Air Transport World

Luring the LCCs: a ready market and good low-cost terminal facilities are the keys to attracting new-style airlines to an airport.(Airports)(low-cost carriers)

Memo to airport directors: If you want to bring low-cost carriers to your airport, show them a large, underserved market and give them plenty of gate and operational space at reasonable rates. Don't forget planning support--and some cash--for promotional events and advertising, and make sure your airfield has no delay-causing congestion.

This is the formula that brought Southwest Airlines to Baltimore-Washington International Airport 11 years ago and convinced the Dallas-based low-fare Major to start Philadelphia service this month. Both airports also host other low-cost carriers as well as a full set of traditional airlines.

Factors in Southwest's choice of BWI as its first East Coast station included lack of dominance by any other carrier, Executive VP Gary Kelly tells ATW. "USAir had a hub there but was downsizing. The airport was not congested and was under-priced compared with others. Baltimore was a great option at the time, and obviously history has proved it was right."

BWI's landing fee is a modest $1.63 per 1,000 lb. of landed weight and airline space rentals average about $51 per sq. ft. per year. This translates to an average per-enplaned-passenger cost to the airlines of $4.33, which James Walsh, BWI's deputy executive director for business management and administration, gleefully points out is "considerably lower than at least the local competition." Washington Dulles International lists its per-passenger cost at $14.64, Reagan National at $12.44. Landing fees are $2.50 at Dulles, $2.51 at National. Airlines serving Dulles also pay $1.38 per passenger to use the mobile lounges that originally were intended to ferry passengers directly to the aircraft but now primarily shuttle them back and forth from the original terminal to the newer midfield terminals. …

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