Saturday, November 25, 2017
Business

Cutbacks in flights, passenger seats challenge TIA, other Florida airports

RECOMMENDED READING


If airline flights are shrinking nationally, those in Florida are (pardon the phrase) on a crash diet.

Airline mergers, belt tightening and a recession that cut demand for air travel combined to contract the number of airline departures at U.S. airports by 14 percent between 2007 and 2012. The number of passenger seats offered also fell nationwide by slightly less, says a study made public Wednesday by MIT's International Center for Air Transportation.

But at most Florida airports, airline departures fell much further, typically shrinking by a quarter to a third between 2007 — near the start of the recession — and 2012, when an improving economy still struggled for solid footing. Declines in the number of passenger seats at Florida airports also dropped, but to a lesser extent.

The MIT study found Tampa International Airport saw its annual number of airline departures fall a daunting 24 percent in those six years, dropping to 74,351 from 98,212. Also, TIA's passenger seats — a key secondary measure as airlines change plane sizes — declined 18 percent in the same period to just over 10 million from 12.2 million. The recent merger of Southwest and AirTran, and the pending deal to combine US Airways and American Airlines are also leading to flight consolidations. In 2007, 13 airlines served TIA. Last year, it was 11.

TIA generates revenues from passengers and airlines, so these cuts in volume help explain the airport's ongoing mantra to find new airlines, new direct flight destinations and more passengers to funnel through the metro area.

That's why it was good news to see this week's tour of TIA's new Airside F. The $27 million renovation, aimed at international visitors, doubles the space for more security checkpoints, immigration facilities and baggage carousals.

Hardest hit by losing at least a third of departure flights among the regional Florida airports were Sarasota-Bradenton and Tallahassee, the state capital where poor air connections are legendary. On the flip side, Miami International was Florida's only airport to add both departure volume and passenger seats during the six-year period studied by MIT.

A Tampa Bay Times sampling of nine Florida airports, ranging in size from Orlando to St. Petersburg, found that the volume of departures in the Sunshine State dropped an average of 17 percent while passenger seats fell 11.5 percent from 2007 to 2012.

The MIT study of U.S. airports found that large hub airports, such as Atlanta, Chicago and New York, suffered only an average 9 percent drop in the number of departures. Medium hubs, once empowered by Southwest Airlines' expansion and its desire to find alternatives to bigger (and more expensive) airports, nationally experienced a 26 percent decline in departures. And small-hub airports sustained an overall 18 percent drop.

The bottom line is that while the number of airline flights is down at most U.S. airports, mid-sized and smaller airports took the brunt of the cutbacks. That, the MIT experts say, will make it tougher and more expensive to fly to and between smaller metro areas and could escalate an incentives war by small airports eager to maintain some modest level of airline service.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Black Friday still a brick-and-mortar experience for some

Black Friday still a brick-and-mortar experience for some

TAMPA ó Standing in a frantic line at Best Buy on Thanksgiving, one young woman beat the system when she showed off the receipt for her new TV, which she had just purchased on her phone. She was waiting to pick it up."I didnít know you could do that,...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Woman, 51, robbed in Tyrone Square Mall parking lot, police say

ST. PETERSBURG ó A woman was robbed after a man followed her to her car in a mall parking lot Thursday night and shot once at her, police said. The 51-year-old woman, whose identity St. Petersburg police are withholding, was not injured. She was walk...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Take steps against holiday fraud with private WiFi, fraud alerts

Take steps against holiday fraud with private WiFi, fraud alerts

The holiday shopping season bring hosts of discounts and deals, but it also brings something less cheery ó fraud. According to a forecast by ACI Worldwide, a payment processing company, retailers are expected to see a 30 percent jump in fraud this ye...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Fourth Streetís mom and pop motels are a dying breed

Fourth Streetís mom and pop motels are a dying breed

ST. PETERSBURG ó Billboards as far north as Tennessee beckoned tourists by the thousands to St. Petersburgís Fourth Street calling it "the longest motel street in the world" in the 1940s and í50s. There were 95 motels between the Gandy Bridge and Cen...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Suburban-bound millennials and other 2018 housing trends to watch

Suburban-bound millennials and other 2018 housing trends to watch

Whatís ahead for real estate in 2018? Zillow economists put their heads together and offered up a laundry list of forecasts and predictions. The chief one to remember? Inventory shortages of homes for sale which challenged the market in 2017 will pe...
Published: 11/24/17
Across country, small retailers aim for emotional ties big chains may lack

Across country, small retailers aim for emotional ties big chains may lack

Associated PressSome smaller retailers will tug at shoppersí heartstrings during the holidays, trying to create an emotional experience or connection that a big national chain might not provide.Store owners are going well beyond the usual holiday dec...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Inkwood Books among retailers banking on ‘Small Business Saturday’

Inkwood Books among retailers banking on ‘Small Business Saturday’

TAMPA — By Tuesday evening, at least 50 cardboard boxes were still stacked against the shop’s wall, each labeled clearly with a black sharpie. "Biographies" "Pets" "Fiction" "Music" While the front of the store and new children’...
Updated: 10 hours ago
As Tampa Bay economy matures, more key people bear watching. Letís get started.

As Tampa Bay economy matures, more key people bear watching. Letís get started.

Whatís coming down the economic pike for Tampa Bay? Whoís driving this metro economy into 2018 and beyond? Change ó people, issues, business focus ó can be a good thing. It keeps places like geographically challenged Tampa Bay nimble with fresh blood...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17
Six years and counting: Allegiant Air reaches agreement with flight attendants

Six years and counting: Allegiant Air reaches agreement with flight attendants

ST. PETERSBURG ó After six years of negotiations, Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air and its flight attendants union reached a tentative contract to improve worker pay and benefits and solidify airline policies."We feel like itís an agreement that is cert...
Published: 11/22/17
Workers at luxury St. Pete condo tower say they are owed thousands

Workers at luxury St. Pete condo tower say they are owed thousands

ST. PETERSBURG ó Nearly three dozen workers at ONE St. Petersburg, a luxury condo tower under construction in the heart of downtown, havenít been paid in weeks and are owed thousands of dollars.With the holidays nearing, some of the men say they are ...
Published: 11/22/17