Can e-mail help a city retain air service?

Will Hickory, North Carolina’s airport go the way of MidAmerica Airport, St. Louis’ supposed second airport?

Not if the Hickory City Council has their way, they’re starting up an email campaign and visiting businesses trying to get them to use their local airport. Delta’s regional partner Atlantic Southeast services Hickory and load factors have hovered around just 40%. Delta is considering pulling service.

The City Council thinks people just need to realize how great the airport is — free parking, short checkin lines, and close to home for Hickory residents. Sure it’s a little more expensive, but generally not more than $100 than flying out of Charlotte. Residents just need to understand the benefits of their home airport, of course, so the city is going to try a metaphorical “grand re-opening.”

[Sarcasm]Naturally, it’s the consumers who must be wrong here.[/Sarcasm]

Could the problem be, perhaps that Charlotte is worth driving to not just for lower fares but also for non-stop flights, given the substantial nationwide service that USAirways offers there? Could a secondary problem be that Atlantic Southeast Airlines is the worst domestic U.S. regional carrier, at least in my own limited experience (also born out by the experiences of other frequent flyers)?

A more expensive, inferior service that requires connections doesn’t generate as much traffic as hoped. And the City Council thinks email is going to solve their problems?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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