JetBlue Destroys Airports!
According to this article in my local newspaper, passenger loads at Charlottesville Airport--from which I depart on a regular basis--have declined by more than 5 percent over the past year. The reason: Ricmond International Airport, located only an hour and fifteen minutes away, now boasts cheap flights with Airtran and JetBlue. Richmond used to be a very expensive airport to fly into and out of, but the introduction of budget airlines has driven its prices down and increased its passenger load by more than 15 percent. Much has been written about budget carriers' effect on legacy carriers; but less has been said about their effect on regional airports, which lack the passenger loads to lure a budget carrier--which succeeds only when it packs planes to their fullest--into town. As the article explains, Charlottesville residents are now more inclined to drive to Richmond knowing that they can save over a 100 bucks. Although the commercial side of Charlottesville's airport won't shut down any time soon, it might very well lose some flights, or worse, an entire airline. Northwest recently started nonstop service to Detroit, but USAir terminated its flights to Pittsburgh and Delta cancelled an ill-conceived and ultimately unprofitable nonstop service to Orlando. It won't be long, I speculate, before USAir reconsiders its service to Philadelphia and Delta its service to Cincinnati. Planes on these routes are frequently scarcely populated, leading to cancellations, delays and headaches. Yet another reason to pack the car for Richmond.