Monday, December 02, 2013

Let's Raise Rates at the Airport!


A Morning Call report that the Lehigh Valley "International" Airport intends to raise rates has Lehigh University Professor Steve Thode scratching his head. He's prepared the graph you see above, showing a declining passenger count, and makes this point.

Let's see if I have this right:

Passenger traffic at LVIA will drop 16-17% this year after dropping almost 20% last year;

Passenger traffic is off more than 40% since 2004;

Half the airlines serving LVIA have left. Even when there were 8 carriers, LVIA was operating well below capacity; and,

One of LVIA's fastest growing "routes" is the bus to Newark.

So, here's their great idea: since we have half as many tenants for our building, let's raise the rent on our (few) remaining tenants!

But Doctor Thode, at least Board Chair Tony Iannelli and Exec Director Chuck Everett are still paying their staff with no planned layoffs.

Perhaps they should read a little about the demise of Beth Steel, Mack Trucks, Lucent, and any of a number of other LV powerhouses now gone.

You don't pay people to do nothing.

... unless they work for the government.

Then you pay them a lot and hope they do nothing.

Updated 11:10 AM: The United Bus is Airborne!

This comes right from the LNAA webpage.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Other than being a cheerleader for local businesses Iannelli and his overstaffed and overpaid chamber have little real business sense.

It is amazing that many of the smaller businesses still pay dues to this group.

Anonymous said...


LVIA is the poster child for mismanagement. didn't I just read they were raising the fees to the carriers and instituting a 40 million capital program after they just finished some renovations and took away the shuttle.

Anonymous said...

At what point does the current board look at each other and admit, "We tried but income keeps dropping. Let's resign."

Anonymous said...

These board members should be accountable to SOMEONE for their poor decisions. Would that be county council/commissioners who approved their appointments? Can members of boards or authorities be "recalled"?

Anonymous said...

We need a few capitalist, and former business owners on that board. This sounds like the no nothing government. Let the small amount of people still (working) using the airport pay more. Taxes if it were the government. What the heck??? I like that airport but it is not being run like the business that it is. I will use it less and less also. And yes in government a few at the top, so to speak get good salaries maybe even raises but do little for it. Ever see what the top government jobs in broke Chicago go for? When will people get it? The government screws us and there is no where to go. At least with private industry a few get screwed but yet maybe had the choice to get out before that happens. Then again I guess for some it is a way to get screwed if that's all you have going for you. So grow the government at your expense and unfortunately mine.

Bernie O'Hare said...

What's going to happen is we're going to end up subsidizing this monument to the ego of the LV Partnership.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bert Daday, for example, has to go. The guy is 180 years old, for Christ sake. He has to phone in during Winter months bc he is in Florida. Yet he was just reappointed by Northampton County Council. That is insane. Time to get rid of all board members who do not have 99. % attendance.

Anonymous said...

If you believe an appointment is to not be made, stand up and say something during the Personnel committee meetings and maybe an appointment will be NOT recommended to the rest of council.

When an Executive submits the appointments they are supposed to be vetted by his staff. Council gets the recommendations and the Resumes' of the people, but rarely get any "back story" as to why they should not be re-appointed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, one of my many shortcomings is that I rarely pay attention to appointments. Had I noticed that Bert Daday was being reappointed, I would definitely have spoken out. He is part of the entrenched board there that seems to have no idea what is going on. I would think various members of Council, who have been making the same complaints as I, would have noticed this guy's name. I don't know how it slipped by and I don't know why the appointment was made.

This is by no means the first name that has troubled me as an appointment, but I usually don't speak out. Perhaps that is a mistake.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago I worked as the "pilot" for that "flight" from ABE to NWK and back again. Only 3-4 people most of the time, who were more than surprised to be getting on a bus. Lousy job that paid only $2 above minimum wage. I quit after 2 weeks after being yelled at over the radio for frequent late arrivals - as if I had control over frequent traffic jams.

Most might be surprised that this bus actually "flies" under FAA rules. Federal offenses for passengers that interfere with the flight and all other unlawful acts associated with a plane.

Anonymous said...

I reluctant to be overly critical of our airport. So much about air travel has changed beyond the control of ANY local Board.

What could our local board do about fewer airlines flying, more expensive fuel, extra charges for things that used to be free, greater use of larger hubs, fear of terrorism, invasive and time-consuming security lines ,poor consumer economy, loss of professional jobs, growth of internet meetings to replace face-to-face contacts, more families choosing to stay local for vacations, etc.

I agree, there likely are deadwood board members that need to go, but really, what exactly would a younger, more active board do to fix the above?

Fred Windish

Doc Rock said...

Fred,

They could start by acknowledging that the airport is a critical engine of economic development and growth.

For way too long, the board has failed to engage the business community in an effort to generate more air travel from the business sector.

As long as the airport keeps chasing thinly-capitalized carriers with cheap flights to vacation destinations, the airport's potential as a powerful engine of growth remains untapped.

Anonymous said...

Having driven by ABE this AM on my way to PHL to save $400, this is ridiculous. Also, business travelers aren't flying if they don't have to. Video and voice conferences have replaced much of it. Flying is costly and time wasting for trips of 400 miles or fewer. Have you seen prices lately? The airport's day is long past. Those in charge now are just looting what's left. Shameful.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Fred look at the airport in White Plains, which is much like our own, a small airport in the shadow of much larger ones. Its passenger rate was at one time lower than ABE. It now far exceeds it. So yes, there are things that could be done.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

I suppose something can be done, I just don't know what!

I suspect the White Plains region has a much higher per capita income than the Lehigh Valley. It is also much better connected to ultra high paying jobs in New York City by public transportation, primarily trains. With this, I expect White Plains to have a better shot at discretionary airline travel than does LVIA.

Anonymous said...

Just a little more. I did a quick check on the White Plains region. That includes Greenwich, CT area 10 miles away, Stamford, etc. The per capita income is about double what it is here.

I suppose we could extrapolate this to mean, for residents there, tickets from White Plains cost HALF of what they do for our locals using LVIA.


Fred Windish


Anonymous said...

Having driven by ABE this AM on my way to PHL to save $400, this is ridiculous.

You aren't the only one. I will pay a neighbor or friend to drive me to and pick me up from either Philly or Newark. The $100 I give them is far cheaper than paying the LVIA ticket prices for the short hops I need to catch a cross-country flight from the major airports.

LVIA raises prices to both us and the airlines to use that airport. There are no new prospects for carriers and they continue to lose customers on both ends.

Anonymous said...

White Plains and ABE are completely different business markets. People with more money fly more. Median incomes around White Plains are about 40% higher than around ABE. From U.S. Travel Association:

"Traveling households earn more than non-traveling households. In 2012, the median household income for domestic leisure travelers was $62,500. For business travelers, the median household income was $87,500. This compares to $52,800 for the general U.S. population"

Bernie O'Hare said...

There are differences, but there are also similarities. They are no means identical, but it answers Fred's concern that declining passenger rates are happening at these smaller airports.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I will pay a neighbor or friend to drive me to and pick me up from either Philly or Newark. The $100 I give them is far cheaper "

I'll do it for $90.

Anonymous said...

Do what United Airlines does. Offers service from ABE which is a bus ride to Newark and connections on a flight there. The airport property will make a great regional bus terminal.

Anonymous said...

What's the big deal. They're just following the "progressive" model that says if you raise prices, it's great for the economy.

Some swear up and down that's how an increase in the minimum wage (an increase in the price of labor) will work.

The LVIA board is just trying to "circulate" more money.

LV Bear said...

Tony Ianelli is eating all the profits and he looks fabulous. If I were in Mongomery County, I'd elope with Tony to Phoenixville. Flintstone-era passengers had to use their feet for acceleration at take off. Stop complaining about the winged bus to EWR.

Philip Meguire said...

The main purpose of the ABE Airport Board and of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is easy lifetime jobs for its employees.

Convince Southwest Airlines to start Baltimore - Syracuse NY service, with a stop in Allentown. Baltimore is an awesome Southwest hub, and has good ground transportation to DC.

Running a bus from the Lehigh Valley to the Philly airport is easy now that I476 is complete.
A bus from ABE to Newark should also work.

This passenger airplane works well here in New Zealand.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_Dash_8

It carries 50-80 passengers, is very cheap to operate, takes of and lands on a dime, cruises at 400mph, and over 1000 have been sold. The only other plane that has any business landing at ABE is the 737 operated by Southwest.

40-50 years ago, the bread and butter of ABE was United and USAir flying to Pittsburgh, at that time a huge hub. Has that changed?

Southwest Employee said...

@ Philip

Southwest took a look at ABE as a stop after they merged with Airtran in 2011, but it was a brief look.

ABE fees to airlines are too high, which is why they passed.

Anonymous said...

News flash from LVIA, (better known as ABE Airport since there are no international direct flights from there).
Tony Iannelli and the incompetent board of directors in an attempt to keep the airport competitive will distribute tin cans with 20,000 feet of string to each passenger for communications. When asked what if the flight is longer than the string? Iannelli replied, "I really don't know but it sounds like a good idea to build customer confidence in LVIA. This idea will be one of the greatest along with the LVIA information booth we set up in the Lehigh Valley Mall. LVIA is trying everything to build passenger usage. We raised the charges to the carriers that use the airport resulting in higher fares. We expanded the airport even though ridership is down 40 percent since 2004. We eliminated the free shuttle bus from the parking lot so passengers carry their bags in the snow and rain. " Iannelli continued, "So what's a little string, it's not a major investment"

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that the entire move from ABE regional to LVIA the future was from the minds of the shadow Partnership and the Lehigh Valley's former Big Eight. Their cheerleader at that time on the change to an expensive airport with a fancy new name, Bert Dady. Even senile and in Florida, he is still on the Board.

It is time the county people, especially the executives stop just accepting and passing on these names.

Anonymous said...

Tony Iannelli, Board Chair at LVIA had a new idea for Black Friday to improve ridership at the Airport . You get half price long term parking if you park in a newly acquired lot run by LVIA. The only trouble with his idea is the new lot is in Hellertown and they don't have a shuttle bus because of budget constraints, so you have to drag your bags 13 miles to the Airport.