'Slot swap' hurts PTIA passengers during '13
A two-word, alliterative aviation expression — slot swap — helps explain in large part why Piedmont Triad International Airport didn’t welcome as many passengers last year as compared to 2012.
Last year, 848,605 passengers boarded flights at PTIA, off 4.5 percent from the 888,773 during 2012. One major change for the airport and its passengers was a shift in service to and from New York City involving Delta Airlines and US Airways, which completed a merger with American Airlines in late December.
Last year, the two carriers swapped what are known as slots at New York LaGuardia International Airport, one of the key direct service hubs for PTIA. The net result for the airport was that PTIA lost the number of daily airline seats on planes going to and from LaGuardia.
Because of the slot swap between the two airlines, PTIA went from 350 seats a day to LaGuardia on US Airways to 210 to 280 per day on Delta, said PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker.
“However you look at that, it’s either a 20 percent or 40 percent drop in seats to our largest market,” Baker said. “When you lose that many seats, that really hurts.”
If not for the loss of seats to New York City because of the slot swap, Baker estimates that the airport would have finished 2013 between 1 percent and 1.5 percent off 2012 instead of down 4.5 percent.
The addition of airline service during 2013, such as the Frontier Airlines flights to and from Denver International Airport, wasn’t enough to make up for the loss of seats from the slot swap, he said.
Baker told The High Point Enterprise that he wasn’t surprised by the passenger boarding totals for 2013.
“We were certainly looking for last year to be a very flat year. We were hopeful that it might be flat and not down,” Baker said.
At the start of this year, a major move by a carrier serving PTIA offers a promising omen for service to passengers.
Last month, the airline created by the merger of American Airlines and US Airways announced it will add flights to and from PTIA and LaGuardia starting April 1.
The merged carrier, called American Airlines Group, will add three daily nonstop trips between PTIA and LaGuardia except on Saturday, when there will be one flight.
“Hopefully it bodes well for a good 2014,” Baker said.
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Piedmont Triad International Airport currently offers 50 flights, depending on the day, to 14 airports in the South, East, Midwest and as far west as Denver. The airport is served by these airlines: American/US Airways, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier and United Express.