Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
PITTSTON TWP. — For the second time in 11 years, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport is the recipient of a federal grant to entice airlines to offer new destinations or to increase the number of flights to current destinations.
The $575,000 federal Small Community Air Service Development grant will be used to encourage airlines to add flights to business and leisure destinations that are among the most requested by passengers.
Airport Director Barry J. Centini said that on the leisure side, he will look to add Myrtle Beach, S.C., Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as destinations. For business travelers, Pittsburgh and Washington are the targets.
Those destinations seem to be the ones many customers request or wind up taking connecting flights to get to when they embark from the local airport. He said the funds also could be used to entice airlines already operating out of Avoca to add additional flights to current destinations such as Atlanta.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is something to be said for speaking in one voice.
Key promoters of the city and region certainly think so, having all agreed to adopt a new marketing tagline – PHL: Here for the Making.
In the coming days, you can expect to see it in ads and promotions by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Select Greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. and Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association.
The goal, according to Jack Ferguson, president of PHLCVB, is to leverage the marketing clout of those groups by adopting a single, focused slogan that will resonate with es, conventions and travelers who might be interested in coming here.
“They’re a startup looking for opportunities around the country. Like we talk to a lot of others, we talk to them,” said Bradley D. Penrod, president and chief strategy officer for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates Pittsburgh International.
Mr. Penrod characterized the dealings with City Link as “an early discussion. They’ve approached us and they’ve given us a presentation,” he said.
The application was filed this week with the FAA’s Small Community Air Service Development Grant program.
The grant would be used toward a nearly $1.2 million initiative that includes enticing airlines to add flights to leisure and business destinations not currently offered out of Northeastern Pennsylvania including Tampa, Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington and Las Vegas, said Barry J. Centini, the airport’s director.
Money would be used to help subsidize the airlines, could go toward landing fees and other offers making flying in to and out of the area more attractive, Centini said. Additional money would be used to amplify marketing efforts for those airlines and existing airlines.
The airline industry took a decisive step toward greater concentration on Thursday with the announcement that American Airlines and US Airways had agreed to merge, forming the nation’s biggest airline. The merged airline, to be called American, leaves just three major carriers — Delta Air Lines and United Airlines too — able to offer extensive domestic and international service, a sharp contraction over the last decade.
But while airline executives argue that mergers are good for passengers because they bring more service to more destinations, some economists and consumer advocates warn that all this consolidation comes at a price for travelers.
With fewer carriers, passengers have fewer options; fares and fees are now more likely to go up, particularly for flights between midsize cities. And more cities, especially smaller ones, can expect to see further reductions in service.
“It’s much easier to have tacit collusion with just three airlines,” said George Hoffer, a transportation economist at the University of Richmond. “It’s not illegal. But it’s like having a few big people in a small boat. Anyone’s decisions tie you all together.”
Harrisburg International Airport (HIA) is doing well and traffic is up. With the price of fuel, many airlines are looking at the cost-effectiveness of their 50 passenger regional jet fleets. With todays fuel prices it has become more cost-effective to fly larger planes. Fortunately, HIA is equipped to handle larger planes.
There are 1.8 million people within an hour of HIA which makes this a sizable market. Because of this, many carriers flying into the HIA will simply start using larger planes.
Delta has seen at 50 percent increase in traffic on their DFW to HIA route due to the Marcellus Shale gas industry. Harrisburg is the hub of Pennsylvania’s state government and home to large companies like Hershey, which use air travel for business.
Airport officials are stating American Airlines bankruptcy filing will not impact travelers flying out of HIA. What American Airlines decides to do with its regional airlines will determine what the future holds for HIA, not the bankruptcy filing.
Smaller market airport like State College and Venango Regional will most likely be under scrutiny by airlines as they decide whether flying from these locations remains cost-effective. Can these smaller markets generate enough passengers to fill 70 – 100 seat planes? Time will tell.