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Old October 21st, 2009, 04:18 PM   #321
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BWI gains altitude
Price war among three discount carriers has helped airport fly in the face of a nationwide air travel slump


Ronnie Turner-Winston, 38, of Champaign, Ill., uses the electronic check-in at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport for a flight aboard Southwest Airlines, one of three discount carriers at BWI that has been in a price war. (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy Davis / October 20, 2009)

By Andrea K. Walker | andrea.walker@baltsun.com

October 21, 2009

Kevin Crowley's job as a computer salesman for Hewlett-Packard requires a lot of travel, and lately his company is telling him to do it as cheaply as possibly.

So even though the Montgomery County resident could fly from any of three nearby airports, he usually bypasses Reagan National and Dulles in search of the cheapest fares.

"If I'm going to fly, it's normally going to be from BWI," Crowley said after checking in for a flight to Orlando this week. He said the airport is also easier to drive to than others in the region.

Despite a bad economy that has caused consumers to pull back on travel, Baltimore- Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in recent months has seen an increase in travelers such as Crowley, thanks to its discount air carriers.

The number of passengers using the airport increased year-over-year during four of the past six months - it was up by 6 percent in August - even as other airports in the region continued to suffer declines. By comparison, over the past six months, Reagan National, Dulles International and Philadelphia International did not record a single monthly increase in passengers.

Travelers are turning to BWI because it is generally cheaper than other airports in the area, those who follow the industry say. Discount carriers make up more than 63 percent of the market share at BWI, and the airport has the 15th-least expensive average airfare among the 100 largest U.S. airports, according to the most recent statistics by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Discount carrier Southwest Airlines has long been a dominant carrier at BWI, and AirTran Airways has recently added several flights and employees as it strives to make the airport a major stop in the mid-Atlantic. JetBlue Airways also began service at BWI this summer with flights to Boston, and may expand further depending on how its current flights perform.

The introduction of new flights set off a pricing war among the three discount carriers this summer, with flights as low as $9 at JetBlue - and that probably helped lure passengers to the airport.

"You've got three low-cost carriers and all three of those guys are fighting for front-door position," said Tom Parsons, CEO of Bestrates.com, which tracks airline rates across the country.

But BWI officials also cautioned that the travel market is still tough; they are waiting to see if the summer gains will be carried through the rest of the year. Overall passenger numbers for the 12 months ending in August still show a 3.3 percent decline, according to BWI statistics.

BWI has also taken several measures to keep costs down and raise revenue, including charging for the first half-hour of parking, cutting jobs, slashing the advertising budget and severely restricting employee travel.

"There is less travel, but people who are still traveling are looking for the best value," said Timothy Campbell, executive director of the Maryland Aviation Administration, which oversees the airport. "That is what BWI offers and what benefited us this summer."

Because discount carriers dominate BWI, they tend to dictate fares for the rest of the flights at the airport, said Henry Harteveldt, an analyst with Forrester Research, which tracks airlines.

He said that 47 percent of travelers say price dictates where they will take a personal trip.

"The airline industry is brutally competitive," Harteveldt said. "Very few airlines will knowingly allow a competitor to have a substantial price advantage."

He added, "No airport in the D.C. area is offering quite the same degree of low-fare competition as BWI."

Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees Reagan and Dulles, said those airports continue to perform better than the nation's airports as a whole, which saw a 6.1 percent decline in passengers in August. Dulles posted a 0.38 percent decline in August and Reagan a 0.81 percent decline.

"We think it shows the strength of the market," she said.

Hamilton said there was no way of tracking whether Dulles and Reagan were losing passengers to BWI. But Parsons of Bestrates.com said he believes they probably are.

"The good news for Baltimore is it's starting to cycle more traffic from Washington, D.C., and it's probably getting some from Pennsylvania and Delaware, too," Parsons said.

BWI also benefits because the Washington-Baltimore area is generally a strong market and the airport is easily accessible to highways, airline experts said. It also has a smaller percentage of international flights, which have been hit harder by the recession than domestic flights.

Reagan may be at more of a disadvantage because it has a high concentration of business travelers - a category that has seen a larger decline than leisure travel. That airport also has restrictions on the number of flights it can have because of regulations instituted in the 1960s to prevent congestion.

Travelers checking in for flights at BWI this week said they chose the airport for a number of reasons, including price and easy access.

Sean Murphy traveled to California from Baltimore for a funeral and compared airline prices at BWI and the airport in Harrisburg, Pa. He said he used BWI because the ticket was "significantly cheaper" - a $500 savings.

Ernie Thomas, who lives in Florida but has family in Prince George's County, said he always flies from BWI because Southwest generally has the cheapest flights when he flies. He also likes the recent upgrades at the airport.

"And I'm not driving all the way to Dulles in all that traffic," said Thomas, a retired trainer and teacher. "This is much more convenient."

http://www.baltimoresun.com/business...,2597232.story
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Old October 21st, 2009, 06:46 PM   #322
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Maybe, some international carriers will see this and decide to start operating there.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 04:46 AM   #323
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Southwest, Airtran, Jetblue

Once I think about it, I realized what a mistake Jetblue made. I know their flights are profitable, but I think the Baltimore-New York-JFK flight would have been a better market to get into. I mean, are people going to want to fly Jetblue, American, or Delta? With free tv and drinks and baggage, Jetblue. But, Southwest also offers this without the TV. I mean, 2 airlines already did the Baltimore-Boston flight: Airtran and Delta. Then, Delta got smart and realized they didn't want to compete with the two biggest discount airlines in the country. Then, Jetblue came along with Boston flights. It is ridiculous. I think they should do 2 Boston flights a day in the E190: One at 7:00am and another at 6:00pm. The should be 2 flights to New York. One A320 and one E190. This would be profitable. The remaining one slot Jetblue has at Baltimore should go to Long Beach. It should be in an A320. This would be good instead of having 21 nonstops to Boston every day. That means there is 42 flights a day dealing with Baltimore and Boston. It is absurd.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 07:38 AM   #324
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...not to mention SW's flights to Manchester, which basically serves the Boston market.

They need all those flights to shuttle Sox fans down here when they play at Camden Yards
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Old October 24th, 2009, 05:20 PM   #325
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It's true that there's far more low-cost competition to Boston and that jetBlue probably would've had better opportunities at JFK, but launching BOS-BWI flights really seemed like a defensive move that was made days after Southwest announced it was entering the BOS market. I guess it can be argued that Southwest entered LaGuardia this summer also, but either the difference in airport or the fact that jetBlue's JFK operations seem a lot safer than their operations at BOS probably made them less worried about JFK. With New York I suppose you're also competing with Amtrak to some extent as well. With all that said though, BWI-JFK flights on jetBlue are probably a real possibility at some point in the future. The route just wasn't what caused jetBlue to enter the BWI market initially.

With regard to "slots," BWI does not allocate slots to air carriers. Domestic airlines can add/remove flights without seeking government permission or buying/trading landing slots at BWI, as far as I know. I wasn't sure if that's what you meant by the word "slot" or not.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 07:01 PM   #326
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Itus View Post
It's true that there's far more low-cost competition to Boston and that jetBlue probably would've had better opportunities at JFK, but launching BOS-BWI flights really seemed like a defensive move that was made days after Southwest announced it was entering the BOS market. I guess it can be argued that Southwest entered LaGuardia this summer also, but either the difference in airport or the fact that jetBlue's JFK operations seem a lot safer than their operations at BOS probably made them less worried about JFK. With New York I suppose you're also competing with Amtrak to some extent as well. With all that said though, BWI-JFK flights on jetBlue are probably a real possibility at some point in the future. The route just wasn't what caused jetBlue to enter the BWI market initially.

With regard to "slots," BWI does not allocate slots to air carriers. Domestic airlines can add/remove flights without seeking government permission or buying/trading landing slots at BWI, as far as I know. I wasn't sure if that's what you meant by the word "slot" or not.
Thank you for the "slot" correction. I meant that since Jetblue is going to have 5 takeoff and 5 landing slots, they should be used on different routes. I just really want more international service.
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Old October 25th, 2009, 06:08 PM   #327
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Washington Area to Boston Area flights daily

I calculated all the non-stops from Baltimore, Reagan, and Dulles to Manchester, Providence and Boston. Here are my results:

18 Baltimore to Boston (Airtran, Jetblue, Southwest)
9 Baltimore to Providence (Southwest)
9 Baltimore to Manchester (Southwest)
11 Dulles to Boston (United, Jetblue)
4 Dulles to Providence (United)
3 Dulles to Manchester (United)
25 Reagan to Boston (Delta, US Airways)
2 Reagan to Providence
3 Reagan to Manchester
__________________________________________________________
Total: 84 non-stop flights from Washington Area to Boston Area (daily)

This is ridiculous.
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Old October 26th, 2009, 06:14 AM   #328
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That is pretty dumb. Spread them around. A few to Dallas. Few to Seattle. We really need NS to Charleston SC and Savannah GA.
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Old October 26th, 2009, 05:38 PM   #329
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k25150 View Post
That is pretty dumb. Spread them around. A few to Dallas. Few to Seattle. We really need NS to Charleston SC and Savannah GA.
I know. I don't understand why. This should work:
9 Baltimore to Boston (Airtran, Jetblue, Southwest)
3 Baltimore to Providence (Southwest)
2 Baltimore to Manchester (Southwest)
6 Dulles to Boston (Jetblue, United)
2 Dulles to Providence (United)
2 Dulles to Manchester (United)
12 Reagan to Boston (US Airways, Delta)
2 Reagan to Providence (US Airways)
2 Reagan to Manchester (US Airways)
____________________________________________________
Total: 40 Washington Area to Boston Area flights daily
The other 44 should go to the South (South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia)
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Old October 27th, 2009, 01:36 AM   #330
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Continental

Continental flight 227 and 1527 were both delayed over two hours today. There were two BWI-IAH flights operating at the same time: one 739 and one 738.
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Old October 27th, 2009, 02:24 AM   #331
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keagkid101 View Post
Continental flight 227 and 1527 were both delayed over two hours today. There were two BWI-IAH flights operating at the same time: one 739 and one 738.
looks like there was some fairly rough weather down in Houston today
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Old October 27th, 2009, 04:43 AM   #332
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Boston

When I calculated the Washington Area to Boston Area flights, I neglected to note that American Eagle has 5 non-stops to Boston from DCA, bringing the total non-stops to Boston Area from Washington Area to 89.
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Old October 27th, 2009, 07:47 AM   #333
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Well, the demand must be there, or there wouldn't be so many flights. I'm sure, though, that the load factor is probably a bit down now that some new flights have been added. Airlines are not in the business of flying empty planes, so if there is too much capacity, some of these flights will go away.
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Old October 27th, 2009, 04:00 PM   #334
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in the long term all of these flights likely won't stay. right now it's all a matter of pure competition between the carriers, and we probably should just sit back and enjoy the extra flights and lower prices while we can. Whoever can last the longest or capture the market wins, I suppose.

I probably wouldn't be saying the same thing though if a low fare carrier started to compete with BA to London. I'd definitely prefer that BA win in that case.
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Old October 27th, 2009, 09:56 PM   #335
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Itus View Post
in the long term all of these flights likely won't stay. right now it's all a matter of pure competition between the carriers, and we probably should just sit back and enjoy the extra flights and lower prices while we can. Whoever can last the longest or capture the market wins, I suppose.

I probably wouldn't be saying the same thing though if a low fare carrier started to compete with BA to London. I'd definitely prefer that BA win in that case.
With 89 Boston Area flights, I checked the seatmaps on the airlines' websites for DCA-BOS, and Delta flights are nearly empty as well as American. US Airway's A319s are less than half empty. Its ridiculous. I do presume the Baltimore-Boston flights are doing well.

I want Delta to start INTL service in Baltimore! Service to Amsterdam or Frankfurt would be great.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 03:44 AM   #336
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US AIRWAYS

It looks like US Airways stopped 757 service from Baltimore to Charlotte.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 08:01 PM   #337
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United Heavy

Today, United ran a 747-400 from Baltimore to Chicago. I don't believe the route was open to passengers, but still, a 747 at BWI!
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Old October 29th, 2009, 12:15 AM   #338
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Originally Posted by keagkid101 View Post
Today, United ran a 747-400 from Baltimore to Chicago. I don't believe the route was open to passengers, but still, a 747 at BWI!
for real? where did it fly in from? where did it park? I hope we can get pictures the next few times it happens.

I have seen a fair number of pictures of diverted flights at BWI as well, including a Lufthansa 747-400, Air France A340, and a Virgin Atlantic A340, among several others. We've had military charters operated by Northwest 747-200s as far as I can recall also.

from myaviation.net
image hosted on flickr

image hosted on flickr

image hosted on flickr

image hosted on flickr

image hosted on flickr

image hosted on flickr
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Old October 29th, 2009, 02:36 AM   #339
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United

The United Airlines flight 9983 flew from Baltimore to Chicago at 2:35 am. I do not know where it came from ,nor where it parked. Alls I know is what FlightAware.com provided.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/UAL9983
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Old October 29th, 2009, 03:42 PM   #340
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Man we need some international flights. Changes the whole dynamic and image of the airport. The pictures even do that.
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