice the airlines to offer better schedules and more flights with subsidies. How about a bigger bonus for non-stop flights? What about offering a guaranteed return? Or maybe we could just hire an extra baggage handler?
If we really want to be innovative, we could start our own regional airline. We’ll call it  Magnolia Airlines, and we’ll serve sweet tea and fried catfish on every flight. “Y’all come fly with us for real down home service!” I’m convinced any money spent on this endeavor would return to us ten-fold.
I’m calling the governor. I have a million ideas! That’s what three hours stuck in the Jackson airport will do to you!

Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158.  She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and her website is www.newper.com.

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2 Responses to “Airport development an idea for right now”

  1. Ray Kone Says:

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  2. Richard Says:

    The airline industry is contracting. Continental, TWA, Northwest, America West, AirTran, Eastern and other “legacy” carriers have been acquired by the remaining Big 4 – Delta, America, United, and USAirways. That is all that is left in terms of legacy carriers. Four airlines. American is talking about merger with USAirways. That would leave three. All of the legacy carriers fly to Jackson. That means the only other airline options are discount carriers – Southwest, JetBlue, Allegient, Spirit, and a few others. Southwest already flies to Jackson. That doesn’t leave much left. The few other discount airlines that do not fly to Jackson typical offer long-haul service for business and leisure travelers on flights offered once or twice a week (e.g., Allegient). JetBlue usually flies only high volume routes (Boston – New York). There isn’t much airline service to be offered that Jackson’s airport doesn’t already offer.

    In terms of frequency of flights, the carriers in Jackson use smaller load capacity planes so that they can offer more frequency. But, many fliers complain about these regional jets (50-80 seaters). The larger planes necessiate more people in seats because of the economies involved. Well, the airlines can better fill 6 flights a day with 50 seats per plane (300 seats per day) than 6 flights a day with 150 seats per plane (900 seats per day). For those carriers that offer services on larger planes, like Delta and Southwest, the frequency of flights is lesser because the Jackson metro market doesn’t demand 900 seats per day…thus to still use the bigger planes in Jackson, they offer fewer daily flight options.

    Jackson’s airport is actually doing well compared to cities of its size. Mobile, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, Montgomery, Huntsville, all have less airline service than Jackson. Little Rock has only slightly more direct flight destinations than Jackson and one airline Jackson doesn’t have (Frontier). This may surprise you, but both Memphis and Birmingham have the same exact airlines as Jackson – no more, no less. They do, however, have more non-stop destinations.

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