Another View: Let's show the airlines that Manchester can support more flights
Great news! Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) is welcoming three new flights this spring. These new flights are not just the usual "seasonal adjustments for the summer" (those flights are coming too), these are three actual NEW flights. In March, Delta added a fourth daily roundtrip flight to New York-LaGuardia, and in April US Airways will add a fourth daily roundtrip flight to Washington National and a second daily roundtrip flight to their largest hub in Charlotte, N.C.
In this environment of economic uncertainty, high fuel prices and airline industry consolidations, regional airports like Manchester need to work even harder to "sell" their business case to airlines when aggressively pursuing larger aircraft, additional flights and new destinations. There are 439 commercial service airports across the country and almost every one of them is actively vying for dwindling airline/aircraft resources. Airlines are constantly evaluating the many routes they serve, eliminating their least profitable flights and reassigning those aircraft to new markets.
In New England, increasing low cost carrier (LCC) competition at Boston's Logan International Airport (BOS) has created additional challenges for MHT and T.F. Green Airport (PVD) in Providence, R.I. As a region, New England is smaller than several U.S. states, and a well-established interstate highway network makes all three Boston-area airports viable for air traveler consideration. Although Manchester is more convenient, more friendly and often more affordable, New Hampshire air travelers do have a choice when they need to travel for business or leisure.
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is an important economic engine for New Hampshire. It creates jobs, facilitates commerce and provides access to the global marketplace. The airport contributes approximately $1 billion each year to the state's economy in the form of annual payroll, local taxes and out-of-state-passenger expenditures.
We are very excited about our new flights, and we are encouraged that hard work and perseverance are starting to pay dividends. We've been working for quite a while with Delta, US Airways, Southwest, United and others (YES, jetBlue!) trying to recapture seat capacity lost during the past few years.
I truly believe that New Hampshire has been presented with a real opportunity to show the airlines that this state not only wants more flights, but that it can support more flights. In 2012, MHT had the highest load factor (percentage of aircraft seats filled) in the region (88 percent), and we are committed to help make these new flights, as well as our other existing flights, successful. We are keeping our costs to airlines affordable (lower than BOS and PVD), maintaining our facilities and infrastructure to ensure safe and efficient operations, and marketing the airport to air travelers across the region and beyond. We are hopeful that all of New Hampshire's citizens will join us in supporting these new flights.
We understand that travel decisions are often complex and don't always fall our way. Sometimes flight schedules or airfare specials on an airline not operating at MHT encourage the use of another airport; we get it. However, as your airport, we ask that you consider Manchester, and research flight opportunities out of Manchester before making your air travel decision.
We have approximately 50 daily departures to 16 nonstop destinations, with convenient one-stop connections to the world. Developing and maintaining strong demand (filling seats) motivates the airlines to add more flights, bring in larger aircraft, and begin service to new destinations. I am confident that if you plan ahead and have a little flexibility, you will find a flight out of MHT that meets your needs. As always, we appreciate your business.
Let's show the airlines that New Hampshire deserves these new flights. Fly MHT!
Mark Brewer is director of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.