Airport reviews

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May 14th, 2014 at 10:50:22 AM permalink
Wizard
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Quote: Nareed
So if anyone wants to post their own reviews, by all means go ahead.


I'd be interested to see more best/worst lists. I provided my own earlier in the thread.
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May 17th, 2014 at 5:54:39 AM permalink
Nareed
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One more. A very quick one. Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, Mexico:

This airport is a bit of a paradox. The route Mex City to Cd. del Carmen is in high demand, yet there are only a handful of daily flights and the terminal is tiny. BTW Ciuda del Carmen ought not to be confused with Playa del Carmen.

Ok. Cd. del Carmen (Carmen from now on) is Mexico's oil capital. PEMEX, the state oil company and sole exploiter of oil in the country (though that will change soon), gets most of its crude from oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. They're administered and supplied from Carmen (we have a contract for such supply), and many of the people who work on them live in Carmen.

So many people fly there on business. Many others, too, actually live in Mex City and work in Carmen, so they fly back home for the weekend. Thus the high demand. Yet there are a maximum of six flights per day, all in planes for ~150 passengers. Plus there is at least one occasional flight to Houston operated by United.

The airport is by the Gulf shore, just past a small shopping mall. When you drive up to it you notice two things at one: 1) the small mall is bigger than the airport terminal, 2) it looks more like a non-descript building than an airport. Inside there are three check-in counters for Interjet, Aeromexico and United, two cab ticket stands, two car rental booths, one currency exchange, three tiny shops (souvenirs/travel items and snacks in all 3) and three restaurants (actually two, as one has no kitchen and gets the food from the one at the other end of the airport). The whole thing is probably under 30 meters long.

There is one baggage claim area, and two departure gates. One for domestic flights and one for the international flight. They are connected and there is one incredibly small bar inside. The gates are connected because either one is too small to fit many people.

Now, though there is only one runway and one hangar for planes, the place also handles civil aviation, including a large number of helicopters owned and leased by PEMEX and used for flights to the off-shore rigs. These take up much more room than the plane area, and also have more hangars and support facilities.

Just about everyone I spoke to told me there aren't enough flights. Getting a ticket is not always easy and all flights are packed. I left Mex City at 6:15 am, and this flight had three empty seats (I overheard the flight attendant report that to the cockpit). One was next to me, fortunately. On the flight back there were no empty seats at all. I was told some people take the bus to Campeche or Villahermosa, Tabasco, in order to catch flights from there. These places have even less flights to Mex City, but are far less in demand.

Now, one reason there aren't more flights is that there are exactly three parking places for planes and only one real departure gate. If two planes should happen to be there at once, the airport simply can't handle them. I've been told of snarls when the Aeromexico 4:30 PM flight is delayed and clashes with the Interjet 5:20 PM one. They have to board one at a time.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
May 19th, 2014 at 11:51:48 AM permalink
Nareed
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Addendum to the Mex City airport:

Last Friday I flew aeromexico on the way out and INterjet on the way in. I parked at T2, from which the flight departed. Interjet, though arrives at T1. Now, usually you're allowed to use the inter-terminal train only if you have a valid boarding pass for that terminal. I bet they don't really check much, so I took my spare baording pass from the morning flight and was allowed through after a very hasty inspection.

The train is a small monorail, very much like the one that runs between the Bellagio and City Center in Vegas (and just about as awkwardly located). There are benches at either end and handrails and poles in the center. The one-way trip takes a bit over 5 minutes, which is rather long considering the distances involved.

There are small waiting areas at both terminals. A sign above the doors at the terminals lets you know the ETA. When I arrived it indicated 10:45 minutes, which is consistent with the train having just left. You get a good view of the gate and runway area of borth terminals (as well as of the back of the parking garage in T1), but at night the interior lights are on and the glare prevents one from seeing much.

What I should do on future trips is aprk at the terminal where the return flight will be arriving, and then use the train with a really valid boarding pass. However, this takes logner as you need to allow time to walk to the train and wait for it to arrive. Also pray there are no malfunctions which may leave you stranded midway (unlikely, but it has happened). The point of printing the baording pass online and not documenting luggage, after all, is to be able to arrive later at the airport. most times I allow one hour prior to departure, which is about 30-40 minutes prior to boarding. That's plenty of time.

Failing the train, there is a bus available for a ridiculously low fee, or one can take a cab for a ridiculously high fee. There is no other complimentary transportation.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
June 6th, 2014 at 8:15:54 AM permalink
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Quote: Pacomartin
If all those widebodies are based in Mexico City they will easily carry 6-8 million passengers per year.

Currently, half of AICM's domestic traffic on narrowbody jets are going to these five airports. That fact is not likely to change.


In addition to what I've already said about this, in fact even smaller planes are being used more for domestic routes. Aeromexico's "subdisidiary" Aeromexico Connect, is made up largely of small and smaller Embraer jets. Interjet, which operated the A-320 exclusively for years, added the smaller Russian-built Superjet for some new routes.

This kind of reflects trends in the US, only about an order of magnitude smaller. That is, more but smaller planes that allow you to increase routes and schedules more easily.

Buses, though, are getting larger. I haven't taken one in years, but am told some companies are adding double-deckers on both short and long popular routes. Of course there are inherent design constraints for buses that don't apply to aircraft.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
June 6th, 2014 at 9:28:16 AM permalink
Pacomartin
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Quote: Nareed
This kind of reflects trends in the US, only about an order of magnitude smaller. That is, more but smaller planes that allow you to increase routes and schedules more easily..


United uses CRJ700s (70 PASSENGERS for its St Paul Intl, Minneapolis, MN (MSP) - LAX route, nonstop at 1534 miles. Also on October 14, 2014 the slightly longer route (1590 miles) will be turned over to regional jets: MSP-SFO

There is no question that it gives the airlines more flexibility, but the toll on infrastructure is huge. LAX is obviously an overtaxed airport, and to be using such small jets to a mid-size airport like MSP over that distance is pretty extreme.

Airports like La Guardia and National end up with slot controls.
June 6th, 2014 at 10:24:42 AM permalink
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Quote: Pacomartin
There is no question that it gives the airlines more flexibility, but the toll on infrastructure is huge. LAX is obviously an overtaxed airport, and to be using such small jets to a mid-size airport like MSP over that distance is pretty extreme.


The option is to use nearby airports, in particular for the smaller flights. Voalris flies to orange County, CA, not to LAX.

Using bigger planes probably can't work well for most routes. When I travel on business it's usually for the day only. I appreciate having choices on the return flight. Aeromexico could run just one flight to, say Carmen instead of 3. Say they could run a single 767 or 777 to replace 3 737s. Surely. But how would that work? Very likely they'd head out to Carmen at 6 am, as their first flight does now, and return at 7 pm or later. This would inconvenience a lot of people.

Some routes use small planes because only a few people make the journey at all. Think of the really small airlines flying from small towns to big cities, for example. A wide-body would probably acommodate the whole town ;)
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
June 6th, 2014 at 4:53:30 PM permalink
Pacomartin
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The use of regional jets to serve small markets was one of their original intents. There is no question that they are invaluable for that use. Unfortunately in the USA that is becoming a minor use of the planes.

Customers want lots of flexibility in return times. In particular business customers would like to be able to stay late at a meeting without having to spend the night.

The point is that each small plane takes just as long to land as a big plane. In addition you have to increase the time between landings because smaller planes are more susceptible to wake from a larger jet.

In the USA the smaller jets are contracted by the larger airlines. It makes it easier for them to downsize quickly because it is a question of not renewing a contract, not reducing labor staff.

The FAA has made it into law that nothing is illegal. The airlines are free to choose any size jet they want. You can land a private jet at JFK if you want. But the local airport boards still have to handle that capacity.

Alternative airports are not always an option in very crowded airspace like Southern California. Orange County airport is at full capacity right now. Sometimes airport authorities charge for a landing slot instead of the more traditional charge by the pound. Charging by the pound doesn't discourage small jets.

-------------------------
It's a mini version of the global air business discussion
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Currently the A380's on Lufthansa to Houston and Miami have the most number of seats of any jet that landed in USA in November 2013 (last month available on FAA database)
8 flat bed seats
98 angle-flat seats
420 standard seats
536 total seats
Air France has slightly smaller 526 seats in their configuration.

There is discussion about adding an additional 30 seats into economy class by putting some rows 11 seats across instead of 10

US Flag carriers have 376 seats in their largest configuration (Delta 747) JFK to Tokyo. There has been no solid interest in US flag carriers in acquiring an A380. There is close to 400,000 people a month flying in either direction from the two NYC airports to London Heathrow.




Airships may be the wave of the future. Perhaps not as large as the one pictures. But they may be able to land somewhere that doesn't require a runway, so it can be possible to reserve the airport for more important aircraft. They will probably never go above 200 miles per hour, so if they are big enough they could take a leisurely route from Mexico city to the smaller cities a few hundred miles away. It would be a slow way to travel, but it would still be faster than buses, and it would take some of the pressure off AICM.

I think they could pick people up in the parking lot at Anaheim stadium where the trains converge. You could then drive it to Las Vegas about 220 miles away. Once again it might be easier than building a train through the mountains, and would take the pressure off the crowded airports.
July 15th, 2014 at 2:40:33 AM permalink
Pacomartin
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From what I can see Interjet retains a slight advantage over Volaris for number of Mexican domestic passengers (2.2%). But it looks like Volaris is taking a firm lead as to the number of flights to the USA.

Volaris Destinations 15 US cities
Interjet Destinations 5 US cities
Vivaaerobus Destinations 1 US city (Houston)
Aeromexico Destinations 18 US cities

In August 2014, Southwest will begin flights to Mexico with service to Cancun and San Jose del Cabo. The initial focus will be on converting specific existing AirTran destinations to Southwest service by the end of 2014.

Volaris is still far behind the number of passengers that US airlines bring to Mexico. Not just the big three (1) AA/US merger, (2) United and (3) Delta but also Alaska Air.
July 28th, 2014 at 3:52:06 AM permalink
Pacomartin
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Quote: Nareed
Distance, too, is a consideration. Fact is Mexico is a much smaller country then America and Canada, and travel to the farthest points is not frequent.


Vivaairbus has begun replacing it's aging Boeing 737-300's with Airbus A320. They will be turned back to their lessors, and it is possible that Magnicharters will pick up some of them to expand their domestic resort business. Magnicharters has only 7 aging Boeing 737-300's

The three reduced price airlines are now operating 94 Airbus jets between them. Since 7 airlines have gone bankrupt in Mexico in 7 years, the concentration on one type of plane may make mergers in the future possible.

Airbus Jets
Interjet 43
Volaris 48
Vivaaerobus 3 (retire 14 B737-300)

Aeromexico has an all Boeing fleet.

The three airlines have 158 new Airbus jets on order in the next three years. As there is limited possibilities for domestic growth. Volaris has six routes from LAX to various destinations in Mexico. Alaska Air (based in Seattle) has eight different routes from Los Angeles to Mexico.

In general the overwhelming share of the US-Mexico routes are dominated by US airlines.
July 28th, 2014 at 9:10:20 AM permalink
Nareed
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Quote: Pacomartin
The three reduced price airlines are now operating 94 Airbus jets between them. Since 7 airlines have gone bankrupt in Mexico in 7 years, the concentration on one type of plane may make mergers in the future possible.


I hope there are no mergers. Prices would eventually go up. Prices went up when Mexicana went bust.

Quote:
In general the overwhelming share of the US-Mexico routes are dominated by US airlines.


Curious that I've travelled to three destinations over th aspt eight years and always on a Mexican carrier: Orlando via Aeromexico (though the ticket was bought through Delta), Vegas via Mexicana (RIP) twice, Voalris once and Interjet twice, and Houston also via Aeromexico.

I just dind0t find any good alternatives. All flights with US carriers involved at least one connection, exccept the one to Houston. That one was about 50% more expensive with United (Continental??)

BTW I was under the impression Viva also flies to Vegas and Austin, TX.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
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