What defines an underserved airport?
It depends on who you are.
From the government’s perspective it’s an airport where there are significant travel needs in the area that are unmet, yet the financial return from serving these needs isn’t necessary for an airline to invest in additional service without assistance. Therefore they determine the airport qualifies for an EAS (Essential Air Service) or SCASD (Small Community Air Service Development) grant/subsidy.
From a major airline’s perspective it’s an airport that doesn’t have enough service to meet its needs. Most airlines have very advanced financial models that estimate how much demand is in a given market and how well the existing service to that airport is meeting that demand. If they determine that there is a gap in the service and that the financial returns from opening that route are less than the costs of opening and serving it, they will likely open the route (assuming the have sufficient capacity to do so).
From a Low Cost Carrier’s perspective, they look at what they call “fare premiums” which is fares above and beyond what they would charge that the existing carriers serving the airport are charging. These airlines identify routes with high fare premiums then estimate the effect that their entry into the market and subsequent reduction in fares by both airlines would result in, keeping in mind that they would be adding lots of capacity to that route and the fact that the existing carriers on the route would likely retaliate.
Anyone else see the USAToday airticle about the E.A.S. routes? Also, Big Sky is ending East Coast operations on Jan 7. Thay just took over some routes less than a year ago! Here are the links:
Some of Big Sky’s Delta Connection routes aren’t EAS. The EAS routes are:
CVG to Cape Girardeau, Owensboro, and Jackson (TN)
BOS to Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, and Watertown
It’s unclear what will happen to these routes. The three CVG routes were taken over from RegionsAir which also went bankrupt (and operated them to STL)
Maybe some of these could get picked up by Continental/Commutair to serve them through CLE. Service to some of these cities may just end up coming to an end as the demand simply isn’t there and there are alternative airports with comprehensive services within reasonable distance. For example, Watertown is only an hour from SYR, Massena is an hour and a half to YUL or YOW, Plattsburgh is an hour to BTV, Jackson, TN is an hour and a half to MEM, and Owensboro is less than an hour from EVV.
Underserved Airport - Any airport, convient to you, that does not have non-stop service to any destination that you want to go to at the time you want to leave.