Loading…
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
HomeHome
Published: 6/25/2008

Toledo Express Airport 1 of 150 airports said vulnerable

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Express Airport is among 150 airports nationwide that a travel-advocacy organization considers endangered by an "oil-fueled catastrophe" in the airline industry, according to a report to be issued today.

But the value of that report is debatable. Its findings did not take into account major cuts that have already been announced for that airport.

The Business Travel Coalition, based in Radnor, Pa., said in the report that "fast-approaching airline liquidations" threaten to devastate a domestic economy "that depends on affordable, frequent, intercity air transportation."

Not only would business travelers be affected by reduced service and higher fares, the report said, but cross-country transport of belly cargo such as perishables, high-value consumer goods, legal documents, and mail also would be compromised if fewer passenger planes take to the skies.

An addendum to the report lists airports the group says are "most likely impacted by fuel costs" - a list that includes Toledo Express Airport and many similarly sized airports, including those in Dayton and Akron, and Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, and Traverse City, Mich.

Among the criteria the Business Travel Coalition said it used to identify the at-risk airports are their proximity to other airports, especially those with low-fare carriers; potential service consolidation from the proposed merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines; a high percentage of leisure travelers, who generally pay lower fares than business travelers. and heavy dependence on fuel-inefficient aircraft such as regional jets.

Toledo Express fits, to varying degrees, all of those criteria. But the group did not rank the 150 airports' vulnerability, and Kevin Mitchell, its founder and chairman, said he had done no airport-specific analyses of potential future cuts.

"There's no doubt that some of it has already happened," Mr. Mitchell said. "But the cuts that the airlines have announced for this fall only account for about 14 percent of their capacity, and with oil at $130 a barrel the cuts are going to have to be over 20 percent."

And if oil prices rise even higher, as some analysts have predicted, airlines will have to cut even deeper, he said.

Since 2004, Toledo Express already has lost more than half of its daily departures, and that decline will reach two-thirds on Sept. 3 when Continental Airlines pulls its three daily Continental Connection flights between Toledo and Cleveland.

Two of Toledo's remaining carriers are commuter affiliates of Delta and Northwest, which fly three daily departures to Cincinnati and five to Detroit, respectively.

Four daily American Eagle flights to Chicago and less-than-daily Allegiant Air service to Sanford and St. Petersburg, Fla., round out the current Toledo flight schedule. Only the Allegiant flights use full-sized jets, while the other carriers operate a mix of regional jets and turbo-props.

"We really don't know" if any more service cuts are in Toledo Express's future, Carla Firestone, a Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority spokesman, said. "We're hoping this is the end of it."

But the Business Travel Coalition's report demonstrates that the Toledo airport's plight is hardly unique:

"It's everybody," Ms. Firestone said.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.



Poll