BOISE -- Summer vacation kicks off at the end of May, and that means you and your family might be looking to book a flight to your vacation destination of choice.
However, some may have noticed that air travel from Boise has become increasingly difficult.
Boise's airport director and the Boise City Council are trying to understand why. The goal is to work together to predict where air travel in Boise is headed.
AIR TRAFFIC DECLINES
In 2007, the Boise Airport was serviced by 8 airlines with 21 non-stop destinations. Now, BOI has 6 airlines with 16 non-stop destinations. Airport Director Rebecca Hupp says things aren't as bleak as those numbers might suggest.
"The airline industry has gone through tremendous changes over the last five to seven years," said Hupp.
She says the changes have been felt at the Boise Airport partly because the Federal Aviation Administration defines Boise as a "small hub."
From 2007 to 2012 federal statistics indicate small hubs saw a decrease of about 18 percent. Hupp says the Boise Airport saw a decrease of more than 30 percent. Furthermore she said the increase in fuel prices was a big factor in that decrease.
FUEL COSTS CONTRIBUTE
"Fuel is an airline's single greatest cost," said Hupp. "That, of course, led into the recession. And air service, like every other industry, was hit particularly hard at that time, and I think perhaps even more so just because of the reliance on fuel."
However, Hupp said Boise's air service story is a positive one.
"There are many, many smaller communities that are in the shadow of a larger airport that have lost significantly more traffic," said Hupp. "I think that those are the ones that are going to really struggle to maintain air service moving forward."
A map that Hupp showed at the city council meeting reveals the lack of non-stops from Boise to the South and Northeast. Hupp said their Air Service Incentive Program is aimed at trying to bring new flights or new carriers.
"I think that there is opportunity to grow and expand, and I think we will see incremental increases," said Hupp.
Hupp also said the best way to get more flights is to use the ones we already have more, and that new destinations are at least a year out.
At Tuesday's meeting, she mentioned Dallas-Fort Worth and San Diego as possibilities.
Load factor, or how full an airplane is, is another big factor. Long haul flights, like Boise to Atlanta, used to be profitable at 60 or 65 percent. Now those same flights have to be 80 percent full to make a profit according to Hupp.