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International Carriers Increasingly Keen to Court Smaller Airports

The trend for international expansion at small facilities across America is proving to be mutually attractive for both airports and carriers alike.

Good things come in small packages and this, it seems, also holds true for airports. In fact, for many carriers looking to expand their international services, smaller facilities have proven to be an increasingly attractive option.

Take, for example, Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport (BDL) and Rhode Island’s T.F. Green Airport (PVD). Last autumn saw Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus begin a European service from the former facility while the latter airport is currently in negotiations with budget carrier Norwegian for trans-Atlantic routes.

Kevin Dillon, executive director of PVD, spoke of his delight at the acquisition of the new route. “There are not a whole lot of airports this size that have trans-Atlantic service,” he told the New York Times.

Bjorn Kjos, chief executive of Norwegian, told the outlet that, “Smaller airports are the next coming thing.” Kjos’ statement is backed up by data from air travel intelligence group OAG. John Grant, a senior analyst with the body, said that congestion at larger facilities, the growth at low-cost carriers and a record boom in travelers has helped to turn the tide in favor of smaller airports.

“Many markets are already saturated in terms of frequency. There are only so many times you can fly into New York and London a day,” he explained.

The rise of single-aisle aircraft like the Boeing 737 MAX has also proved to be timely, especially for smaller sites unable to handle larger craft.

On the tarmac, many airlines also seem to like the lower landing fees and better fuel prices offered by these facilities. Equally, their passengers are kept happy by cheaper parking prices and more manageable immigration and security lines.

But despite these points, Brian Pearce, chief economist and director with the International Air Transport Association, reminds readers that when it comes to expansion, there has to be an impetus behind the growth.

“Most people don’t fly for the pleasure of flying. It’s to go on holiday or to do business. An airline has to think that people are going to fly between these two cities for a reason,” he said.

[Photo: Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport]

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2 Comments
R
rjburns January 14, 2017

The morons that run (ruin?) the airports in Washington don't seem to understand that $25 enplanement fees prevent new service and creates presssure on existing service. Dulles has 4 big runways, lots of room to expand, CBP facilities etc but they price themselves out of the market because their spending is out of control.

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TMOliver January 14, 2017

I realize that the "low fare' Transatlantic carrier must rely on "2 way" traffic, also dependent on pax originating in Europe to US destinations, but I'm convinced that their planning and marketing departments are "missing a bet" by failing to serve some potentially profitable airports in Middle America. Living with easy (for folks who live in "flyover country" driving range of IAH, HOU, DFW, DAL, AUS, etc., I'm convinced US travelers would flock to similar those and other convenient departure points for European travel.San Antonio seems to have plenty of available gates, plus the advantage of travelers originating in Mexico.