Posts Tagged ‘Dayton International Airport’

Airports Face Hard Fight to Regain Traffic

July 2, 2018

Akron-Canton Airport and Dayton International Airport have much in common.

Both serve medium-size urban areas that sit in the shadow of a much larger metropolis that hosts an airport with far more airline service.

Both have within the past year lost service from Southwest Airlines and other carriers and are struggling to attract new routes.

Both had a small measure of success last month when United Airlines began flying from both to Houston, using a United Express branded regional partner.

Each airport has daily flights to many top business centers in the eastern United States and the hub airports of the major airlines.

However, Dayton has more non-stop flights to western destinations including Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The respective airports have a limited number of flights to Florida with Allegiant providing those at Dayton and Spirit connecting the Sunshine State with Akron-Canton.

And each has other distant airports draining away passenger traffic, which makes the challenge of landing new service even more difficult.

In the case of Dayton that is John Glenn Columbus International Airport while for Akron-Canton it is Pittsburgh International Airport and Columbus.

Officials at both airports can also look back a few years and see glory days that have come and gone.

Dayton in July 1982 became the Midwest hub airport for Piedmont Airlines, a former local service carrier with most of its routes in the Southeast. That hub continued in operation after USAir took over Piedmont in August 1985.

But USAir reduced long-distance flights from Dayton in 1990 and closed the hub in January 1992, reducing the number of flights from 73 to 20.

Akron-Canton has never served as a hub for any airline but saw its passenger traffic double between 2000 and 2006 when low-fare carriers AirTran and Frontier added flights to several destinations.

But Frontier eventually left Akron-Canton for nearby Cleveland Hopkins Interntional Airport and Southwest, which acquired AirTran, eventually discontinuing most of the former AirTran routes and ended service altogether to CAK in June 2017.

That same year Allegiant Air pulled out of Akron-Canton in favor of Cleveland.

As tough as it might be for Akron-Canton and Dayton, they are better situated than airports serving Toledo and Youngstown.

Youngstown-Warren Airport lost its only scheduled airline service in January when Allegiant pulled out.

Toledo Express Airport lives in the considerable shadow of Detroit Metropolitan Airport which as a hub for Delta Airline offers flights to all corners of North American and to European, South American and Asian destinations.

Toledo has daily service to Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina, by American Airlines regional partner American Eagle. Allegiant also flies from Toledo, although not daily.

Although airport officials at Akron-Canton and Dayton speak optimistically about airline growth, many see it differently and think any growth will be incremental.

That message was hammered home recently in Dayton when Fitch Ratings downgraded from BBB+ to BBB the bond ratings for the Dayton Airport, the first time in a decade that has occurred.

That means it may cost the airport more to issue bonds for airport improvements.

But it also reflects a concern by analysts about Dayton’s ability to manage costs, meaningfully grow its customer base and compete with larger nearby airports.

At the same time, Fitch changed its rating outlook for the airport to stable. It had been negative since late 2016.

Airline traffic at Dayton continues to slide just as it has at Akron-Canton in the past year.

Passenger boardings at Dayton fell 8 percent in 2017 to 950,620. Overall traffic has fallen by 24 percent since 2009.

Airport officials attribute much of the decline to the loss of Southwest service.

Dayton’s director of aviation, Terry Slaybaugh, believes the key to building traffic is to focus on meeting demand for business trips because unlike leisure passengers, business travelers are less willing to drive significant distances to catch a flight.

Dayton has ramped up its marking to the business community.

Paul Lewis, vice president of policy at the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington said that a city as large as Dayton will always have demand for flights to such major markets as New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas,

But Lewis said industry consolidation has led to fewer airlines, which reduces the need for as many airline hubs, particularly in smaller markets.

There was a time when airports such as Dayton and Akron-Canton could count on attracting large number of leisure travelers because of the flights they offered by low-fare airlines such as Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit.

Akron-Canton capitalized on that with the marketing slogan “a better way to go.”

For a time, fares from Cleveland tended to be higher because it was a hub for Continental Airlines and, later, United.

But after United closed the hub in 2014, the low-fare carriers began expanding in Cleveland in droves, which reflected a trend of low-fare carriers forsaking medium-size cities for larger cities.

Akron-Canton and Youngstown have seen those carriers sharply increase service from Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Leisure air service also has taken off at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and from Columbus.

Slaybaugh said Dayton is working with its existing carriers to increase flights and bring in larger aircraft providing first class, business and economy service.

In the meantime, both Dayton and Akron-Canton have given their terminals and parking lots a face lift in an effort to provide more passenger convenience.

But fares and availability of flight options still drive traffic.

“If you buy a legacy ticket, we’re usually cheaper,” Slaybaugh said. “That’s something that still drives traffic. But now with some of the service changes, we know people are leaving.”

Whereas once Cincinnati had some of the highest average airfares in the country, it now has some of the lowest.

That has come during a time when air fares on average increased in Dayton to the point where they are larger than those at Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Akron-Canton.

As Ohio’s medium size airports battle to win back some of the traffic they once had, they also find themselves with more space than they need for the passengers they have.

Some parking lots at Akron-Canton have been closed, but have found a new use.

Kane Logistics, which provides warehousing, distribution and freight services for a number of companies, is temporarily using the lots to store trailers.

Cleveland Gains Flights at CAK’s Expense

January 7, 2017

As it turns out, Akron-Canton Airport’s loss will be Cleveland Hopkins Airport’s gain.

Cleveland HopkinsWhen Southwest operates to Akron-Canton for the final time on June 3, it will divert those flights to Hopkins the next day.

Southwest said on Thursday that it will launch on June 4 two Cleveland-Atlanta roundtrips and add an addition flight between Hopkins and St. Louis.

It will be Southwest’s first foray into the Cleveland-Atlanta market, which is also served by Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines. Southwest is the only carrier flying non-stop between Cleveland and St. Louis.

Southwest currently offers three roundtrips between Akron-Canton and Atlanta.

It is not the first time that Southwest has expanded in Ohio at the expense of Akron-Canton.

Flights that Southwest once operated between Akron-Canton and Boston were last year shifted to Columbus while a flight to Denver was shifted to Hopkins.

Also losing Southwest service will be Dayton, which will see its flights shifted to Cincinnati, which is currently not served by Southwest. Cincinnati will gain service to Baltimore and Chicago (Midway).

The route restructuring is part of a trend for Southwest to shift service away from small and mid-size airports in favor of hub markets in larger cities that analysts say offer more potential for profitability growth.

Dayton has seen Southwest play out the same script that has unfolded at Akron-Canton over the past year.

Southwest replaced AirTran at Dayton in August 2012 and once offered flights to Baltimore, Denver, Orlando, Tampa. But last year Southwest shifted its Dayton service to Chicago Midway Airport.

Dayton also lost Frontier Airlines in May 2013 and it later began service to Cincinnati. That mirrored what Frontier did in moving flights from Akron-Canton to Cleveland.

Some of the slack left by Frontier in Dayton was taken up by Allegiant Air in April 2016 when it began landing there.

Also providing service to Dayton are American, Delta, United Express and American Eagle.

The airport’s website notes that non-stop service is offered to 15 airports.