Sunday, August 27, 2006
2006: A down year no matter how you slice it
For passengers, the hassle factor goes up exponentially when you're forced from a comfortable, convenient airport like Manchester to a stress-filled war zone like Boston's Logan. Delta Airlines, the biggest advocate of this negative approach, has pulled mainline jets from Manchester and now flies small regional jets on its rather long route to Atlanta. For every person that doesn't mind the switch, there are hundreds that do.
Taking a different approach from Delta are the other major carriers at MHT, including United, USAirways, and Northwest. These carriers have tweaked their schedules a bit over the past few years but have generally kept a mainline presence here that Delta hasn't. King of the hill Southwest has largely kept a very robust schedule out of Manchester, so kudos to them for that.
The decline in traffic at MHT isn't a death knell, so let's dispense with that right now. This is the 'perfect storm' of conditions that has caused airlines to retrench rather than grow. Manchester Airport isn't seeing anything different from other airports around the country. This isn't a 'Manchester' thing as much as it is an 'industry' thing. The good news is that MHT is a proven station. We've demonstrated phenomenal growth here, and passengers know all about our airport. If the flights come back, they will too.
News of note this year has been a bit spartan, obviously. The 'biggest' news, of course, is the construction of a new control tower to replace the one over by the Ammon Terminal. The new tower is beautiful and gives controllers a great view of the whole field. As of this writing, the new tower is operational and the old one will come down sometime in September.
Also, observers witnessed a couple rare military troop charters that operated through MHT this summer. An American Airlines 757 came through on a Saturday afternoon to take the troops out west, followed a few weeks later by this colorful American Trans Air (ATA) 757 that brought the troops home.