Small US airports not as doomed as feared

Image: Ghost Town
The number of US airports with just one scheduled route currently stands at 160. An examination of the airports served by these single routes reveals that five of the top 12 airports are in Alaska, including Juneau International Airport. The airport is to undergo a $10 million renovation.

Much has been made in recent months of how the decision by US airlines to cut many routes due to rising fuel prices could spell the end of air services for certain communities. Using OAG schedule data for August and November, anna.aero has examined the more than 600 US airports with scheduled services to see what impact the so-far revealed schedule changes have had.

Surprisingly, maybe the number of US airports with scheduled services actually increases between now and November from 628 to 631. At each airport the number of route ‘choices’ was analysed. This counts the number of destinations served but also takes into account if there is more than one carrier operating the same route. Thus a route served by three airlines would count as three ‘choices’.

Chart: Distribution of US airports by number of choices offered
Source: OAG data for w/c 4 August 2008 and 3 November 2008

While the total number of airports with services remains virtually unchanged the amount of ‘choice’ at airports is clearly declining. Currently, there are 27 US airports with over 100 choices but this falls to 24 by November. Across all the airports the number of choices falls by 9.1% from 9,579 to 8,706. Total available seat capacity falls by just over 10% in the same period.

Image: Juneau International Airport and the planned $10 million renovation

The number of US airports with just one scheduled route currently stands at 160. An examination of the airports served by these single routes reveals that five of the top 12 airports are in Alaska. Fairbanks, Kodiak, King Salmon, Juneau and Ketchikan are each connected to at least four airports for whom these are the only scheduled flights. Most of these are operated by aircraft with less than 10 seats.

The other receivers of solitary services are major hubs led by Denver (12 routes), Atlanta (nine), Minneapolis/St Paul and Salt Lake City (six each), Boston and Houston (five each) and Los Angeles (four routes).

Delta operates most capacity on ‘solitary’ routes

Image: Great Lakes Airline Landing
Analysis of the ‘solitary’ routes shows that Great Lakes Aviation operates the highest number – 21. 11 of these are connections to Denver, which is the US airport with the most ‘solitary’ routes.

Examining all the ‘solitary’ routes across the 160 airports reveals that Delta and Northwest have the highest capacity on these routes though Great Lakes Aviation operates the highest number of such routes, 21. Of these, 11 are connections to Denver which helps explain why Denver has the most ‘solitary’ routes of any US airport.

Airline Total flights Total seats Routes
Delta 291 12,526 15
Northwest 244 10,383 12
Great Lakes Aviation 387 8,299 21
United 209 6,725 9
US Airways 171 5,865 6
Continental 148 5,733 5
American 88 3,312 3
Alaska Airlines 52 2,116 4
Allegiant Air 10 1,500 3
New England Airlines 164 1,476 2
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 August 2008

Other smaller airlines which operate many ‘solitary’ routes include Penair (13 such routes) and Island Air Service (with 12 routes) both of which are based in Alaska.

By December over 30 US airports will have lost services in the last year

While the number of US airports with scheduled services remains relatively stable in the coming months, the number of airports with just a single route will increase from 160 to 173 (based on current data). According to analysis by OAG, which has compared schedule data from December 2007 with that currently filed for December 2008, 32 US airports will no longer have scheduled flights.

These 32 airports are spread across 17 US states with six in Alaska, five in Montana, four in Arkansas and three in Arizona.


New route? New airline? Email us! Let’s all celebrate your new routes. Contact us with photos and route details, and follow us on Instagram for our exclusive daily digest.

Comments

Comments are closed