Phoenix airport just hanging on to top 10 ranking; expanding Southwest and US Airways share 80% of flights

Montreal’s Mayor Gérald Tremblay expresses his joy at the new weekend/seasonal Air Canada service which had brought him to Phoenix last November. Tremblay is flanked by PHX airport director Danny Murphy (left) and Mayor of Phoenix, Phil Gordon. PHX traffic was up 4.5% in the first four months of 2010, but still below the levels of demand in 2007-08.

Last year Phoenix Sky Harbor ranked as the busiest airport in Arizona, and 10th busiest in the US down one place from 2009, and in danger of being replaced in the top 10 in 2011 by fast-growing Charlotte. Passenger numbers were up 1.9% to 38.55 million, making it the airport’s sixth busiest year ever. The airport’s busiest year ever (so far) was in 2007 when traffic peaked at just over 42 million. Since 1951 annual traffic has fallen just five times; first in 1980 and then in 1992, 2001, 2008 and 2009.

Source: Phoenix Sky Harbor airport

Source: Phoenix Sky Harbor airport

So far in the first four months 2011 passenger numbers are up 4.5% compared with 2010, but still below the levels of demand in 2007 and 2008. Traffic peaks in March with a late-summer dip in September.

Source: Phoenix Sky Harbor airport

Source: Phoenix Sky Harbor airport

Southwest and US Airways share over 80% of flights and capacity

Two airlines, Southwest and US Airways, share over 80% of the airport’s flights and weekly seat capacity. US Airways acquired a major presence at the airport after the merger with America West in 2006/07 and now operates non-stop to over 70 destinations from the airport including nine to Mexico, three to Canada and one to Costa Rica.

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Routes
US Airways 49.3% 46.2% 75
Southwest 32.5% 35.4% 50
Delta 5.3% 6.1% 8
American Airlines 3.1% 3.1% 4
United Airlines 3.0% 2.5% 5
Continental 1.9% 2.3% 3
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 June 2011

Other airlines operating domestic routes from the airport are AirTran, Alaska Airlines, Frontier, Great Lakes, Hawaiian and JetBlue. AeroMexico flies daily to Hermosillo, while Air Canada flies daily to Toronto and WestJet links the city it to its Calgary base with year-round daily flights. In winter WestJet also offers low-frequency seasonal services from a number of other Canadian destinations such as Edmonton and Vancouver.

The airport’s only long-haul route is an almost daily service to London Heathrow operated by British Airways. The service began from Gatwick back in 1996 before being moved to Heathrow in 2002. Since 1999 annual passenger numbers have been between 150,000 and 200,000 with an average of 167,000. Last year demand for the route fell by 8.6% from 171,024 to 156,275. (Source: UK CAA)


Formula 1 turkey. While Phoenix hosted the United States Grand Prix for three years between 1989-91, it wasn’t the hit the city’s tourist chiefs had hoped for, attracting an estimated 15,000 to line the downtown street circuit each time. In contrast the annual Ostrich Festival in nearby Chandler, now in its 23rd year, regularly draws crowds in excess of 75,000. It just goes to prove that local is best. (Please don’t write to – we read this in The Prescott Courier.)

Southwest adds six new services in last year; battle for Boston and Los Angeles

Since last June Southwest has added six new destinations to its Phoenix network; Boise, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Newark and Spokane. jetBlue also started flying daily to Boston, thereby giving customers a choice of three carriers as US Airways is also operating the route.

Despite Southwest, United and US Airways all serving the Los Angeles market with around 150 departures per week between them, both American and Delta earlier this year launched four-times daily flights on the route, presumably to help provide feed for their long-haul services from the Californian airport.

Fares rising but still below the national average

According to US Bureau of Transportation Statistics average annual domestic air fares have grown faster at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport during the last decade than at any of the other top 10 airports (ranked by US originating O&D passengers). In 2000 Q4 the average domestic itinerary fare was $269 at Phoenix and in the corresponding quarter 10 years later it had risen by 20% to $323. However, this was still the third lowest (behind Denver and Atlanta) of any airport in the top 10 and 4% below the national average of $337. While average domestic fares across the US rose by 5.1% between 2009 Q4 and 2010 Q4, average domestic fares at Phoenix increased by 12.7%.


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