Ok folks, I am back from Pittsburgh ready to report on my trip. First, the Hilton Downtown is an utter mess. Literally every floor is under construction. Elizabeth wondered why the front desk staff didn't issue a respirator to every gust upon check-in. That would have certainly helped minimize the dust in my lungs upon checkout.
Anyway, the rest of the conference was wonderful. We were able to hook up with 12 airlines and chat up CAK and Cleveland+. I got a little good news too! AirTran Airways is bringing back our 3rd New York LaGuardia round trip flight in August. Plus, they are adding a second Saturday frequency to Orlando starting in September. Yippee!!!!
The Ohio Airports also worked together to showcase our beautiful state. We hosted a breakfast for airlines (omelet station and all) and we had 14 rsvps. It was really a great way to get our airline partners to "Think Ohio First!"
I also found out that Network 2009 is not going to be at the DFW Airport after all! Boy, was that welcome news. I hang at an airport all day...I don't need to hang at theirs too (though I am sure it is very nice). Instead, we will be at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in Ft. Worth. Whew!
My sense in the wake of the conference buzz is that the US domestic aviation market is going to survive...but that it will be smaller and fares will be higher especially if oil continues to climb. There are going to be winners and losers (airlines and airports). We hope and will work extremely hard to be winners.
We will stay focused on the fundamentals: low costs, excellent customer service, building brand equity, and looking for windows of opportunity.
On a final note, Kevin Mitchell and team recently painted a "doom and gloom" picture regarding the potential impacts of soaring fuel prices on the airline industry. If everything they predict were to indeed happen, it would be a sorry state of affairs indeed. In his report, Mitchell listed CAK as one of 150 airports that could be significantly impacted by the current fuel crisis. Apparently, he hasn't talked to any of our airline partners. They tell me a very different story...and though I don't think CAK will be totally "flight reduction free", I think we are going to survive just fine, thank you very much.