July 23, 2012

Great Comment

JetBlue have and continue to invest a lot of money into initial and continuing certification of aircraft and crew for Autoland capability. The only reason for that expenditure is to prevent poor weather at one of their destinations causing a delay and backing up the rest of their schedule.

If you look at the portfolio of airports JetBlue uses, the vast majority are Cat III ILS equipped (those which are not tend to be in areas where the weather is historically less of an issue). Asking JetBlue to use (an often weather bound) ORH without Cat III ILS capability is in a nutshell asking JetBlue to voluntarily accept a weak link in their chain. I'm pretty sure that will remain a deal breaker.

As owners of multiple airports, Massport does have a little leverage (and if I was betting this would be how I'd place my chips) to apply here however. They could as a temporary measure make a commitment to installing Cat III ILS at ORH (this is not only expensive but time consuming). While the installation and commissioning work is progressing invite JetBlue to use ORH with a promise that in Cat II / III conditions they could divert to Logan with all additional transport and logistics costs (moving waiting and arriving passengers etc) assumed by Massport.

If the vision for ORH is truly to grow into a prosperous regional airport then installation of Cat III ILS is inevitable. All Tier 1 carriers are moving this way and are being actively encouraged to do so by the Federal Aviation Administration (this is why there is talk of the FAA shouldering some of the bill for Cat III installation at ORH). Until then, the stark reality is that without Cat III ILS I can't imagine any of the large carriers rolling the dice at ORH when there are other surer bets close by.


Jahn said...

What makes no sense to me is why MP hasnt installed this landing system at least 2 years ago when they took over. They had to have known about the airports limitations after leasing the place for 8 years.

I just do not see money being a limiting factor for MP. Why should the FAA have to pay for equipment for a qausi govt entity like MP? They run a monopoly in Boston. Money s/b no object, ESPECIALLY given what they spend on labor at Worcester airport and Massport.

All of a sudden MP wakes up and realize they need a newer hi tech landing system to get any real comm. air carriers to Worc?

Additionally, TF Greene has just grabbed any possible market that Jet Blue has to the south of Worc.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to MP, when they took over I doubt their main priority was Tier 1 carriers. I suspect they had a short term eye on carriers like Allegiant and other similar companies who won't require Cat III ILS. (You can get a sense of this if you compare the Orlando area where there is a similar setup to the BOS - ORH relationship with Orlando International (MCO) and Orlando Sanford (SFB). Allegiant, like DA did, use SFB in preference to MCO but only MCO has Cat III ILS and that says Cat III ILS is not a priority for Allegiant or DA). From MP's perspective, if Cat III ILS wasn't a priority for the carriers they were initially targeting then why go to the upfront expense of Cat III ILS installation?

Things of course change now that there is an interested Tier 1 carrier. Time will tell but as I wrote previously, Cat III ILS is inevitable if MP decide Tier 1 carriers are who they want to go after. As with much in life, it is very much a chicken or the egg situation.

In terms of paying for a Cat III ILS system, the FAA will pay a share of the cost as part of their overall effort to modernize and improve the domestic ATC system much more than money being a limiting factor for MP. Even if MP wanted to go it alone there is a limit to what they could achieve anyhow; pretty much they could only install the system - the FAA have to be involved in all the follow on actions (the commissioning, certification and definition / publishing of procedures to use the system).

I'm pretty new to the blog but as a pilot who used to fly in and out of ORH I can tell you that MP have more to be commended for than criticized. The general facility and recent improvements are very impressive and set ORH apart from a lot of other facilities serving similar geographic areas. The very fact that JB are interested enough to repeatedly visit should be a strong indication of that and MP has to be credited for placing ORH in that situation.

As for loosing market to PVD, I am not sure it works out like that. If JB come to ORH they will offer service that compliments more than overlaps the destinations served from PVD and BOS. As a company they are well enough run that we can be confident they'll only offer overlapping destinations if they are confident there is the capacity to support that. I think a Florida destination is a strong possibility but I'd be looking west as much as south (just my thoughts, no affiliation or inside knowledge!).

jose said...

lets be honest here everyone. the airline industry is getting slaughtered here with high taxes and high price of fuel. at the hight of its glory days orh had 4 airlines and 350,000 passengers a year. what happened? i remember when a ticket to portugal cost $500 a person in the early 90's, and today is atleast 1,000 a person with sata out of boston. if fuel and taxes werent so high im sure a 80% average filled plane is good for a small market. and im sure sept. 11 2001 still scares alot of people from flying. like i have been saying for months on this blog, orh doesnt need to compete against hartford, manchester, providence, or boston for flights in the airport triangle, but provide leisure flights for weekend getaways.

jose said...


forgot to post this on my last comment. this is from 2010. a breakdown of the cost of tickets.

Jahn said...

Anonymous, thank you for an informative piece. Do you really think that when MP took over (2010) that they were targeting Allegiant, given A's rather abrupt separation from Worc Airport and the bad vibes that were in the air?

Is there really an interested Tier 1 carrier or is JB getting force fed ORH?

West? Chitown?

Bill Randell said...


I have been saying the same thing.... Leisure flights !!!! Convenience!!! Short lines!!!

JetBlue can charge extra for these flights out of ORH and sell out plan. I hire a limo to pick my mother in law up in Boston when she flied in four times a year.

It costs me 100+ plus each time. Daily flights to a hub in Atlanta-Philly or wherever is not going to happen at ORH. If anything maybe JetBlue to JFK???

ORH will be know as the retiree-leaisure-golf-cruise-Caribbean airport, which is friggin fine


Anonymous said...

You are most welcome Jahn.

To be clear, I don't think MP were specifically targeting Allegiant when they took over but I do think MP was targeting carriers in the same division. I was using Allegiant as an illustrative example more than a direct target of MP.

As for JetBlue being force fed ORH, I think as supporters of ORH you are in somewhat of a fortunate position here. Think for a moment of the contribution JetBlue makes to KBOS operations. JetBlue is the most important part of MP's current operating plan, and as such it is a hard sell to me to believe that MP is trying to dictate terms of any agreement or use of any airport to JetBlue, the leverage is mostly for JetBlue to apply. If you see Dave Barger walking around the terminal at ORH in the future I am 99% sure it is because he wants to; what MP wants is, I'm sure, pretty far down his list. Take that one step further, JetBlue have now sent a message to MP that PVD is capable of accommodating all their aircraft fleet with huge passenger expansion capacity - I'd like to be a fly on the wall during a meeting where MP try to convince JetBlue to do anything they don't want to!

That JetBlue are continuing to express an interest in ORH should give you a lot of confidence, the caveat is that making ORH suitable for a carrier such as JetBlue is a prolonged process with a larger number of players involved than are superficially obvious. If you want a carrier in the very short term then JetBlue is probably not the answer, it'll take longer than that I'm afraid. Aviation is a pretty complicated business, much more so than is sometimes seen from the ground.....

MSWOMer said...

Anonymous, from what I've read, JetBlue's intentions have been clear from day 1. We always knew they were going to Providence, there are plenty of articles about ORH and PVD where Barger talks about how much they like Providence's capabilities and that they plan on expanding to PVD but are still thinking about ORH (in the distant future due to some drawbacks that needed work) as MassPort put it on their mind.

It has also been shown that JetBlue wants all of Terminal A in Logan for themselves. If I had to make an uneducated guess, MassPort is leveraging that (or possibly something else) to JetBlue to get them to move into ORH. I think that MassPort is holding something over JetBlue's head to get them into ORH, otherwise I doubt they would have ever even looked at it as they already operate in the entire surrounding area.

However, you are correct. JetBlue is not stupid. While I'm sure this is all MassPort's doing, JetBlue is not about to move into a place that isn't beneficial/profitable to them. They won't make a poor business decision to make MassPort happy. MassPort may be throwing incentives at them, but ORH has clearly proven itself to be worth the risk to JetBlue. There is something about ORH that Barger thought was good enough to invest in. That's something to be proud of. Once there is a consistent carrier in Worcester, hopefully others will follow. It's all very interesting and I'll continue to follow it. Worcester Airport has always piqued my curiosity, plus I have a vested interest in the airport.