|(Just in case you wondered where these cities are.)|
The US Midwest, as defined by the US Census Bureau consists of 12 states – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The total population of these states is estimated at around 66 million and the largest urban areas are Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis and Cleveland. This is reflected in the traffic statistics for the region’s airports.
|More AirTran shareholders’ cash lavished on a route launch party: Tad Hutcheson, vice president of sales and marketing, announces its landing in the Columbus, Ohio.|
|Source: Airport websites|
The 12 busiest airports in the Midwest handled almost 250 million passengers in 2007 with Chicago’s two major airports (O’Hare and Midway) handling over 95 million alone.
|Source: Airport websites * Data for September ** Data for July|
The region has been hit hard by the current economic slump and latest figures (mostly for November) reveal that traffic is down at least 15% at eight of the top 12 airports with Cincinnati (the most expensive airport in the US for passengers) suffering most with demand falling over 25%.
Detroit’s position is misleading as the airport is the only major US airport not to publish traffic statistics on its website. Judging by local news reports in Detroit the airport seems to have some problems keeping track of its passenger numbers.
The annual North American International Auto Show taking place this week in Detroit comes at a difficult time for America’s big three manufacturers (Chrysler, Ford and GM), all of which are based in the area. In December all three saw car sales in the US fall by more than 30%.
Delta/Northwest present at all 12 major airports
Only Delta/Northwest has a presence at all 12 of the major Midwest airports. Delta is dominant at Cincinnati while Northwest is in pole position in both Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) and Detroit. Southwest has a presence at eight of the 12 airports and will be starting operations from MSP in March with eight daily flights to Chicago Midway.
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 January 2009|
Unusually for the region over 60% of Milwaukee’s traffic comes from airlines that are not the major legacy carriers or Southwest. Milwaukee is still dominated by Midwest Airlines (in which Northwest has a minority stake) and AirTran who between them offer over half of all seat capacity at the airport.
Southwest keeps fares down at its airports
In terms of average fares (adjusted for average sector length) Southwest’s 80% share of Midway capacity helps make it the cheapest airport for passengers. Southwest’s significant presence at Columbus, Kansas and Omaha results in these airports also having below average fare levels.
|Source: US DOT Office of Aviation Analysis|
Cincinnati remains in a class of its own when it comes to high fares but Southwest’s arrival at MSP may bring average fares at that airport more in line with the national average. Even though Southwest is starting with only one service (to Chicago Midway) this is enough to enable it to offer one-stop connections to over 40 other destinations on its network.