Airlines are "Re-Opening" in a high cost/risk mode.

At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and elsewhere, Delta is flying at "all (its) U.S. hubs" with capacity and service "significantly reduced". Delta has moved operations in Chicago to O'Hare from Midway and resumed flights to China. In Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, more flights between hubs in June than May to serve large metropolitan areas. This means, as in Chicago, no Delta service from a second airport in the same Metro area. 

In the case of Chicago-Minneapolis St. Paul air service, Sun Country and Southwest costs will increase at Midway and at MSP. Despite the risks of COVID-19 being spread, passengers and aircraft will more often share airport space at peak hours. Expensive work is underway at Seattle and Atlanta to handle Delta hub-to-hub-to-hub cross-country and international connections. 

More facility and operating costs, with fewer passengers per flight, means much higher fares and fewer jobs.

"In my opinion, there is little chance that enough affordable air service to sustain economic growth in the Twin Cities will return until (if) the pandemic ceases to limit seats per flight." said SMAAC.US co-founder Jim Spensley. "Some airlines are already  out-of-business and the prospects are that an average air trip will be longer and less comfortable again due to over-scheduled hours at busier hubs. 

"SMAAC warned the airports commission, the Governor who appoints the Chair and Commissioners, the Legislature and the FAA that MSP operations should be limited to 130-135 flight operations per hour, and that it would be healthier, safer and better for the economy if they were."

Sometime next year, a vaccine is expected to be available. By then, COVID-19 infections will be widespread with coronavirus mutations likely. international travel restrictions will continue for at least months. 

Flight routes and schedules are set by airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration. However, runway use rates lag behind for a variety of reasons. [Quotes below from Delta Airline News --https://news.delta.com/how-delta-works-faa-manage-air-traffic-during-flight-disruptions.]

1. "Think of airways (airport-to-airport routes) as the highways of the sky. With so many flights arriving and departing in all directions (at a hub-airport) ...circumstances can slow down or prevent flights from operating, causing the airspace to become congested as flights are rerouted. Much the way traffic on a freeway backs up during a lane closure as cars merge into fewer lanes, the same is true with aircraft in the skies above. Unlike cars that can sit at a standstill during a traffic jam, aircraft can't stop mid-air." 

2. Congested airspace increases safety risks in ways the above airline analogy misses. As you know, "bad weather decreases visibility" and too often vehicles crash into the line of stopped vehicles. Technology is catching up to this problem but government regulation lags behind.[The B-737 MAX airworthiness certification is a bit more complicated than checking vehicles for brakes, wiper-blades, and tail-lights, but you get it that the highway crashes happen anyway. The government does not learn well from experience.]

3. Airlines want the airways and aircraft movement managed (and automated?) from gate-to-gate including congestion on the ground planned before the AIRPORT IMPROVEMENT to add high-speed taxiways and more suitable gates, for example, has been funded and completed.

4. "When an airport is impacted by weather, it reduces the number of flights it can land and take off in a given hour. For instance, during peak times at Atlanta's International Airport, 120 flights can arrive each hour (?). Dense fog, thunderstorms or other inclement weather will reduce that arrival rate—when that happens, the FAA will need to put in place initiatives to manage the airspace.

 "To help ease traffic congestion and space out aircraft along the airways (runways?, taxiways?, ramps?) to prevent in-air holding, the FAA will implement various Traffic Management Initiatives  ... Delta (staff) coordinate with the FAA ... to ... manage and prioritize the arrival times for Delta's ...flights." If you live or work around a hub airport, you know in-air holding isn't being prevented. And if you are arriving Atlanta, or Minneapolis-St, Paul, on another airline at the time ... 

 

 

 


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