Tuesday, May 30, 2017

One year in, feedback positive for Dallas flight: Sioux Gateway Airport (KSUX), Sioux City, Iowa

SIOUX CITY | As he waited for a car to pick him up from Sioux Gateway Airport last week, Gabriel Almazan reflected on his first trip to Sioux City via the airport's Dallas connection. 

"No hiccups," he said. 

Almazan, a business development director with Oxyion Food Protection Solutions in Fresno, California, said his previous practice for his occasional business trips to Sioux City had been to fly into Eppley Airfield in Omaha, then make the 100-mile drive to Sioux City.

But American Airlines' new Dallas to Sioux City connection, added a year ago this month, proved to be a comparably priced and much more convenient alternative, he said. 

"When I come here, now I'm 10 minutes away from my meeting instead of an hour-and-a-half," Almazan said. "It's a lot more convenient."

Almazan is among the 14,000 people who have hitched a ride between Dallas to Sioux City since the once-per-day, 50-seat flight first taxied down the runway on May 5, 2016. People involved with the airport say the reception of the flight has been positive, and with more exposure, they hope it will continue to grow. 

"I think it's been a success," said Darrell Jesse, president of Sioux City's Airport Board of Trustees. "I have a hard time believing that people, once they’ve flown out from Sioux Gateway, would overlook it and keep driving to Omaha."

In the first four months of 2017, Sioux City's flights saw an overall 74 percent increase in traffic compared with the first four months of 2016 before the Dallas flight was added. 

Barbara Sloniker, executive vice president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, said those numbers not only reflect the influx of new passengers on Dallas flights, but also represent a growing interest in American's two daily flights to Chicago O'Hare International Airport. 

Sloniker said in her capacity with the Chamber, she has heard good feedback from businesses who appreciate the convenience.

"Depending on where they’re flying through the country, it’s a nice compliment," she said. "The two services (Chicago and Dallas) really compliment each other."

A review of rates on American Airlines' website for a one-way, one-passenger flight to Dallas for the week of May 29 showed prices at or under those at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport and about $85 above rates at Omaha's Eppley Airfield. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is the largest hub for Fort Worth-based American, the largest U.S. carrier.

Occupancy rates for the Dallas connection have been at 80 percent, which American views as solid for a first year, said airline spokeswoman Lakesha Brown.

"We are very, very pleased with the route," she said. 

Looking to the horizon, Sioux City airport officials have targeted the addition of more flights -- specifically a western hub such as Denver -- as a primary goal for the future.

In the flight business, supply follows demand, Sloniker said, making it important that Sioux City residents continue to use the airport to help it grow large enough to add another Dallas flight or another flight to a hub, such as Denver, Colorado.

"The more we use it, the better opportunities we have to get additional service," she said. "We can make a case for that if the plane is always full and always backed up and wanting to get on a flight."

Original article can be found here:   http://siouxcityjournal.com

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