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Mid-size airports suffer biggest cuts in airline service

TRAVEL BRIEFCASE

Mid-size airports lost an average of 26.2% of their flights from 2007 to 2012 because of airline mergers, a deep recession and surging fuel prices, study says.

May 13, 2013|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
  • Airline departures dropped 24.8% from 2007 to 2012 at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. Above, a Southwest flight is outward bound at the airport in September.
Airline departures dropped 24.8% from 2007 to 2012 at Bob Hope Airport in… (Richard Derk )

Airline mergers, a deep recession and surging fuel prices have led to sharp cuts in airline service around the country. Hardest hit: medium-size airports.

Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, LA/Ontario International Airport and other mid-size airports lost an average of 26.2% of their flights from 2007to 2012, according to a new study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's International Center for Air Transportation.

The cuts are a result of airlines eliminating less-profitable routes and focusing on more popular, high-profit routes, the report said. Many airlines have also replaced multiple flights of small, 50-seat planes with one or two flights using larger, 76-seat planes, the report noted.

"The past six years have been challenging ones for domestic air service in the United States," according to the report by researchers Michael D. Wittman and William S. Swelbar. "Most airports have seen a reduction in scheduled domestic flights."

Large airports such as Los Angeles International Airport have lost 8.8% of their flights, while small airports such as Long Beach and Santa Barbara municipal airports lost 18.2% in the six-year period, the study found.

The biggest drop has been at mid-size airports such as Bob Hope Airport, where airline departures dropped 24.8% in the six-year period.

Bob Hope officials say they are trying to reverse the trend by holding down the cost for airlines to fly out of the airport. Those costs include landing fees and rental and leasing rates for airport facilities, said airport spokesman Victor Gill.

The airport also launched an incentive program in November to waive landing fees for all new flights to cities previously not served by the airport.

To draw more passengers, the airport is increasing its marketing efforts. For example, Gill said the airport recently signed a deal to make Bob Hope the official airport of the Rose Bowl for the next three years.

Boarding passes reveal faster screening

It's not exactly like winning the lottery, but boarding passes for some frequent fliers on US Airways, Delta and United airlines will now include a symbol that lets them go through screening faster.

The faster screening lines are offered under a program called PreCheck, operated by the Transportation Security Administration.

Frequent fliers with five of the largest airlines are invited to apply for the PreCheck program. If they get selected by the TSA to participate they can go through screening without removing their shoes, belts and jackets or taking laptops and liquid bottles out of carry-on bags.

Here's how it worked in the past: Passengers who applied for the program would learn only when they arrived at the airport if the TSA approved them to use the faster screening checkpoint.

Now, passengers who see a PreCheck logo on their boarding passes know instantly that they have been approved.

The TSA hopes to eventually include the logo on the boarding passes for those lucky approved fliers on Alaska and American airlines.

Vacations improve love life, survey says

Is your love life lacking? Maybe you need a vacation.

A new survey of 2,076 adults found that 88% of Americans are "somewhat likely to be intimate" when taking a vacation with a spouse or partner.

Only 12% said they are "somewhat or much less likely" to be intimate on vacation, according to the survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia, one of the world's largest travel sites.

What's more, the study said couples who vacation three or more times a year are more likely to be satisfied with their love lives than those who take two or fewer vacations a year.

Here's a surprise from another Expedia survey: The top city for intimate vacations was not Paris or Rome. It was Atlantic City, N.J.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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