Friday, September 27, 2019

So, why are we here?

One year ago, I quit my job as a Network Planner at Southwest Airlines. It was a job I absolutely loved, but after a year of daily commuting between Dallas and Oklahoma City, it was time to be home. I was fortunate to work throughout most of the SWA commercial organization: Marketing, Finance, and Network Planning. These positions were highly analytical and dug deep into the company's performance data using SQL, Alteryx, and Tableau. But the high degree of exposure to and understanding of airline data didn't start that way.

When I started in the industry, the economy was still climbing out of the giant crater it buried itself in, I was one year into my first professional job after college as Colorado Springs’ first air service development analyst.

In Colorado Springs at the time, it was common for carriers to cut flights. The economy was declining and there was a three way battle for supremacy in Denver, just an hour up the road. Customers flocked from all of southern Colorado to Denver for the low fares and higher frequencies. Customers demand schedule, price, and service and compared to Denver, Colorado Springs had none.

In the fall of 2009, late in the night as I was traveling somewhere on a dark stretch of I-70, my phone rang. It was my airport director; US Airways was dropping Colorado Springs from their network. We were shocked. Flights were full. Phoenix was a top O&D route out of Colorado Springs. Why would a carrier want to drop what we believed was a high performing route? This brings me to the mission of this blog.

For airport professionals and avgeeks everywhere, finding airline performance data can be difficult, expensive, and often not well understood. Through this blog, I hope to demonstrate the basic principles of airline economics and explain why I believe airlines are making route and capacity moves. I will analyze the vast availability of aviation data from the DOT, FAA, and other sources as they become available. Given the data constraints, my analysis will largely look at historical trends, as forward schedules are not published publicly in a queryable manner.

In time, the blog will also take a look at other aviation data. While initially airline focused, I hope to expand to other data sources as I get access to them. Take a look at the data sources page. If you see a data stream you think should be included in this blog, send me a message.

Finally, one last note. If you are new or still learning the airline world, please work with a consultant or get an experienced mentor within the industry. This blog will not teach you everything you need to know. A great consulting group or mentor should be willing to teach you how to analyze data, put together your condensed business case, and build the right relationships to make your airport as successful as possible.