“It’s just that simple,” national carrier networks and low fares key to Branson airport success

The following article was printed in the Oct. 15 edition of the Branson Daily Independent and is republished with permission.

And the Survey said, “If there was low cost air service available to Branson from a given area, more people would chose to come to Branson from that area than would otherwise come.” Jeff Bourk, Executive Director, Branson Airport, LLC, said, “That’s basically the pitch, it’s that simple.”

In describing the process used to arrive at that conclusion Bourk said it involved a comparison of where the millions of people who visit Branson each year are coming from against the national networks of the low cost carriers serving those areas. Each carrier has the daily potential to bring people to Branson from each of the cities in their network. He said, “You have airlines with 1,500 people a day to 3,000 people a day already coming to Branson” which could represent up to 30 flights per day in these networks.

Bourk explained that the success of the airport does not depend on getting carriers to put in 30 flights a day. He said, “Originally we want them to put in two or three flights a day to get the service started.” He went on to say that even in this economy there are a lot of potential passengers who want to come to Branson and compared the number of passengers necessary for the success of the airport to getting a bucket of water out of the ocean.

The airport surveyed over 12,000 people from the major areas where Branson’s visitors already come from. The survey revealed that if low cost air service was available to Branson about 75 percent more of the people from a given destination and its surrounding area would chose to come to Branson that wouldn’t otherwise come because of the long drive or having to take a bus. That’s not counting the people who would convert from “drive to fly” if there was a low cost carrier flying into Branson.

When discussing fares Bourk said, “Springfield and Fayetteville are some of the highest priced airports in the country.” While acknowledging that Springfield had Allegiant, a great low fare carrier to the few relatively few destinations they fly to, he pointed out that the rest of Springfield’s service was very costly.

Bourk went on to explain that Branson Airport is looking for air carriers that are low cost and have a national network. Although he could not give the specifics of the carrier or carriers that have agreed to service the airport he said the type of low cost nationally networked air carrier they are looking for would be, in alphabetical order, carriers such as “AirTran, Allegiant, Continental, Frontier, Spirit, Sun Country, and, airlines like that.”

A comparison of the maps of the low cost carrier national networks against the destinations where Branson’s marketing data establishes the majority of its visitors come from indicates two things. The astute selection of the right low cost carrier or carriers can make Branson an affordable air destination from the majority of the major airports in the United States and, if the survey is right, “It’s just that simple.”

Furnished Courtesy of the Branson Daily Independent

About Gary Groman aka The Ole Seagull

Editor of The Branson Courier
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