The Boeing effect
Charleston just got on the global map; the airport is experiencing a boom, like few others
There are worse things then having Boeing and Southwest Airlines dropped on your lap ...
Which is essentially what Sue Stevens at Charleston International is experiencing (this issue’s cover story). In tough economic times, any good news is great news.
Look at Barry Bateman at Milwaukee. While the rest of the commercial airline business is static at best, MKE continues to set records. Enter the Republic/Frontier effect. Interesting thing is, for years Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International has marketed itself heavily to the northern tier of the Chicago market. A change in the airline business boosted the effort — evidence, one suspects, of the overriding impact airlines can have on a community.
As can manufacturers, like Boeing. Look what’s going on in Charleston — as in South Carolina. Boeing is readying a complex to construct Dreamliner 787s.
Says Stevens, director of airports for the Charleston County Airport Authority, “Their construction is phenomenal. They’ve gone from a greenfield site with trees and undulations remaining from the old phosphate mines — four to six feet deep. They have moved almost three million cubic yards of dirt.
“They made the decision the end of October 2009; by November 26 they had cleared all the trees.”
Boeing was already constructing portions of the 787 fuselage in Charleston at Vought Industries, which it subsequently acquired. What Boeing has done at Charleston is nothing short of impressive.
Then there’s the Southwest Effect — the airline recently connected Charleston into its network via seven daily flights. It’s causing the airport to accelerate terminal renovation plans.
Now that Southwest is plugging Charleston into its U.S. network, and with Boeing bringing the international community to the region, a logical question for Sue Stevens is, What point of the sky is the limit?
Her answer: “If Ryanair called tomorrow, we could make it happen.”
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On page 26, Dan Bucaro, president & CEO of Landmark Aviation talk about FBO acquistions. An interesting discussion — after all, the market has changed.
And with those changes comes the reality that airports need to be self-sufficient; and yet, their tenants need to make money in a down economy. Consultant Michael Hodges [page 23] offers his insights into how airports and tenants are coping with the reality of a dramatic economic downturn. It’s an interesting challenge going on in the industry right now.
Thanks for reading.
What Boeing has done at Charleston is nothing short of impressive.