By Christine Cusatis, Centerlines editor
William S. Swelbar provided a glimpse into the future Tuesday when he reviewed findings from the Trends and Market Forces Shaping Small Community Air Service in the United States white paper, part of the the MIT Small Community Air Service White Paper series.
Swelbar and Michael D. Wittman, both of the MIT International Center for Air Transportation, collaboratively analyzed 462 U.S. airports to reveal past, present and future trends in small community air service.
According to Swelbar, the challenges of the past six years, including economic turnoil, high fuel prices and capacity disciple strategies by airlines, have led to a reduction in flights. He also pointed out a clear trend toward consolidation of service at the largest airports in the nation.
If current trends continue, smaller airports will likely “continue to go quiet, but not dark,” Swelbar said. He also indicated that small community air service will not revert to higher levels seen in the past.
“This is the new normal,” he said.
The second paper in the series will be released mid-June. To download a copy of the whitepaper, visit http://web.mit.edu/aeroastro/labs/icat