Passenger planes don’t just fly anywhere.
Airlines need a convincing business case before they will dedicate one or more of their birds to a new route. It’s a complex juggling act between expected passenger volumes and revenue, and aircraft availability and operating costs.
It’s usually up to an airport to provide an airline with compelling evidence why a new route is warranted and financially viable.
“Airline network planners are looking as for as much tangible information as they can get,” said Mark Laroche, President and CEO at the Ottawa Airport Authority. “It’s valuable to know how many people travel to a specific destination and how many continue on from there to others.”
Business travelers are key
“Unlike the typical price-conscious leisure traveler looking for seat sales and other discounts, business travelers fly on more predictable schedules and are more tolerant on fares,” Laroche said.
For Ottawa, the average load factor (percentage of seats filled per flight) is less than the industry norm, at about 70 per cent versus 80. On the other hand, business travelers represent a higher than average proportion of local travelers.
“Because those business travelers are often willing to pay more on average than the typical leisure traveler, it makes up the difference,” said Laroche.
But who are these business travelers, where are they going, and will they go more often if there is non-stop service?
These are the questions the Ottawa Airport must answer to understand where there is a need and an opportunity to approach an airline about adding a new route. The problem is, the answers can’t accurately be found just by looking at historical passenger volume data.
YOW wants to hear from you
So the Ottawa Airport is engaging an industry research firm to reach out to the local business community with telephone, web and in-person surveys through the end of this year.
“We need to understand how many business travelers are flying to a particular destination by whatever route,” Laroche said. “From there, we can determine if we can get a viable load factor and yield to sustain non-stop service or an increase in frequency of an existing flight.”
Once a route is established, there will always be additional customer volumes that will be stimulated by its availability, such as other tourism and leisure travelers, said Laroche.
Ottawa’s daily flight to London is a perfect example.
“This is a route that local residents shouldn’t take for granted,” he said. “It connects us to one of the world’s global hubs and opens us up to the entire European continent. Many of these passengers continue on to other destinations.”
Tell YOW where you want to go
So where is your business taking you? How are you getting there?
San Francisco, for example, is one key destination that does not currently have non-stop service from Ottawa. Would a new flight to that destination or another benefit your bottom line? Would an airline be able to count on sufficient passengers to fill the plane? If so, the Ottawa Airport Authority wants to hear from you.
You don’t have to wait for that phone call to share your thoughts. You are always welcome to contact the Ottawa Airport at any time, at www.yow.ca/fly