Friday, May 23, 2008

BROWNSVILLE’S AIRPORT MAY BE ON ITS FINAL LEG, AND THE CITY COMMISSION CONTINUES TO IGNORE THE PROBLEM

The following is from USAToday, Wednesday May 22, 2008.

"Aircraft manufacturing analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group says that in smaller cities where a larger airport is within two to three hours by car, operating fewer flights a day — either on 50- or 70-seat RJs — could become economically unsupportable as business travelers and leisure fliers opt to make relatively short drives to save time or money."

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2008-05-21-regional-jets-cutbacks_N.htm

Continental flies the Embraer RJ 145, out of Brownsville, which is a 50 seater.

http://www.embraercommercialjets.com/english/content/erj/erj_145.asp?tela=layouts

As I have informed my readers, I no longer fly Continental out of Brownsville because I refuse to pay twice the price for the benefit of walking out my door and walking 8 minutes to the terminal. While I hate the 45 minute drive to Harlingen’s airport, for a 50% savings, I will make the drive. My long term readers remember when I use to post Continental’s specials to demonstrate Brownsville was a better deal than Southwest out of Harlingen.

I could not understand why Continental stopped competing with Southwest, until now. The price of fuel has made the operation of the Regional Jets almost impossible. Continental is losing money every day it flies out of Brownsville. The price of fuel has made competition with Southwest which flies 737's almost impossible.

My prediction is Continental sooner than later will consolidate all of its operations out of Harlingen. They will begin to fly 4-5 737 or 757 round-trips to Houston a day. This will be possible because it will abandon its regional jet service to both Harlingen and Brownsville.

The questions is, why Harlingen and not Brownsville? Harlingen’s airport can handle a large number of 737's, while Brownsville continues to struggle to be able to handle larger jet service. While Harlingen is a new and modern airport, Brownsville’s airport is like out of an old horror movie wherein a dysfunctional group of passengers are changing planes in some backwater airport before boarding a doomed flight over the Amazon and into a lost world.

If USAToday’s article is correct, the cost of flying the RJets is going to make it impossible for Continental to compete with Southwest. Imagine yourself Continental - you have to make a decision to go to 737's or 757's and half the flights to the region, are you going to choose Brownsville or Harlingen to consolidate your services? The money is on Harlingen.

Again, I am begging the business community to take the lead on this one. The City Commission is simply too ignorant to understand the issue. Depending on the source, the Greater Brownsville/Matamoros metropolitan area population now exceeds a million people. We are the largest metropolitan area in South Texas, but yet have the smallest airport. This can only be explained through a total and complete lack of leadership on the issue.

Time is certainly running out. If we do not give Continental a good reason to stay in Brownsville, they will consolidate all of their services into Harlingen. Money is cheap at this time. The local business community needs to come together and create a Greater Brownsville/Matamoros International Airport Board, and begin the planning of a new airport on SH 77 and East Blvd.

There is more than enough money in both cities to make this happen. I can assure you, this city commission will still be looking to invest in the old airport as the first flights are landing at the new airport. If we lose our airport, Brownsville will be left behind at a time economic boom appears to be around the corner.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. BWC,

What would you say to those politicians like Leo Garza who rant and rave about giving the airport more money? He may as well be Larry Brown's roommate.

What of the millions of dollars the FAA has given in grants and matching funds to increase the viability of the Brownsville/SPI airport?

V

BobbyWC said...

If Continental abandons its RJets, it cannot afford to have 2 737's daily in and out of Harlingen and 3 in and out of Brownsville -

Brownsville cannot handle it tomorrow if it were told no choice-

I do not believe COntinental is going to agree to stick it out on a promise of endless road patches - which the city seems to believe is the solution.

Iowa is the city's solution to the airport - endless patches which do nothing more than make the city look like a 3rd world country.

Iowa is the shame of the city - it is the first image people heading for SPI have of the city.

Continental knows that if it abandons Brownsville people will have no choice but to go to Harlngen - the money simply is not there to maintain three airports within an hour of each other with full jet service - Brownsville's airport is the logical sacrifice since it is an old and unkept airport.

In this market profit matters - and the price of gas is only going up - this congress has proven it is too bought to be able to react to the crisis

Anonymous said...

It would be very depressing if this happens.

Patricia A.

Anonymous said...

Mr. BWC,

Just testing...I knew you had the answer!

We are so screwed!

V

The Merovingian said...

Well, under such qualified leadership, what would/should we expect?

M.

Anonymous said...

it would be nice if we had a decent public works department. but with our current leadership, its never gonna happen. hopefully, the voters will exchange these commissioners for some who care about our city. iowa is pathetic...minnesota is pathetic. the airport parking lot is pathetic. i guess our city officials never use our airport. i was driving on minnesota south from the airport this morning. there is a huge pothole which they keep on patching. with each patch, a hump is growing in the street. the hump is now about 2 feet tall. if someone hits it, they will be catapulted into the adjacent drain ditch (note:no guard rail). question, if they go out to patch it, why don't they get rid of the 2 foot hump that is in the middle of the road? because they suck...that's why!