Airport Posts Another Gain In Passengers For January
The passenger numbers are up locally and the fuel prices are down nationally.
But don't expect airline ticket prices to go anywhere.
The Casper-Natrona County International Airport reported 7,945 people got on planes in January, up 7.8 percent from January 2014, Glenn Januska said.
The first few months of last year were down from the same time in 2013 because Allegiant Airlines withdrew its flights to Mesa, Ariz., in the summer of 2013, Januska said.
"United and Delta have really picked up those passengers that were the Mesa passengers two years ago, and they filled in those seats with additional passengers," he said.
That bodes well for airport business, he said.
The number of passengers for all of 2014 was up 5 percent from all of 2013, Januska said. "Then you start off this year with a 7.8 percent increase in the first month, that's a very positive, very strong number."
Januska doesn't know if a downturn in local passenger business is coming because of the drastic drop in oil prices and its effect on an energy industry-dependent area economy.
Nationally, the drop in oil prices has been great, because the $40 or $50 a month people save at the pump turns into more disposable income including more money for travel, he said.
The drop in fuel prices also means airlines are saving a bundle.
But that won't translate into cheaper tickets in central Wyoming or elsewhere, Januska said.
"Airline fares are not a function of cost," he said. "Airline fares are a function of supply and demand."
Until recently, a greater demand for air travel would prompt airlines to offer more flights. That increase in seating capacity also lead to lower prices, Januska said.
No longer. And you see that when you're shoehorned into increasingly crowded planes.
The airlines have exercised discipline over the past few years to not expand their supply of seating capacity even when demand has gone up, he said. "They said, 'you know what? We're not going to add a lot of capacity. ... That means more passengers are flying on the same number of planes, and we can charge people more money.'"
Prices won't necessarily go up or down, Januska
But airlines won't be adding more seating capacity, even if demand rises, he said.
"And I don't think that's a function that's going to mean anything in terms of lower airline ticket prices, no matter how much it may frustrate consumers, Januska said. "And it will frustrate consumers."