DID YOU KNOW?
The iflymontgomery campaign was launched in May after the airport was seeing double-digit declines in the number of passengers boarding a flight.
There had been a 13 percent decline during the month of May alone. The number of passengers boarding a flight rose 2 percent in July and 4 percent in September.
"We are a small community airport, but we have big airport facilities and services that enable passengers to get to their destination with a lot more ease."
MONTGOMERY REGIONAL AIRPORT
Montgomery Regional Airport courts new routes, carriers
by David Zaslawsky
While some airlines are pulling out of airports or reducing their number of flights, American Eagle recently announced it was adding a third flight out of Montgomery Regional Airport.
That announcement did not go unnoticed in the struggling airline industry. Some air carriers have put Montgomery Regional Airport on their radar.
“They (airlines) will take a look at our market and see that the community responded to these flights – there was demand for it,” said Lynn Cox, marketing director for the Montgomery Regional Airport. “We’re looking at marketing directly to them.
Cox said the Montgomery Regional Airport Authority hired a consultant to obtain a grant from the government’s Small Community Air Service Development program. That grant would give the airport money for an incentive package to attract a new flight, Cox said. She said that the goal is to add a direct flight to Chicago with either American Airlines or United Airlines.
Airport officials are also talking to low-cost carrier Allegiant Air about flights to Orlando or Las Vegas. “We have reached out to them, but there is no indication of any deal,” Cox stressed.
She attended a May conference, where she sat down with various airlines for 10- to 15-minute sessions – the travel industry’s version of speed dating.
Currently, Delta, through its Atlantic Southeast Airlines group, flies from Montgomery to Atlanta; Northwest flies to Memphis, Tenn.; US Airways flies to Charlotte, N.C.; American Eagle is adding a third daily flight to Dallas/Fort Worth in April. Cox said that the 50-seat passenger America Eagle jets to Dallas were 80 percent full and “overbooked a lot of days.” She said the airline is looking at using a 70-seat jet.
“Airlines will look and see what we are doing to generate customer support throughout the community,” Cox said. “They also look at the demographics of the community as well as how the community responds to what we are doing.”
The community’s response to the airport’s rebranding campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Cox.
“I wanted to raise the level of awareness and the public’s perception about Montgomery Regional Airport as far as being a viable airport,” Cox said. “We are a small community airport, but we have big airport facilities and services that enable passengers to get to their destination with a lot more ease.”
Cox said a survey was conducted before the new campaign and “everybody says it’s so easy” getting in and out of the airport.
It’s so easy has morphed into the new slogan “Easy going.” The airport is spending nearly $70,000 on its rebranding/marketing campaign, which includes print ads, television ads and radio spots as well as billboards, a new logo and redesigned Web site.
During a 30-second spot on TV, viewers hear about the airport’s advantages, including shorter drive, easy parking, quick check-in, less-stressful travel, more time for yourself, arriving at your destination well rested, returning from your trip much closer to home and “all for little or no price difference.”
Cox was able to expand the marketing budget by partnering with American Eagle, which began its Montgomery-to-Dallas service in mid-June. “They were branding their flights with the rebranding of the airport,” Cox said.
The iflymontgomery campaign was launched in May, after the airport was seeing double-digit declines in the number of passengers boarding a flight, including a 13 percent decline in May. But the new trend is positive. The number of passengers boarding a flight rose 2 percent in July and increased 4 percent in September.
“A lot of people have told me they decided to fly here after checking the (airfares) and they can’t believe they may find a rate that’s within a $50 difference of flying out of Atlanta,” Cox said. “It makes sense to fly from here.”