A few days ago, I posted a commentary on a so-called “study” published by the Business Travel Coalition (BTC). This “study” claimed to identify dozens of communities at risk of losing most or all of their air service. Naturally, the results of this “study” were sent out to those communities.
I have received a large number of comments. Some, including one from BTC, were in the form of comments left on the blog. Others were made directly to me; many from the directors of the airports named. Not all of those are printable.
A couple of directors, at least, have written BTC demanding to know the research methods and data used to reach their conclusions. I suspect they will not get an answer since no real research was done.
BTC’s answer to my commentary says that it was necessary to do something “blunt and direct” to get Congress’s attention about the impact of the fuel crisis. As if they have no idea. BTC incredibly goes on to take credit for the attention the fuel crisis is now getting. Perhaps the next release will be a detailed “study” on the daily rising of the sun
BTC states that it wants to keep and expand air service and I take them at their word. Unfortunately, what they have done is having the opposite effect. It is discouraging and distracting. People read stories based on this “study” and are less likely to travel, and perhaps less likely to believe they will have an airport. It is not forcing them to write their congressman, it is discouraging them from traveling.
Airport directors and their staffs are intensely focused on keeping and expanding service. They are doing all they can for their communities. Indeed, on the very day this “study” was released, hundreds of them were in Pittsburgh meeting with a number of airlines (800 meetings in all) at ACI-NA’s JumpStart Air Service Development event. I was there. The mood was one of realism, to be sure, but also one of determination to meet the challenge. In a way, this event was scheduled at the perfect time, as it has never been more important for airports and airlines to work together. In my three years in this job, I have rarely been so proud to be a part of this industry as I was last week. Yet, the release of this so-called “study” has eaten up the time of many of those participating in those meetings as they answer media and constituent (yes, airport directors have constituents — another word for them is customers, yet another is neighbors) questions generated by the BTC release.
But, BTC says in its post that “in retrospect” they regret not having alerted airport directors. Some comfort.
To recap: The BTC “study” is based on no real analysis. It was done, by their own admission, in a sort of blunt, crude way to get the attention of people already aware that we have a crisis. It was done with a stated intent to aid the expansion of air service; yet has distracted communities, companies and people who would prefer to put their entire energies into promoting air service to the point that it is actually a barrier to achieving BTC’s stated goal. They said they wanted to “catalyze action.” They have succeeded in exactly the opposite.