Air Transport World

Commuter-regional airframes and engines: industry faces productive but turbulent year; government action regarding ATC and CRS policies can very well turn this industry upside down; but new plane trends are upbeat.

All indicators point to a turbulent, topsyturvy year for the commuter/regional airline industry. There will be drop outs and new entries. Some operators will find sound growth and profitability, and some will cease operations and possibly file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Yet there is much confidence that the base of the industry will expand and that the quality level of equipment will move upward as new planes enter the sytem.

From numerous interviews here are significant comments gathered by ATW's editorial staff: Robert Shults, president of Scheduled Skyways (soon to become a part of Air Midwest) and 1984 chairman of the Regional Airline Association, sees continued strong growth for commuters, but a consolidation of airline services that will scale down the number of companies from the 200-plus today to 60 within the next five years.

He says capitalization during the 1980s has been estimated by financial experts to reach $50 billion, a large portion of which will be invested in new aircraft and support equipment.

Shults believes the pace of growth in passengers carried and quality of service rendered depends a great deal on the manner in which current problems are resolved, i.e. U.S. government actions pertaining to FAA granting commuters use of its rightful share of air space, and the reduction of bias and monopolistic forces in computer reservation systems controlled by Major airlines. He questions the lack of vigor by FAA in rebuilding air traffic control system capabilities lost as a result of the PATCO strike.

Interline relationships

Kingsley Morse, president, Command Airways of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is upbeat about the future of his airline, which carried 9,000 passengers during the first year of service in 1967, and 238,000 last year. The degree of growth for the industry during the next 10 years will, he believes, hinge on development of interline relationships. …

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