When it comes to launching new service at smaller airports revenue guarantees to airlines are a key factor. The US Department of Transportation offers Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) grants to help airports cover the costs of those guarantees. And with another round of applications released this week we can see which markets are compelling to airports and airlines.
Breeze at Bentonville
Breeze Airways is perhaps the most surprising entrant in the field. The upstart carrier expects to launch service in the coming weeks and hinted at coastal destinations in the Southeastern United States for its first three bases. But a filing by Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) in Bentonville, Arkansas suggests that Breeze could soon set up shop, assuming the grant comes through.
Breeze Airways is interested in serving a number of unserved routes from XNA… While we cannot guarantee Breeze will initiate new service should XNA receive SCASD funding in the form of a revenue guarantee, it would greatly enhance the probability of new service.– Breeze Letter of Support for funding
The airport asks for $250,000 in cash funding from the DOT as part of a $1.5 million package to attract Breeze service. XNA would spend up to $100,000 in advertising for the airline as part of the service launch. The proposal also includes landing fee and airport rent waivers based on an estimated 16 weekly flights as part of the total package.
United at Akron, Binghamton, Daytona Beach, Duluth
Akron, Ohio (CAK) and Binghamton, NY (BGM) are also applying for SCASDP grants to attract United Airlines regional operations to their airports. The Akron service seeks $850,000 from the DOT as part of a $1.1 million revenue guarantee program to bring back service to Houston Intercontinental airport.
At Binghamton a $1 million DOT SCASDP grant would be part of a $2.2 million package to have SkyWest operate on United’s behalf to Washington-Dulles.
Another $1 million sought by Daytona Beach International Airport could be used to provide minimum revenue guarantees on United-operated flights to Dulles or Chicago-O’Hare.
Duluth, MN wants $750,000 to bring Denver service online. The airport is targeting non-stop service from United Airlines for the route.
Bellingham – Denver: United or otherwise
The Bellingham, WA (BLI) market suffered greatly in the COVID-19 era, with the US-Canada border closure cutting off half the airport’s normal passenger base. Moreover, it has been a decade since the airport offered eastbound service rather than coastal or Hawaii connections and now the local authorities are seeing $750,000 from the SCASDP program to help launch service to Denver. Interestingly, the airport does not have a letter of support from an airline. The proposal focuses on United Airlines as the most desired carrier. But the airport makes clear it would accept service from either Southwest or Frontier as well.
Des Moines to the West!
Des Moines, IA (DSM) seeks a $750,000 grant to add westbound service. Its application comes with letters of support from both United Airlines (potential LAX or SFO flights) and Alaska Airlines (SEA flights).
American at Appleton
Appleton, Wisconsin (ATW) wants funds to build on the success of a previous SCASDP program, this time adding American Airlines service to Dallas-Ft Worth. The airport seeks $750,000 to guarantee revenue minimums.
Baton Rouge to DC
Baton Rouge, LA (BTR) feels a bit left out, noting in its application that it is the only Southern state capital without nonstop service to the Washington, DC area. The local airport authority wants $1 million to help it secure service from United/IAD, American/DCA, or Southwest/BWI. It is unclear that <40 PDEWs would support the market, even with the revenue guarantees, but it makes sense to have someone else fund that experiment if they can.
Allegiant to St. Louis*
MidAmerica St. Louis Airport (BLV) in Mascoutah, IL seeks $490,000 to attract more Allegiant service, including a crew base. The airport targets 7 specific airports and notes that it has weathered the pandemic stronger than nearby STL, hoping to ride that into further strong demand.
Bringing JetBlue back to Worcester
JetBlue had a nice little operation at Worcester (ORH) before the pandemic, but it was among the first stations to be cut when demand dropped. Now the local airport authority is looking for $500,000 in federal grant funds to bring back flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
Can Lakeland add commercial flights??
Nearly all of the applications submitted involve increasing service options at an airport. In Lakeland, Florida, however, the goal is to establish new service. The local authority is seeking $750,000 to inaugurate operations with a target of American Airlines flights from Charlotte.
Lakeland is famous for its annual Sun-n-Fun general aviation event but its position just 31 miles from Tampa and 53 miles from Orlando make it challenging for most airlines to justify adding service.
Other applications submitted
Brunswick, GA (BQK) wants more service from Delta Air Lines and hopes $176,000 in federal funding can help deliver that.
Laughlin, AZ (IFP) seeks $750k to guarantee service to Phoenix or Denver, with onward connections; a prior grant was unsuccessful in securing the service.
University of Illinois – Willard Airport (CMI) wants American Airlines to use some of its precious DCA slots to connect to Central Illinois. It hopes that $850,000 in federal grants will prove compelling.
Yeager Airport (CRW) is seeking a $500,000 SCASD Grant to support air service, targeting New York City. The airport specifically calls out a desire for ULCC service, hoping to induce demand with lower fares. The current ~18 PDEWs would not support the service but prior ULCCs were able to dramatically increase demand as travel costs dropped.
College Station, TX (CLL) wants $400,000 but does not plan to use the funds for revenue guarantees to secure Delta service to Atlanta. Instead it aims to drive demand through marketing efforts and have the airline show up as a result.
Helena, MT is seeking $1 million for American Airlines service to Phoenix.
Great Falls, MT is seeking $800,000 for American Airlines service to DFW.
Hilton Head, SC wants $250,000 to fund marketing for its existing services.
Harlingen, TX wants $1 million for American Airlines service to Chicago – O’Hare.
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