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Old April 14th, 2019, 08:37 PM   #2601
knope2001
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I've gotten way behind in posting stuff on how traffic has been going, but at least these recent posts have kicked me into gear.

Traffic is indeed down year over year and there are two main things going on.

1. 2017/2018 Florida/Arizona bubble make for a bad year-over-year comparision
In the 4th quarter of 2017 both Allegiant and Frontier began or expanded significant Florida and Arizona flying. During last year's peak season our total capacity to Florida and Arizona jumped about 25% from the prior peak season. No big surprise that some of that bubble did not survive to this season. And that affects the YOY traffic comparision.


Last year's boom:
Change in enplanements from 2016/17 season to 2017/18 season in MKE traffic to FL and AZ
+16% Oct
+27% Nov
+39% Dec
+29% Jan

This year's adjustment:
Change in enplanements from 2017/18 season to 2018/19 season in MKE traffic to FL and AZ
-14% Oct
-3% Nov
-4% Dec
-19% Jan

So a lot of our flat and declining year-over-year numbers comes from last year's FL/AZ bubble. If you look to how FL/AZ are doing this year compared to prior to last year's bubble our total FL/AZ traffic is still up 16% Oct-Jan. So it appears we did get a durable traffic increase in those markets even if the year-over-year number is hurt by the excess of that bubble.



2. Severe weather, especially Southwest's response

Every winter has weather cancellations but this year's brutal cold shut down some airlines for days, and Southwest (our biggest carrier by a solid margin) was especially decisive in cancelling from the cold. Here are January numbers for 2018 and 2019 comparing what was

January Cancellation Rate for Southwest MKE scheduled departures
1.7% 2018
9.8% 2019

January Cancellation Rate for all other airlines at MKE scheduled departures
2.4% 2018
5.7% 2019

The high cancellation rate in January was a gut punch to traffic, and being a Southwest-heavy airport did not help us. Some traffic affected by cancellations moves to other flights, but quite a bit is simply lost. People miss weddings, funerals and other events. Meetings get cancelled, people rent cars and drive.

Once we get past last winter/spring's bubble to FL/AZ we won't have that challenging YOY comparison. But there are other clouds on the horizon primarily with Southwest and the 738 MAX. We've seen some cancellations as Southwest has reworked their schedule to handle the grounding and we may have some onngoing headwinds. In general at MKE there isn't an obvious uptick in capacity like a significant new airline or route, and broadly the incremental upticks in one place seem offset by incremental trims in another place. So at this point I would guess 2019 will be fairly flat, but there's a bunch of year still to go.
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Old April 14th, 2019, 11:03 PM   #2602
MKEEASTSIDER
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Milwaukee
Posts: 398
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
I've gotten way behind in posting stuff on how traffic has been going, but at least these recent posts have kicked me into gear.

Traffic is indeed down year over year and there are two main things going on.

1. 2017/2018 Florida/Arizona bubble make for a bad year-over-year comparision
In the 4th quarter of 2017 both Allegiant and Frontier began or expanded significant Florida and Arizona flying. During last year's peak season our total capacity to Florida and Arizona jumped about 25% from the prior peak season. No big surprise that some of that bubble did not survive to this season. And that affects the YOY traffic comparision.


Last year's boom:
Change in enplanements from 2016/17 season to 2017/18 season in MKE traffic to FL and AZ
+16% Oct
+27% Nov
+39% Dec
+29% Jan

This year's adjustment:
Change in enplanements from 2017/18 season to 2018/19 season in MKE traffic to FL and AZ
-14% Oct
-3% Nov
-4% Dec
-19% Jan

So a lot of our flat and declining year-over-year numbers comes from last year's FL/AZ bubble. If you look to how FL/AZ are doing this year compared to prior to last year's bubble our total FL/AZ traffic is still up 16% Oct-Jan. So it appears we did get a durable traffic increase in those markets even if the year-over-year number is hurt by the excess of that bubble.



2. Severe weather, especially Southwest's response

Every winter has weather cancellations but this year's brutal cold shut down some airlines for days, and Southwest (our biggest carrier by a solid margin) was especially decisive in cancelling from the cold. Here are January numbers for 2018 and 2019 comparing what was

January Cancellation Rate for Southwest MKE scheduled departures
1.7% 2018
9.8% 2019

January Cancellation Rate for all other airlines at MKE scheduled departures
2.4% 2018
5.7% 2019

The high cancellation rate in January was a gut punch to traffic, and being a Southwest-heavy airport did not help us. Some traffic affected by cancellations moves to other flights, but quite a bit is simply lost. People miss weddings, funerals and other events. Meetings get cancelled, people rent cars and drive.

Once we get past last winter/spring's bubble to FL/AZ we won't have that challenging YOY comparison. But there are other clouds on the horizon primarily with Southwest and the 738 MAX. We've seen some cancellations as Southwest has reworked their schedule to handle the grounding and we may have some onngoing headwinds. In general at MKE there isn't an obvious uptick in capacity like a significant new airline or route, and broadly the incremental upticks in one place seem offset by incremental trims in another place. So at this point I would guess 2019 will be fairly flat, but there's a bunch of year still to go.
Thanks for the write-up! Did your research into Southwest show whether we've been impacted by any 737 Max related frequency trims or did our schedule/frequencies remain unchanged with their announcement last week?
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Old April 15th, 2019, 03:29 PM   #2603
knope2001
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 429
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKEEASTSIDER View Post
Thanks for the write-up! Did your research into Southwest show whether we've been impacted by any 737 Max related frequency trims or did our schedule/frequencies remain unchanged with their announcement last week?


The only notable frequency thing I see so far (which may or may not be a new cut from the 738 MAX issue) is year-over-year we have fewer flights to Vegas per week, generally 3x per day. Last summer it appears we sometimes had a fourth flight. I'm not positive if that's new or if I just missed the YOY change when the original schedule came out. Beyond that the only changes of note are that we have fewer 175-seat aircraft than originally planned, which of course is no surprise. Southwest has apparently rolled out quite a few frequency cuts to the peak summer schedule in the past several days so if this is our only impact that's good news.


The bad news, however, is that there were already some year-over-year reductions when the schedule was originally rolled out. So without MAX there would have been some YOY reduction. Last summer Southwest ran a daily flight each to San Diego and Seattle, while this summer SAN is only once per week and SEA is gone completely. There is also one fewer Boston flight and one fewer Orlando flight this summer compared to last summer. On the flipside we have gained a second Texas flight compared to last year. But as it stands now (including the 738 MAX cuts) Southwest seats will be down about 9% this summer versus last summer. That's a significant cutback. I have not looked at any other cities because it's a lot of work, but the Indianapolis guy on airliners.net (MidwestIndy) says they will be down over 15% from last summer. So at least misery loves company, I guess.


What may soften our Southwest blow just a little bit is that many of our year-over-year cuts were in markets with weaker loads last summer. Last summer the second Boston flight was scheduled exceptionally late -- off the top of my head it was something like leaving MKE at 9:55pm and arriving Boston at 1:40am. That trip did very poorly and overall MKE-BOS was not much better than half full last summer, which is absolutely awful for summer. Orlando only ran about 3/4 full last summer which is pretty weak for the summer peak vacation season, too. And with both Alaska and Delta flying mainline aircraft nonstop each day to their Seattle hubs, Southwest's MKE-SEA flights did okay load-wise but not great, and with them not flying to SEA this summer Alaska and Delta will pick up some of that slack and likely do better overall (passengers and yield). So some of the capacity we're losing this summer will not necessarily mean an equal drop in passengers. But it is likely this summer Southwest will have fewer passengers year-over-year, and with that it will be hard for the airport in general to not see flat or decreased overall numbers this summer.
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Last edited by knope2001; April 15th, 2019 at 06:23 PM.
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Old April 19th, 2019, 03:06 PM   #2604
tysgs
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Join Date: Feb 2017
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Delta's MKE-ATL flights are switching to all B737-900ER and B737-800 in September

Maybe some slight increases YOY to DTW and MSP as well
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