Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Airport marketing study takes off
By Kelley Atherton
The Crescent City (CA) Daily Triplicate
A new marketing study could lead to improved service at Del Norte County’s airport. The Border Coast Regional Airport Authority has approved a study to find out why people like using the airport or why they choose to fly into and out of other cities. The study will cost about $10,000. This will help the airport board determine what services need to be changed or added and how to market the airport. Mark Sixel of Sixel Consulting Group out of Eugene, Ore., will conduct a survey that will include:
Dan Brattain, head of the airport board marketing committee, met with Sixel earlier in April.
“The primary thing to identify is the travel patterns of all residents, in particular those not using the airport,” Brattain said Thursday. “(Sixel) will work closely with us to increase enplanement.”
Another important aspect is learning how to market the community based on survey results, said Airport Manager Jim Bernard. Once the study is complete, Sixel will apply for a Small Community Air Service Development grant to jump-start marketing efforts.
The three-year grant will be for about $150,000. However, the money can only be used once.
“It’s a one-shot deal; you don’t get two dips into the pot,” Bernard said.
The study should be completed fairly rapidly. The application for the federal grant is due June 6.
Brattain said he’s already received input from the community about the local air service. While people recognize that it’s easier to fly to San Francisco from Crescent City, he said, there’s no way to go north. Many locals drive to Arcata or Medford, Ore., airports to fly, but with rising gas prices, Brattain said that more people might consider flying locally.
There could be some options to work with Skywest and other regional airports to get more flights, Brattain explained. A flight to Medford or North Bend, Ore., would open up connections to other locations.
“It’s a concept at this point,” Brattain said. “It’s one idea we ought to explore being in the middle of all these airports.”
Additional input has included complaints about flight delays at the San Francisco airport, Bernard said, but that’s not an issue he or the Skywest crew can control.
These are the types of issues the airport board hopes the marketing study will unearth in more detail. Airport board chairman David Finigan, a county supervisor, said that a study is necessary to find those issues.
“It’s a necessary component,” Finigan said. “We need to know where the markets are and where leakage is so we can tweak our business model to get what’s missing and figure out what we’re not providing.”
Finigan said the board is looking to the future to get more airline carriers and more flights. However, the local people have to want it first.
“If Arcata can get Frontier Air and Delta, why can’t we get them?” Finigan said. “Where is that market and what have to do capture that market?”
Editor’s Note: Always interesting that the urban areas understand the value of airports to their economy, while after they are established larger municipalities don’t seem to.