Q & A with BGM!

There’s been a lot of buzz regarding The Greater Binghamton Airport lately. To ensure that everyone was well-informed, we set out to answer any questions that you might have. Throughout the month of February, we’ve been asking the community to submit theirs to us directly on our Facebook page.

Our own Dave Hickling, Commissioner of Aviation, and Mark Heefner, Deputy Commissioner of Aviation, went LIVE on Facebook on Thursday, February 23rd to answer a handful of questions from YOU the viewers! However, we didn’t have enough time to address all of your submissions. We thought the best way to provide some more detail and get to those missed questions was through our blog.

Here’s what you missed if you forgot to tune in to our video as well as the answers to the inquiries we didn’t get to LIVE!

 

General Question:  Is the airport closing?

Suzanne Skrepcinski Smacher: So is it true your closing the airport and we have to find alternative airports to fly out of?

AnnAndJim Rounds: There’s no doubt the service available from BGM today is horrible. Is there any hope that someone is working to bring back some more carriers? Rumor has it (and it looks very viable) that BGM will close and NYS is consolidating airport services. It certainly looks that way based on the funds being given out. Why hasn’t BGM been in the game?

Terry Wood: Why is the airport updating runways if the airport is going away?

 

Answer: The rumor that BGM will close isn’t true. Our airport gets a lot of attention for its commercial service, but that’s just 1/3 of our operations. The other 2/3 of the operations includes military, corporate aviation, helicopter operations, medevac, and flight students. However, since most people think about our commercial service, keep in mind that we still have Delta Airlines flying to Detroit on regional jets. Delta is the second largest airline in the United States and has been our best performing service over the past three years. They focus on completing their flights and being on time. They know it is important to our local economy. Our airport is also an important economic driver for our community. It provides local businesses a link to the rest of the world to ensure the growth of a healthy economy in Greater Binghamton.

 

General Question: Why don’t we have airlines like Southwest or JetBlue?

Jeanne Brizzee: What about SouthWest? There has to be some other airline company that would come here. This airport cannot close. It’s been around for years and all of a sudden it’s a BIG issue of keeping planes here? Makes no sense to me.

Linda McGreal: Why can’t we get something like Jet Blue or Allegiant?

Answer: We would love to get a low-cost carrier (LCC) in here. If you look at JetBlue’s and Southwest’s route maps on their website, you can see that their business model focuses on service between large metro areas with lots and lots of potential passengers. They fly daily flights generally with at least 150 seats per plane. With a larger market, they have a greater potential to have planes that are always full and make them profitable. A 150 passenger Boeing 737 (which is a popular plane for those types of carriers) costs anywhere from $55 million to $80 million just to purchase it. Because of this, they want to make sure their planes are full and profitable each and every time they fly. They’re a business and they’re in it to make money. While many people would use this service occasionally, they wouldn’t use it daily or even weekly to make it a truly profitable venture for Southwest or JetBlue to come here.

 

General Question: Why don’t we have carrier like Allegiant that flies direct to a southern destination?

Amy Lynn: Would other airlines such as Spirit, Allegiant, etc be considered in cheaper airlines?

Rita Moore: Will we be able to get direct flights to south carolina and other southern states?

Linda Sabine: will any flights fly direct to Fla. airports instead of having to drive outside of Bing areas ? to get a direct flight .

Linda McGreal: Why can’t we get something like Jet Blue or Allegiant?

Answer: Allegiant has a completely different business model than airlines like JetBlue and Southwest. Allegiant offers less than daily service, which our market could support, unlike the other two mentioned. We’ve been talking and negotiating with Allegiant for over 10 years. They have chosen to operate at a few of the airports close by and are doing very well in those locations. Our community has shown they’d like that service and we’re working on bringing it here! We’ve also talked to similar low cost carriers from startups to established ones to entice them to fly from the BGM market.

 

 

General Question: What about additional service or one to a southern hub like Atlanta?

Kevin LaBarr: Any other commercial airlines on the horizon? I’m a SkyMiles member with Delta and love them but just curious.

Marcia Greene: Do you plan on having non stop flights to Atlanta?

Jean Rolka Petryszyn: I hope you are working on attracting other airlines here. With the expansion of Binghamton University we really need a decent airport.

Gladys Butler: Any chance Delta would add flights to another hub? Passengers going east or the Caribbean first have to go northwest.

Answer: We have been and will continue to work very hard to bring additional air service to BGM. Prior to the announcement from United Airlines that they would be leaving BGM, it was a difficult venture to pursue because we were not filling our planes that we had available already. We can now demonstrate that we have demand for another hub to the South. However, with the airlines changing their fleet mix, we are working against an issue of aircraft availability. We’ve talked to several airlines about providing service to Atlanta, Charlotte, and even back to Washington DC. We’ve certainly presented a good case to them. Airlines take a very calculated and slow approach when choosing their routes, so we will be patient but persistent in our efforts.

 

 

Question: Sheri Jones: Why did you discontinue a few years back a direct flight to Atlanta? That is a major hub and you could get there in 1 1/2 hours and proceed from there instead of sending us to Philly or Detroit or Washington DC? I am ready to book a flight for the end of March beginning of April, wish you would post news earlier so I would consider BGM again instead of Wilkes Barre.

 Answer: The airport and Broome County do not control where airlines fly to and from. That route to ATL did perform well when it was here; however, the airline discontinued the route because it found another route that could be more profitable with the same plane. We have a good case to get ATL back and we will continue to work to do so. Just as we lost that service because the airline thought another market would perform better, we will work to convince the airline that our market could do better than one that has that service now.

We will continue to do our best to announce things as soon as we hear anything from the airlines so our passengers can make the best decisions possible.

 

 

Question: Angela Taylor: What initiatives are being developed to improve the infrastructure around BGM to a) increase access from the expressway, and b) utilize surrounding land to broaden/lengthen the runways to support/attract other carriers?

Answer: Infrastructure is not really an issue in regards to our efforts to attract and maintain air service. That is primarily based on availability of aircrews and aircraft and which markets are the most profitable for the airline to put those resources into.

 

 

Question: Erik Auzens: Is the airport in peril of losing commercial service?

Kenneth W. Cornell: will there be any airlines left to fly there ???

Answer: BGM is not in peril of losing commercial service. We currently have Delta that services our Airport. SkyWest (who operates as Delta) has actually shown their commitment to our market by adding another flight starting in March. They have assured us that they are committed to our market and want to stay in BGM. If our community supports the service to DTW (Detroit) then we will have the opportunity to grow our frequency and destinations with SkyWest. We also have opportunity for growing service with demand for a southern hub.

 

 

Question: Julia Seager: Will most of the flights be on the aforesaid schedule?

Answer: Yes. Delta will be flying their current schedule. They will be adding another flight that will operate in the early afternoon starting in March.

 

 

Question: Ben Perrotte: Gone are the days of flights from Bgm to Phl?

Answer: Not sure if this is a question or a statement, but yes that flight is no longer available. However, we are working on getting American Airlines back in our market. We’ve discussed several options with them and are diligently working on it.

 

 

Question: Sean Conaty: To Vegas for a reasonable price? Lol

Answer: You can find good prices with Delta to Las Vegas with a little research and flexibility on flight dates. They fly through Detroit (DTW) and there are quick connections to be found from there.

 

 

General Question: When will the next Air Show be coming to BGM?

Colleen Driscall: Is there any chance that you’ll be bringing back an air show? It seems like a very popular event. We enjoyed it so much the last time it was here. It was a really great family event. Even the parking went nice and smooth!

Phil Smyth: Are we ever going to get a Binghamton airshow again?

Michael Patchett: Will we have an Airshow?

Answer: Every year we put in an application for a headline act such as the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. They come to smaller communities like ours every 5-8 years. So, we’ve been applying each year for that. Airshows involve a large financial undertaking and we like to keep the ticket cost as low as we can for our community; so, we want to make sure we have a headliner and good sponsors that’ll help make that possible. We will continue to look for opportunities to bring the air show back to BGM

 

 

General Question: What restaurant options are there at BGM?

Joe Leeson-Schatz: Will you be having food options available there? I often fly out at 650am, and would very much like a place to grab a bagel or a small bite!

Amy Lynn: Also I know it was announced that a local brewery was going in the old, Subway spot. Is that still an option or is there plans for something else?

Answer: We have Binghamton Brewing Company currently working on their bar on the secure side of the terminal. We understand the importance of having a place to get food and drink before and after your flight. They are still moving forward with this and should have something open soon. If you’d like to ask more about it or have a specific question for them, try commenting on their Facebook page or at their website. They are very responsive.

 

 

Question: Sheri Jones: I see in the legal section of today’s paper Broome County has a bid out for “Airport Advertising Concession” would this be to bring concessions in? I would worry about getting airlines first if that is what the bid is about.

Answer: We are working on bringing more airlines and routes to our airport. We focus on that every day. However, this bid was not about that. That particular bid was to attract interested advertising firms.

 

 

Question: Laura Coppens: Is the Security screening going to be updated? Pre-Check is worthless without the other xray type of screening – especially for those with knee or hip replacements.

Answer: The security screening at the Airport will not be adding any additional equipment in the first two quarters of 2017. The backscatter machines are very expensive and require extensive infrastructure considerations. At this time they will not be updating their screening equipment. TSA generally takes a different approach with passengers who tell them they have replacements as they enter the checkpoint. Please consult their website for more information concerning this.

 

 

Question: Cathy Honrath: The airport remains open during construction, but there will be NO COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS! Why bother?

Answer: Thank you for asking this one, we’ve had so many questions about this recently that I welcome the opportunity to explain.

We designed and bid this project last summer and at that time we communicated our intentions with all three airlines that were operating at BGM at that time. Our intentions were to close the primary runway for 30 days for reconstruction and have the secondary runway available for use. Two of the airlines were flying turboprops and stated that there would be no issues using the secondary runway. Delta, operating regional jets, indicated that they would continue to operate but would likely do so with reduced capacity. We anticipated that any passengers not able to use Delta due to the reduced capacity would be accommodated on one of the other two carriers using the turboprops. Obviously the other two carriers are now not an option and the recent decision by Delta to suspend their flights all together during this project was not anticipated.

Also, please keep in mind that although commercial flights are what the general public focus’ on they only make up about 1/3 of our overall traffic at BGM. Other users include corporate aviation, charter flights, military training or operations, helicopter operations, cargo planes, Medical transportation and life flights, flight instruction, and others. There are also about 40 aircraft based here at the Binghamton Airport.

We have a secondary runway that allows us to be able to reconstruct our primary runway while staying open for those who choose to use that runway. A luxury that Ithaca did not have when they did close the airport for the duration when they did an identical project.

So, after all that, the short answer is that as a public use airport, we have the responsibility to both maintain safe infrastructure for aircraft operations and to remain open for use and available whenever possible. We will be doing both.

 

 

General Question: What about a regional or combined airport?

Kenneth Del Bianco: When will you realize that NYS has chosen the Elmira Airport as the Regional Airport.They are getting $45 million from the State. Why didn’t you take some of the $500 million in transformative to study possible real sites for a regional airport that would serve Corning, Binghamton and Ithaca?

Hugh Simpson: If the airlines choose not to serve this airport, what are the chances we could go the regional route? Seems like Elmira, Ithaca, and Binghamton could combine.

Answer:         This is a big question that deserves more response that we can give it here. Look for an in-depth response in an upcoming blog post.

 

 

Question: Deborah Chavez: People would use that airport if prices for a flight where reasonable, I fly a lot and always get better prices at Scranton or Elmira, when I have my own airport here in Binghamton, and now u want to remodel didn’t u just did that. We don’t need remodeling we need better prices and more flight choices.

Answer: Airfares are a difficult issue to explain but please understand that we, the airport, or the County do not decide airfares.

Our airfare issue is as much an issue with perception as it is with high fares. There are times when our fares are much higher and when they are we certainly understand the need to look at other options. But there are times when our fares are very comparable or even cheaper than Scranton or other local airports. However, there are many, way too many, people that do not consider BGM because of the perception that it is always too expensive. We appreciate you wanting to fly from BGM and hope you continue to compare prices so you can fly local.

The remodel you ask about I assume is for the runway rehabilitation that will take place in May. We have addressed the need for that in an earlier question.

 

 

We thank you all so much for submitting your questions. We did our best to cover everything that was asked! If you still have questions or need clarification on anything feel free to reach out to us on our Facebook page!

A big thank you from our own Dave Hickling and Mark Heefner for all of your engagement leading up to our first LIVE video and Q&A Blog!

Lastly, thank you for supporting the Greater Binghamton Airport!  #FlyBGM