6.8.08

EXCESS CAPACITY IN AIRPORTS. Earlier in the week, I had some fears for continued air service to South Bend.
But whether a cash-strapped Delta operating out of a congested Atlanta will continue to allocate expensive fuel and scarce landing slots to puddle-jumpers to Studebaker country remains to be seen.
I should have looked closer to home, where an often-lonely Rockford airport will be lonelier still.
The Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) announced today that Southern Skyways will discontinue their Denver service. The last flight will be on Monday, August 18, 2008. All customers currently booked on Southern Skyway flights associated with RFD scheduled for departure after August 18th will receive a cancellation notice from the airline along with a full refund for any and all unused tickets booked. Every flight between today's notice, including the August 18th flight and all "Day Trips," will be flown as scheduled.
Rockford officialdom continues to deny the obvious.

RFD Board Chairman Mike Dunn said that the Airport Authority firmly believes that RFD is an economic engine and instrument towards enhancing the quality of life for Winnebago County residents. “Along the way, we collectively discovered a niche market opportunity called "Day Tripping," whereby 131 people could fly non-stop, hassle-free to highly-desired destinations such as: Niagara Falls, Mackinac Island, and NASCAR races like the Brickyard 400 for a fun filled, full day of activities, said Dunn.

“This is not the end, as some might speculate”, said [executive director Mike] O’Brien. “The airline industry is undergoing a paradigm shift and it must. Business as usual isn't an acceptable solution to $5.00 per gallon jet fuel. Instead, this is a time out - at worse - all very necessary for purposes of assessing how best to advance the RFD cause going forward,” he continued.

I must do some history, for instance, whether the property taxes on the Illinois Central and Burlington passenger stations added up to the operating deficits of the Rockford airport during the 1960s, a formula that I know is accurate for some Great Northern stations in North Dakota. The conceit that every mid-sized city must have regular air service, let alone an "international" airport, never made much sense. That the Winnipeg Limited and the Land O' Corn and the Capital 400 had to be sacrificed to that conceit might not have made any sense either.

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