April Airport Committee Meeting Review
Today the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority Airport Committee met for its (typically) monthly meeting. There was a lot covered in the meeting in respect to passenger traffic, cargo operations, and also military operations. The meeting included a lot of positives and also some items to raise awareness before they become concerns.
Good news arrived on the passenger front. The airport reported a net increase in passenger traffic over March of 2012. The gain was driven by Allegiant which set a record month at Toledo. The airline’s passenger numbers increase 43.9% over 2012 with a 48.6% increase in capacity. There were 12,644 passengers on Allegiant in March which resulted in a strong load factor of almost 92%.
American reported pretty consistent figures of just over 6100 passengers for a load factor over 62%. This was a decrease of 9.2% in passengers compared to March 2012, but it is noted that capacity has also been reduced as well in comparison which drove lower passenger numbers somewhat.
We learned last week of this news, but have been waiting for additional details to be revealed. We have confirmation now that Northern Air Cargo has indeed started to base aircraft at Toledo Express. They utilize Boeing 737 freighters both -200 and -300 series. Toledo is now a crew base for them and they are being managed by a former BAX Global employee. Right now the service is ad hoc/on demand charters with nothing scheduled. There is the possibility that additional aircraft will be based at Toledo. The airline formerly operated for BAX Global before that company ceased air operations in the United States. The port negotiated competitive landing fees and also waived all ramp fees. NAC is currently using the ramp at the BX Solutions facility which was formerly used by BAX Global.
The airline project a budget shortfall for the year of $378,000 but is actually running $100,000 better than expected and is only forecast at $278,000 loss now. This improvement was due to increased passengers numbers. Changes are coming to allow for earlier passenger check ins and allow for higher concession spending. For the month the airport posted a profit of $18,000. Concession services were expected to be break even to slightly profitable for the first quarter.
Air Service Update
The airport has successfully reduce the local costs for American by 50% to further improve the financial situation for that carrier locally. Allegiant Air successfully launched new service Punta Gorda, FL with twice weekly service. Meetings were held in February with both carriers with the new marketing lead Elizabeth Cecconi, whom formerly held a similar position with Akron-Canton during their rapid growth. Meetings have also been held with companies throughout Northwest Ohio to evaluate travel data and formulate plans with airlines.
One notable mention was the work being done to prepare corporate travel data to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and also to Mexico for American Airlines. No additional details were provided on the reasoning behind this. Dallas was included in the list of alternative destinations for the SCASD grant that was originally intended for Denver service via Frontier.
Air Service Promotions
While specifics are not finalized, the TLCPA is working to put together promotions for Toledo travelers. Some ideas being passed around include 10% off coupons for American or Admiral Club passes. Introduction of a Tiered program for corporate customers int the Thanks Again program. Bonus AAdvantage frequent flyer miles for Toledo travelers. A lot of these efforts are being managed by Thanks Again and details being worked out with American’s sales. In addition, coupons for a day of free parking is also being discussed.
Additional support is also growing within the City of Toledo and local Chambers of Commerce.
Future of advertising will also get a boost with American and Allegiant Air. Ads will be targeted on Detroit area travel sites, search engine optimization with better targeting of ads, and other enhancements.
Ticket giveaways are going to be returning as well on both Allegiant and American. Events will be held roughly once a month coming up. More details will be released soon.
Concerns about an upcoming BRAC phase will be handled through an agreement with Cassidy and Associates. They will be handling market studies of the impact of the Air National Guard base at Toledo Express. The importance of this is to start early and be prepared and not play catch up while other cities have already stated their case.
Airport Facility and Other Updates
The terminal HVAC system will be replaced soon. The system has been ordered and replaced before summer. The JEDD also had a small update that meetings are ongoing with tenants but that no implementation date is set yet.
Runway 7/25 will be getting resurfaced this year. The east end will be under construction from May 14th until July 3rd. The west end will then be tackled from July 4th through August 12th. Finally the middle portion, which will require the runway to be closed, will be done between August 14th and September 20th. Air service impacts will be minimal as Allegiant is on a seasonal suspension during that time, the 180th will be relocated to Wright-Patt AFB during the period, and American is able to use Runway 16/34.
The hangar for Sierra West Airlines is almost complete. Upgrades have been ongoing for their new Toledo base and will be finished in the next couple of weeks. Additional updates include LED lighting for the parking lot, taxiway and runway lights.