3 Links I Love: Branson in the Caribbean, Long Beach Slots, The Return of Peotone

This week’s featured link:

Virgin Atlantic boss expresses interest in investing in LIATThe Daily Herald
Richard Branson has a track record of mediocre performance at best with his airlines, but investing in LIAT would certainly bring the average down. This is just a financial disaster waiting to happen. While normally that wouldn’t rule out a Branson investment, this one is even too bad for him… I think. LIAT is in really bad shape, and this could just be a last gasp effort.

No image of the week this time around

Two for the Road:

Long Beach Airport Redistributes Flight Slots, Welcomes New DevelopmentLong Beach Business Journal
Those 10 slots that JetBlue will gave back in Long Beach have been reallocated. The airport will offer 4 to Delta and 6 to Southwest. What on Earth will Delta do with those 4 slots? And will Southwest have to now cut back its schedule? This is going to get interesting.

Proposed Peotone Airport back in business?Crain’s Chicago Business
Building a third Chicago airport in Peotone was never a good idea. But with O’Hare massive runway and terminal expansion underway, it’s an even worse idea now. So how is it back on the table? File this one under “normal Illinois politics.”

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21 Responses to 3 Links I Love: Branson in the Caribbean, Long Beach Slots, The Return of Peotone

  1. grichard says:

    I have the usual confusion over slots vs slot pairs. Does this change let Delta fly two flights daily, or four?

  2. Davey says:

    Bringing Peotone “back” is an absolute joke. The State of Illinois is between $150 billion and $200 billion (that’s “billion” with a “b”) short of the money necessary to meet its public pension obligations. The state’s budgets are perpetually in the red and its unmet social service needs are skyrocketing. Add to that the fact that infrastructure is crumbling and, given the combination of state and local taxes, Illinoisans are among the highest taxed people on the planet and one has to wonder what’s the Kool-Aid the state’s politicians are drinking.

    Oh, and Illinois is losing, net, about 80,000 or so people a year!

    No airline in its right mind will fly to Peotone so long as O’Hare and Midway are available. Both are far closer to the city than the “Kankakee Worldport.” And in St. Louis, the state tried exactly the same thing with an airport near Scott Air Force Base. It worked about as well as Petone will — in short, at best it wrestled about 100 flights (total) in 10 years from Lambert St. Louis International. It’s now a GA airport and general ghost town.

    Peotone is a “make-work” program designed to spread patronage to lawyers, engineers, construction firms, planners etc., in Southern Cook, Will and Kankakee Counties. It has no economic rationale outside of creating construction jobs and will become the airport to and from nowhere almost as soon as Governor JB cuts the ribbon!

    • Alan says:

      MidAmerica (the aforementioned STL airport near Scott AFB) now serves several Allegiant destinations and handled 300,000 pax in 2018. Kind of like a closer-in Rockford.

      • Davey says:

        And how much did the people of the State of Illinois pay for a totally useless airport that handled about the same number of passengers in a year that Lambert handled in a couple of days? And, how much is Allegiant subsidized to fly there?

        Face it, Illinois is broke. If the state was swimming in cash, streets paved in gold and every able-bodied Illinoisan working in a job that paid significantly above median for the nation or if our hospitals across the state were first-rate and our social service needs nil, then OK. Build a speculative airport and see what happens.

        But Illinois is not Oz. And JB, Mike Madigan and the Springfield gang are not the Wizard. Our needs are massive, our funding depleted and our politicians out of their minds. At least on this one.

        The Kankakee Worldport doesn’t need to be another Mid-America. We don’t need it and when you are broke, you spend your money far more wisely.

        • Nathaniel says:

          As much as I agree with your general argument mid America is not the best example to hold up here as at the time construction was planned and started wasn’t Lambert still a TWA hub? It was set up to help resolve an issue that 2001 helped end through no fault of the airports own.

    • A says:

      Agreed completely with Davey. Chicagoland doesn’t need another airport, certainly not one with any state/local money invested. Illinois is like California but all you get for all the taxes and debt is crappy weather. Massive airport development happening in growth places like MCO make sense. They’re allegedly fixing ORD but the region is not growing where it will require a 3rd airport. Let people drive to IND if they want an alternative on that end of the city.

      • Chris says:

        I’ve never understood why they don’t just encourage expansion at Gary which has had Part 121 service in the past. With ORD’s new terminal project and the runway expansion complete, the 3rd airport discussion should be dead for at least two more generations.

      • Stogieguy7 says:

        Most of the higher-income population in Chicagoland lives in the north, northwest and west suburbs and in select parts of Chicago. Peotone is nowhere near any of these areas. Worse yet, the traffic to get from those areas to Peotone is horrible. For someone from Lake Forest or Mount Prospect or Arlington Heights, MKE would be closer and more convenient than Peotone.

        What is near Peotone? Agricultural land and lots of it. Small, not particularly prosperous villages. And the south suburbs of Chicago, most of which are lower income and not known for being laden with frequent fliers. A Peotone airport is an incredibly stupid idea.

        Lastly, I see some comments about why Gary never took off as a Chicago alternative. Again, not a competitive location from the point of view of where frequent fliers live. There are pockets of wealth in NW Indiana (like Valparaiso) but it’s not enough to support Gary as a viable alternative to MDW and ORD. Has nothing to do with politics, it’s all geography and the inconvenience of getting to that facility from most places where the customers live.

  3. Bill says:

    I agree with Davey, Peotone is a stupid idea, especially with the ORD expansion moving forward. Rahm, like the stopped clock that’s right twice per day, is correct on this one.

  4. Yo says:

    Remember the failed airline that touted that they fly to “Chicago’s Third Airport!”, Gary, IN.

    Yeah, that worked…

    • grichard says:

      And Gary’s airport is a lot closer to downtown Chicago than Peotone would be. If Gary can’t hold commercial service despite their efforts, it’s baffling to think why Peotone would work.

  5. Kilmer says:

    Poor LIAT, can’t get a break! It’s a classic case of a government-owned airline: strong government, strong unions and management not allowed to manage. Made much worse by Allen Stanford who started Caribbean Star in competition. They cut each other’s throats and you end up with two dead ducks, to mix my metaphors. LIAT took over Caribbean Star but has never recovered financially. Made worse by island governments who then piled on massive ticket taxes e.g. the government of Antigua collects $75 from every passenger who flies on and off the island and then whines that they have to subsidize LIAT. If LIAT increased it’s fares by $75 and taxes were zero, the passenger wouldn’t care but would a subsidy still be necessary? LIAT is one of the very few airlines that has a monopoly in its area and still it can’t break even. Branson is on to something but subject to conditions that ignorant politicians likely won’t accept (cf Alitalia). LIAT is an essential service in that part of the world. If it goes under, what then? I could go on and on but enough, already…..

  6. Nathaniel says:

    CF, can Delta use the LGB slots to resolve the Love Field Situation? Is SW LGB flights doing well enough that they would be willing to trade?

    • Tim Dunn says:

      Cranky can reply but the LGB slots are not worth near as much as access to Love Field. Delta will likely continue to press the Love Field case because they do not want any city to be able to pick winners and losers in a market or allow a carrier to dominate an airport it controls. Given the Love Field case has dragged out as long as it has, neither side has anything to lose by continuing the status quo and WN’s charges that Delta is trespassing clearly haven’t gained traction.

      As for LGB, it is one of the faster growing cities for LUV which says a lot given that their capacity is pressured by the MAX grounding. There are pulling back capacity the most at MDW, BWI, LAS, FLL and MCO as well as some of Delta’s hubs (ATL is a large operation for WN anyway) but they are standing firm on growth in California including SJC.

      I suspect that Delta wants to get in on service to LGB from JFK, ATL and SEA with a moderate presence to expand their network at an airport where LUV wants to grow. It is very much in Delta’s playbook to be present in growth markets for low cost carriers.

      I doubt that LUV will back down on what they are doing at LGB or Love Field regardless of what Delta does or wants to do. Delta and Southwest are both very principled airlines with respect to their strategies.

      • CF says:

        I don’t think there’s a trade to be had here, even if it was allowed (which it technically isn’t). In both airports, Delta is sitting on slots or gates that Southwest would want. So what’s the trade?

        I think Delta is really just squatting in LGB – my best guess is Seattle and maybe 1 Atlanta, but I doubt any of those will do well. It just prevents Southwest from doing something.

        • Rudy says:

          Isn’t Delta super gate constrained in SEA? I wouldn’t think they would want to waste gate space for flights to LGB before adding ONT and BUR.

          BUR used to only have 3 SLC flights a day but now as of October they will have 5, plus two ATL. My prediction is they will do something similar at LGB where they bump SLC up to 5 and add two ATL, but that still leaves one slot? I’m so curious to find out! But as a Delta Diamond Medallion I’m all for it! It’s nearly impossible to get to the east coast at a decent time from LGB because the 7am to SLC misses that first bank of connections.

          • CF says:

            Rudy – Yeah, that is true at Seattle but there may be some off-peak times where they have room to slot it in. I don’t really know. All I know is that LGB consistently underperforms in general and having an ATL flight would use a lot of aircraft time.

            • Dutch McAck says:

              Here is what’s going to happen. The noise budget is still far below 100%, meaning there is a possibility of adding slots, per the Noise Ordinance.

              WN will force the City to allocate more slots since they are below the noise budget. I expect LGB to authorize 3-5 additional slots (for WN) in the near future – enough for WN to fly their full proposed schedule – 4 SJC, 4 OAK, 4 SMF, 3 LAS, 1 DEN.

              Now they need to open up pas 12!

  7. littlerichard says:

    LIAT = Leaving Island anytime

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