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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, November 14, 2013

LVIA Passenger Count Down 40% From Peak Years

While the Lehigh and Northampton Airport authority contemplates the sale of Braden Airpark to pay off a judgment incurred as a result of their own mismanagement, they appear to be ignoring the recurring revenue that would result from attracting more passengers at the main airport. You know, the one on Airport Road.

Dr. Steve Thode has prepared the above chart, which depicts LVIA passenger counts over the past several years. He tells me traffic is off more than 17% from last year (the worst year in 25 years), and off more than 30% from 2011. 2013 total year traffic is likely to come in around 600,000 passengers - a drop of more than 40% since its peak in the early 2000s.

Year-over-year traffic has now declined for 19 consecutive months. This is coincident, by the way, with the arrival of AvPORTS (now departed) and Charles Everett (still Exec Director).


Anonymous said...

Yet another local cluster fuck, if you'll excuse the expression.

Anonymous said...

The LVIA is dying a slow death. Lack of professional and board leadership with real airport management skills. Too bad for the Lehigh Valley area. That airport had such promise. Amazing how these politicos on the Board think they know what they are doing when they really don't and its obvious. Would be nice if they ate some crow and asked Doughty and Krauter to come back and turn the place around!!

michael molovinsky said...

this topic has been on my to post about listfor quite a while, looking forward to the comments here

Anonymous said...

The political ego driven clowns on the LVIA board have destroyed the airport. Sad......Why does the mcall continue to cover for this group?

Anonymous said...

I'm doing my part and spent the extra money to fly out of this airport three times this year. I probably spend an extra 100 bucks each time but I like the convenence of not having to drive to philly or Newark

Anonymous said...

Daugherty is the reason this airport is a mess, his complete arrogance on the land deal and his holier than though approach has caused the financial woes due to an avoidable lawsuit. Why was this not paid off years ago instead of fighting it. They made a complete mess and then they ride off into the sunset like they are heroes to the ill informed readers of the morning call.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 7:02 AM. Unless we can save about $300 between the two of us, we stay away from the PHL and EWR experience. There's nothing like arriving back home to ABE to a mostly empty, stress free airport. Obviously, this will all change if ABE finds the success it once had!

I really can't evaluate it's management, but there are so many other factors involved to consider why traffic is down. For one, less business travel occurs as digital meetings can now be held.

Also, air travel is simply not as comfortable and fun as it once was. Invasive security, packed planes, passengers nickel and dimed for everything, not enough overhead space, aging equipment, fewer route choices. etc. Finally, in this economy, there's less vacation money to spend on distance travel.

Consumers are funny. Unless you provide them something they can't get anywhere else, you can't attract their attention. I firmly believe LVIA needs to become something TRULY unique.

I suggested FREE airport parking, but was told that revenue was much too important. Can you imagine how many flyers would choose LVIA if they were the only airport within 100 miles without charge for parking?

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Why would I use LVIA when they don't fly anywhere useful for business travelers?

And yes, they should dump that other airport.

Anonymous said...

The LVIA is dying a slow death. Lack of professional and board leadership with real airport management skills.

How did board leadership cause airlines to stop flying anywhere that is convenient for residents? Chicago is about it.

Anonymous said...

I'm doing my part and spent the extra money to fly out of this airport three times this year. I probably spend an extra 100 bucks each time but I like the convenence of not having to drive to philly or Newark

I like it too but I don't do connecting flights so the drive is worth it. Direct only please.

Anonymous said...

I actually got a cheaper flight to Detroit from ABE rather than EWR this past month.

The convenience of being at the airport in 15 minutes, followed by a leisurely stroll thru TSA was just incredible. Better yet was coming home, literally in my kitchen 20 minutes after wheels touched down. You can't beat that.

I wish they were more competitive and offered more alternatives for mid week business travel. Too much focus on bargain basement tourist flights to back water Florida airports.

Unfortunately with United (EWR) and US Air (PHL) hubs so close the prices for flights to their other main hubs in Chicago and Charlotte are always going to be lower.

Anonymous said...

8:35 - Great points!

Parking - While maybe not free, a reduction in price wouldn't be the worst thing to do. I know its next to the terminal, but spent much more on parking recently than I do at off site parking in EWR.

Anonymous said...

I fly a lot, and rarely fly out of ABE, due to a couple of reasons:

1. Cost. Anon 841am is right, occasionally you can get deals. But the vast majority of the time I'm saving $250 or more by driving to PHL, EWR or even Atlantic City (yep, AC has a great airport with plenty of deals). That's a lot of cash to leave on the table when you fly 25-30 times/year like I do. Heck, it's a lot of cash to leave if you fly twice a year.

2. Convenient flight times. Bluntly, ABE's flight times suck for business travelers. It forces either layovers or a day extra in travel. Doesn't work for me and most others I speak with.

3. The other airports got their acts together. For example, PHL used to be excruciatingly painful. It's ok now. Same for EWR. You can get away with a premium when the other guy stinks; you can't when he's ok.

4. Southwest. They decided to leave here and that hurt.

All in, I don't see a future for this airport except for what it is now. I don't see these trends shifting and it's catch-22 on any improvements being made.

The Banker

Doc Rock said...

The lack of business travel out of LVIA continues to be its Achilles heel. No airline offers "mainline" service out of LVIA. Instead, they rely on their "Express" subcontractors with their notoriously unreliable and uncomfortable 50-seat jets. You cannot buy a first class seat on any flight out of LVIA - they simply don't exist.

This has bad implications for the Valley's ability to attract firms with good-paying jobs. Why locate in the Valley when air service out of Newark and Philadelphia is so much better (and cheaper)?

The Lehigh Valley seems destined to remain "The Biggest Small Town in America."

Anonymous said...

A number of good comments, many of them about things I do not know a lot about. For me, the bottom line is, there is no direct flight from LVIA to Pittsburgh, PA. Years ago, I could go to LVIA, a ten minute drive, have a wonderfully pleasant experience in the airport, get on a plane, and be in Pittsburgh 45 minutes later. If that were still the case, I would be flying out of LVIA three or four times a year. This particular situation is not the fault of the management of LVIA, but of the airline industry, who has zero interest in serving the public. The alternative is to find a way to get to Newark, and then back from Newark, adding expense to the cost of the trip. Or, to fly out of LVIA to some other city, where my connectiong flight may or may not be cancelled, and where, should things actually go as they are schelduled, I get to Pittsburgh in about 6 or 8 hours. As a result, I seldom go to Pittsburgh at all any more, and seldom see my grandchildren.

Anonymous said...

This is a topic that has always interested me. I'm proud of our airport, and long for the days when air travel was more satisfying. Hey, I actually thought those 'free' hot breakfasts were pretty good!

The Charlotte hub has never disappointed me, but agree the loss of Pittsburgh service is unfortunate.

Another problem I have with ABE is the amount of departures that leave around the 6am time. With security, etc. you have to wake at 4AM and possibly earlier.

I'll still try hard to use ABE. Avoiding the hassle of EWR and PHL is worth something to me in paying a higher ticket price from right here. Sometimes I can get the same fare, but mostly pay $75-100 more per ticket when booking ABE.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Because of corporate policies, we are encouraged to fly out of Phil to save money, so hadn't flown out of LVIA in a while.

On a personal family trip, I managed to miraculously get a competitive flight out of ABE (three of us). Our reward? Two out of the four legs were canceled (it seems "air traffic control activities" cause airlines to preferentially cancel smaller planes). Parking was 2x that of Philly (why close the budget parking? Even without the shuttle it was damn convenient). And one of the cancelled flights ended up with us in Newark anyway (guess who paid for the rental car?).

LVIA makes the turnpike and Blue Route a pleasant alternative. Who'd a thunk?

Anonymous said...

I burn ruts in the Turnpike because there's no alternative to Pittsburgh. 4:45 from Easton to the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. Beats hell out of delays and body cavity searches. And I always get there.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a little disconcerting that the doofus who chairs the worst run government agency in the Lehigh Valley also runs the Chamber?

And another doofus who put said doofus on the board runs the region's economic development agency?

Anonymous said...

Since US Air dumped Pittsburgh as a hub, there really wasnt a need for regular flights there. As 7:06 mentions, anytime you can drive somewhere in 5 hours or less, it almost makes more sense to skip the flight versus the hour's drive to EWR or PHL, plus the time to get thru security, boarding time, flight time (if it's on schedule) deboarding, maybe having to wait for baggage, then going to rental car desk and finally driving to your end destination.

ABE will always be a regional airport, so hoping for direct flights to major non hub cities isn't going to be in the cards for us. What might help though would be more flights to hubs further west like Houston, Dallas, Denver, or Minneapolis.

I know fuel capacity and plane size are factors for West Coast flights, but got to think there's some demand for at least Monday-Friday service out to LA or SF.