Regional airports flying into trouble

Travelers try to beat the rush at the airport

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chuitakis: We got airline earnings this morning from Continental. And yesterday from Delta and United. Not good -- all three are losing money, first class seats down big time. Although the three say they're not losing as much money as they had. Delta says it could eventually be profitable this year. AirTran this morning said it made a little money as well. We're expecting Boeing to check in next hour.

Cue the story about regional airports, and how when airlines are hitting turbulence, the smaller landing pads are getting bypassed. From Oregon Public Broadcasting, here's Mitchell Hartman.


Mitchell Hartman: Fewer people are flying for business and pleasure these days. So airlines are parking planes and cutting back on routes that aren't profitable.

University of Portland economist Richard Gritta:

Richard Gritta: What's happening with airports is they're getting hammered.

Mid-sized regional airports have been hit hardest. Airlines have canceled nonstop flights to hub cities and vacation destinations, or pulled out altogether. Cincinnati's domestic traffic is down 25 percent this year. Places like San Antonio, Hartford, and Fort Lauderdale are also seeing big declines.

And that hurts the bottom line. For one thing, airports lose landing fees. Plus, says Gritta, with their retail concourses, airports have become shopping malls.

Gritta: And when you have less people flying, you have less people in the malls, buying less food, buying less other stuff.

Gritta predicts the pain will continue for some time. First, consumers need to start flying again. Then they might start buying.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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