AirTran wins DCA slots for FLL, PBI, RSW service

DCAview

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Aug 21, 2002
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The Transportation Department on Wednesday granted AirTran four slots at Washington Reagan National Airport, authorizing the airline to serve DCA with nonstop flights to the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach or Fort Myers.
Corporate Airlines won the remaining two slots for turboprop service to the North Carolina cities of Wilmington, Fayetteville or Jacksonville. The six slots became available when Spirit and Midway airlines abandoned them after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Release is online at http://www.dot.gov/affairs/dot00703.htm
 

dfw79

Senior
Aug 20, 2002
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What a waste. If anything...Great Plains was the airline that should have received these slots. They would have provided a service that doesn't even exist yet....however it seems that the rich get richer and the rest continue to get left behind.
 

airplt

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Sep 12, 2002
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www.usaviation.com
The slots are not only for routes that are not served but also for routes where there is no competition. AirTran got screwed the last time the DOT awarded slots.
 

dfw79

Senior
Aug 20, 2002
308
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Airplt - your post makes no sense.

The routes aren't served - by AirTran. There is no competition on the routes?

DCA-FLL: US Airways 3x Day & Delta Conn. 1x Day
DCA-PBI: US Airways 3x Day & Delta Conn. 2x Day
DCA-RSW: US Airways 1x Day

So let's see...were these routes really needed by AirTran? No. They have BWI - unless Southwest is getting to be too much for them? The only real route that needs competition is RSW...since AirTran will only be able to add 2 flights out of DCA - is this really worth it?

The slots should have went to Great Plains to provide the ONLY nonstop service from the State of Oklahoma to the nation's capital.
 

ac500

Member
Aug 20, 2002
47
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[blockquote]
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On 1/22/2003 7:29:39 PM dfw79 wrote:

What a waste. If anything...Great Plains was the airline that should have received these slots. They would have provided a service that doesn't even exist yet....however it seems that the rich get richer and the rest continue to get left behind.
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[/blockquote]
dfw79,
I guess we all know where you stand on the tax cuts too...
2.gif']
 

DLFlyer31

Senior
Aug 20, 2002
444
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Isn't it going to be kind of expensive for FL to open up a station in DCA for just two flights a day...especially for flights to Florida which are not the greatest yielding?

I know FRNT has their one flight a day and they borrow space from CO. I wonder how much they pay for it?
 

whlinder

Veteran
Aug 20, 2002
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IAD
www.playandmusic.com
Does Air Tran love IAD anymore? Back in the ValuJoke days they had quite an operation, but now it looks like IAD is 3rd tier to BWI and DCA (since they have been begging for DCA slots for quite a while). With UA in such a perilous position and Metrojet gone from IAD I'm surprised there isn't more interest in expanding here.
 

DLFlyer31

Senior
Aug 20, 2002
444
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Last minute walk-up fares for DCA-FLL are only averaging $350, while advanced purchase fares for DCA-FLL are around $210. If you move out to IAD/BWI, fares drop even more to $150 for advanced purchase. Mind you we are in high season for S. Florida, yields are often lower in the summer months.

Those yields are ok, but nothing great.
 

MAH4546

Veteran
Aug 22, 2002
1,457
1,004
[blockquote]
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On 1/23/2003 7:45:23 AM DLFlyer31 wrote:

Isn't it going to be kind of expensive for FL to open up a station in DCA for just two flights a day...especially for flights to Florida which are not the greatest yielding?

I know FRNT has their one flight a day and they borrow space from CO. I wonder how much they pay for it?
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[/blockquote]

South Florida-Washington, D.C. is not low-yielding. This is a huge market (WAS is the 2nd biggest O&D market from S. Florida outside of Florida), and low-fare service to DCA, the perferred airport, will be much welcomed.
 

funguy2

Veteran
Aug 20, 2002
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I have to agree that Great Plains' proposed service to TUL/OKC would seem to be more in-line with the legislation. But does Great Plains have enough airplanes after their AUS announcement? And can the 328JET go that far, or would it require a new aircraft type. Maybe that is the reason they were overlooked - not able to start up service immidiately?

Makes me think that maybe Great Plains' new AUS service was aimed at getting DCA approval from an administration practically based in Texas!
 

dfw79

Senior
Aug 20, 2002
308
0
[blockquote]
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On 1/23/2003 10:21:47 AM MAH4546 wrote:

[blockquote]
----------------
On 1/23/2003 7:45:23 AM DLFlyer31 wrote:

Isn't it going to be kind of expensive for FL to open up a station in DCA for just two flights a day...especially for flights to Florida which are not the greatest yielding?

I know FRNT has their one flight a day and they borrow space from CO. I wonder how much they pay for it?
----------------
[/blockquote]

South Florida-Washington, D.C. is not low-yielding. This is a huge market (WAS is the 2nd biggest O&D market from S. Florida outside of Florida), and low-fare service to DCA, the perferred airport, will be much welcomed.

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Various Florida destinations are usually always in the top 10 O/D destinations from any city. However, 500 pax/day paying a whole $70-90 one way (or whatever the AirTran fare will be) won't make as much money as a 100-200 pax/day paying $150-300 one way from other markets that were up for the slots.

Unless AirTran is able to secure other slots - these 2 whopping flights a day will eventually go away. They won't justify having to staff the station unless more flights can be started or slots switched over to ATL.
 

dfw79

Senior
Aug 20, 2002
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Great Plains has 4 more (6 total) 328s going into service over the next couple weeks. There is expected to be an announcement shortly for 8 CRJ-200s and 4 CRJ-700s that will (supposedly) be used for new services to IAD (since DCA was unsuccessful) in March - but then they may try to stretch the 328 for the route.
 

Cart Pusher

Advanced
Aug 20, 2002
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Great Plains situation is precarious at best. They've recently been denied government backing for loans, they've been claiming that a deal for new airplanes is just around the corner for quite a while, their current route system is a bit of a joke. While they may be a decent airline, flying nice planes and offering a decent product, financially speaking they are in no position to purchase new planes for service to DCA from OKC or TUL. Perhaps the government realized this and did not choose them for this reason.

As for AirTran - they don't have to have staff at DCA at all - they can simply contract the service to another airline as Alaska and Frontier do. Midway used to do the same thing. It's not that much of a problem for them to start the new service they are anticipating. Whether or not it's a service that is necessarily needed is another story. I personally don't believe that offering another option to FL from the D.C. area was in the best interest of the traveling public. There are plenty of low fare options from nearby airports and the fares from DCA are not very high currently.
 

dfw79

Senior
Aug 20, 2002
308
0
[blockquote]
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On 1/23/2003 7:31:04 PM Cart Pusher wrote:

Great Plains situation is precarious at best. They've recently been denied government backing for loans, they've been claiming that a deal for new airplanes is just around the corner for quite a while, their current route system is a bit of a joke. While they may be a decent airline, flying nice planes and offering a decent product, financially speaking they are in no position to purchase new planes for service to DCA from OKC or TUL. Perhaps the government realized this and did not choose them for this reason.

As for AirTran - they don't have to have staff at DCA at all - they can simply contract the service to another airline as Alaska and Frontier do. Midway used to do the same thing. It's not that much of a problem for them to start the new service they are anticipating. Whether or not it's a service that is necessarily needed is another story. I personally don't believe that offering another option to FL from the D.C. area was in the best interest of the traveling public. There are plenty of low fare options from nearby airports and the fares from DCA are not very high currently.
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[/blockquote]

Your post just shows completely lack of knowledge on Great Plains. The loan was rejected many moons ago. They have financial backing from the State of Oklahoma, City of Tulsa, and Bank of Oklahoma - along with many many other private sector companies. They are also the primary source of product support and maintenance for all the Dornier 328 Jet and Prop in the United States. This alone is improving their bottom line.

I don't understand the statement about their route structure being a joke. They are all serving a local demand that has always existed but usually took Southwest via Dallas Love. Who would have thought that there would be a traffic demand between Dallas and Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland, etc. Great Plains is nothing more than a smaller version of Southwest - but with full inflight service. Another question also has to be asked about your comment about their ability to pick up more planes - when they have another 4 328s coming online. If they were doing that bad, I don't think they would be adding more planes.
 

sfb

Veteran
Aug 21, 2002
771
1
www.usaviation.com
The 328JET does not have the range (with a full passenger load) for the 1050-mile flight from TUL to DCA, let alone the 1158-mile flight from OKC to DCA. The numbers I've seen give max range at roughly 1000 miles. Moreover, given the relatively slow cruise speed (for an RJ) of the 328JET at approximately 450 mph, the flights to DCA would be at least three-and-a-half to four hours (including a fuel stop) -- not terribly appealing on a smaller plane. And not much faster than connecting at CVG, STL, or ORD.

While Great Plains has more 328JETs coming online, they're not suitable aircraft for TUL/OKC-DCA operations given the range issue. And while the company may claim that CRJ's are coming online "soon," the fact is that it would be tough for them to start service in a timely manner (one of DOT's requirements) without the equipment on the property. Spirit lost its DCA slots because it had not restarted service after September 11. Awarding the slots to AirTran for Florida, as well as to Corporate for NC, also maintains some of the purpose of the original slot awards to Spirit for service to Florida and Midway for service to RDU (in NC). Moreover, fares to DC from OKC and TUL are already quite competitive -- comparable to MCI and ORD, and considerably lower than from IAH or DFW.

Do a quick market analysis: OKC-DCA is 1158 miles with an average one-way fare of $200 and 87 passengers each way per day (DOT's 2Q02 figures); this is an average yield of 17.3 cents/mile. ACA (which operates 328JETs and CRJ's, along with J32's and J41's) recently posted a CASM of 15.8 cents. Assuming Great Plains' costs are similar (ignoring the fact that ACA doesn't serve food), and assuming they can get the same yield, they'd need to run a 91% load factor on those flights to simply break even.
 

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