Thursday, October 11, 2012

Air Mendoza

Some things need to be looked at relatively.   It looks like national air transportation stats for the nation show a pretty consistent increase in passengers.  Yet the news here is a decline, and a pretty big decline at over 5% year over year, in passengers at Greater Pitt. .  Remember when prognostications were all aglow over a nominal increase in traffic of just over 1%? Nobody really contemplated it was all a potentially itinerant bounce from Air Roustabout?  Anyone? Not in the record at least.

So if you look at the current ranking of the top 50 airports in the US.. and impute a 5% decline here between 2011 and 2012 you get a gloomy potentiality.   It is entirely possible Pittsburgh's airport drops off that list entirely?  Probably we are still hanging in there, but not by much and I bet right now we are hovering near that #50.

Maybe we will be forced to go Amtrak?  Or not.  A commenter in a previous version of this post suggests more folks want to drive to nearby east cost destinations.  For sure that is true, but are folks driving because they want to, or because they can't find affordable flights instead. The inference was that driving is easier I guess, which would mean the airport's real trend is caused by the return of the 65 mph speed limit.

Here is the thing.  Most stories on utilization at the airport look at the trend since the new terminal was built.  for example this graphic. That time frame may be missing the boat. What about if you start earlier and look at the trend?  I have gratuitously thrown in Cleveland in this graphic of enplanements since1989.   The new terminal here opened in 1992 yes?   What does the period before the new terminal look like compared to now. 


1989 :
1990 :
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2011 :


Anonymous Anonymous said...

65? In Ohio it's 70 on the Turnpike now. Same in Michigan. CLE - DET is much more drivable now than ever.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 9:36:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Russell said...


Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Russell said...

It's like the regional workforce story:

Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Russell said...

Can you mash up all three airports into a graph? It would be interesting to see if there is Cleveburgh traffic growth.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cincinnati has fallen out of the Top 50

Thursday, October 11, 2012 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

Its not just the 65 MPH. Its also the long delays and inconvenience caused by the post 9-11 security. And some people just hate all that groping going on. Just easier to get in the car and drive six hrs than go through all that hassle.

Of course, going strictly by enplanements means losing the hub status is by far the biggest factor.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

The drop does appear to start at the point where you needed pick between x-ray and groping.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's less to do with x-rays and groping and more with the general security measures. Think about Monroeville to Philly. An hour to PIT in order to arrive 2 hours early, by that time you could be halfway to Philly and you didn't even board the plane yet. For anything under a 6 hour drive, just not worth it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

But that hasn't changed in 10 years and the numbers keep dropping.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 1:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right, it was, maybe in rose-tinted hindsight, a much quicker and smoother process pre-9/11. The creation of the TSA seems to make air travel a lot more of a hassle, not just x-rays and pat downs which were more recent changes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 1:04:00 PM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

Yeah, they added taking off the shoes....then after the underwear bomber the groping is much more intrusive. Keep changing the bottled liquids rules. Searching of bags. Plus the airlines are charging for luggage even carry-ons.
Drive easier and take a lot of stuff with ya.....

Thursday, October 11, 2012 1:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For sure that is true, but are folks driving because they want to, or because they can't find affordable flights instead."

Ah. No. Had that. Called Southwest to Philly. Max fare of $299 r/t, even for walk-ups. Not enough traffic to fill the route. Southwest left. Now I'm paying $577 r/t mid-week on USAir with 21 day advance purchase.

If anything, it's proximity and age. Our older population is also poorer (as in less wealthy)--on average--than other places. Ergo, we are a small air market without a hub. If there was a market for more flights, I'm pretty sure the airlines would be coming. They're not.

BTW, Delta announced yesterday a hub for old, dingy, crowded, slot limited and oft delayed La Guardia. Maybe that will finally put a fork in the politicians' pipe dream of PIT being an East Coast "overflow" airport and concentrate on what we have. A nice, underutilized field. The sooner we get that debt paid off, the better.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 2:00:00 PM  

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