Madison Airport “Leaking Passengers”

I’ve written a bit about Madison’s air service. Marv Balousek writes today about Madison “leaking” passengers to Milwaukee and Chicago. Leaking means passengers driving to other airports in an effort to obain lower fares. Airport Director Brad Livingston cited one example, Orlando:
115,142 people flew to Orlando, Fla., last year from the Dane County Airport’s market area, just 59,024 or 51.3 percent flew from the Madison airport. Orlando was the airport’s most popular destination.
This is not a big surprise. Visit to and search a number of city pairs from Madison to Orlando, Austin, San Francisco, Boise, Denver and other major markets.
In some cases, fares are attractive from Madison, others they are not. (Madison to Minneapolis is a great example): on June 2, 2004 a typical business roundtrip (fly up at 7:00a.m. and return around 6:00p.m.> Northwest has a nonstop fare of $403 plus taxes and fees. Interestingly, on the same day, Southwest flies from Dallas to Houston (a similar distance) for a roundtrip fare of $197.20 (planning ahead will save money).
There are a couple of reasons for this discrepency: Northwest has no competition on Madison-Minneapolis flights; while Southwest does from Dallas to Houston. There’s also a philosophical difference between Northwest’s business approach (charge the highest prices possible) and Southwest’s (let’s grow traffic by charging low, friendly fares).
Finally, the only time major airlines reduce fares and increase frequency is when they are faced with low fare competition.
Southwest is the only game changer for Madison…