Airlines Commit Larger Aircraft, More Seats For TVC Travelers

Cherry Capital Airport (TVC) experienced 5.1 percent growth in 2014, and all indications show the regional airport in a positive growth pattern again this year. Cherry Capital Airport has flown past Lansing and is now ranked fourth among all Michigan airports in total passengers – following Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint. Total operations of Cherry Capital Airport have also grown by 3.4 percent inbound and outbound on all flight activity. Total cargo movement through TVC experienced an increase of 3.9 percent; and refueling at TVC was up 13.1 percent.

Both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines recently committed to loading larger aircraft in the upcoming months, bringing passenger counts upward again this year. American Airlines added flights inbound and outbound, via Chicago in 2014, and again for the first quarter of 2015; this means more seats and more competition.

The Delta team has also announced it will return to its summer schedule of servicing Atlanta, New York LaGuardia and Minneapolis – along with the daily service to Detroit. United will again fly its non-stop schedules to Newark, Denver and Chicago; while American Airlines will serve Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, connecting passengers to destinations around the world.

Again this summer, Delta Air Lines will be utilizing its mainline aircraft, a B 717 which offer 110 seats; an A 319 which is equipped with 124 seats; and an A 320 which will serve 148 passengers. These aircraft continue to provide better opportunities for all travelers and will be an asset for groups attracted to our festivals and events. By offering the two classes of product on many of the routes served in our market, Delta is providing what our travelers have asked for.

Cherry Capital Airport is proud to partner with local tourism groups on target marketing of the tremendous assets of the region. Two very important relationships are included currently – Traverse City Tourism and the Gaylord Golf Mecca. These relationships have created a focus on our summer inbound fly markets such as New York, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco and Denver. Our regional airport has invested approximately $250,000 in these co-operative relationships over the last two years. To date, we have garnered a $1,000,000 return on investment – a 4 to 1 value.  This is a Pure Michigan success. Our community continues to see the economic benefit of summer flying on a year-round basis, as we see an increase in flying about three times over winter flying which translates into an easy message: as our summer is successful, our winter travel opportunities continue to see growth.

Our region’s population continues to be critical to this discussion of more seats and better fares. Population drives seats within each market and when airlines are selecting the cities to serve they want to maximize their profits just as any successful business model, so they look to the cities that offer a return on their investment. That is why you see growth in TVC while other communities continue to struggle with growing or even maintaining the same level of air service. Airlines set air fares to generate the best return on investment and will continue to drive products and services that produce the best return on their investment – making our market attractive. Our TVC travelers are those focused on high-end leisure, international, and business travel to worldwide destinations.

We are eager to continue to work with our northern Michigan communities and airlines to attract additional services.

Kevin C. Klein is the director of Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City.