Monday, February 8, 2016

Ashby Foote tells the rest of the story about the Jackson International Airport

In 87 years of operations, Jackson’s airports have never suffered a hijacking, but that streak may be about to end. The state legislature is considering a bill that would create a new airport board appointed by the governor. If passed it would effectively take control of the Jackson International Airport (JAN) away from the current Airport Commission which is appointed by the mayor of Jackson and confirmed by the Jackson City Council.

This came as a big surprise to members of the Jackson City Council who, prior to the news, had received no notice from the legislature of concerns or specific problems with the airport or its operations.

Proponents of the bill cite three issues - cheaper air fares available in markets like New Orleans, the desire to revitalize economic development around the airport and lastly the lack of aviation experience by the current commission’s members.

To fully appreciate these issues it is helpful to understand how the airline industry has evolved over the years. In its early days, the airline industry was heavily regulated. That changed in 1978 when Alfred Kahn at the FAA deregulated the industry. Investment capital flooded into the industry spawning 52 new airlines offering a wide variety of routes, schedules and fares. What followed was years and years of hammer and tong - dog eat dog competition.

By the late 90’s the skies had turned turbulent for airlines and their investors with record failures, reorganizations and bankruptcies. Before it was over every major carrier except Southwest had gone through bankruptcy and the total losses for the industry as a whole exceeded all the profits made since the industry’s inception in the 1930s. It was only due to ever more investment inflows that airlines remained around to serve the flying public. Wall Street joked that the airline industry was where capital went to die.

But those days are gone. Over the past decade the industry has undergone massive consolidation. Delta merged with Northwest, United merged with Continental, Southwest merged with AirTran and American merged with U.S. Air. The result was four major carriers and a more oligopoly type market place. Major carriers now more focused on profitability than market share battles. This means optimizing their newly merged networks for fuller flights and maximizing the efficiency of their capital equipment (airplanes) – the big drivers of profits. Airlines are operating more and more like railroads in the sky.

Unfortunately the newly optimized networks has meant fewer flights to many airports across the country. For example from 2011 through 2014 (the latest FAA data available) Cincinnati saw total passenger enplanements drop by 16%, Birmingham dropped by 9%, Jacksonville, FL dropped by 4%, Memphis dropped by 58% and Jackson, MS dropped by 12.6%. Some cities have had to shutter entire wings of recently expanded airports. It was unfortunate that Southwest left Jackson in 2014, but it had nothing to do with Jackson’s Airport Commission.

Regarding economic development around the airport – those responsibilities are best left to entrepreneurs investing their own capital.

Regarding the lack of aviation experience on the commission. The simple and straightforward way to address this concern is by amending the 2013 Mississippi Code Title 61 – Aviation Chapter 3 that covers airport authorities.

Some more history – Southwest’s entry in the Jackson market in 1997 came about because of a team effort of civic and government leaders - Jimmy Heidel, Dirk Vanderleest, Duane O’Neill, Kirk Fordice and Trent Lott to name a few. It was a win-win-win for the City, the metro area and the State. It grew the economic pie for everyone. The current proposed bill offers no such effort. While the bills details are not yet available it appears to be just an attempt to re-slice the current pie.

Ashby M. Foote III
President Vector Money Management / Jackson City Councilman Ward 1 (R)

Kingfish note: Here are other posts about the airport.

Building the Jackson airport.  (Collection of posts about the creation of the airport)
Jackson airport stuff.  (Collection of posts about the airport itself)


Only black lives matter said...

It's a total race issue. Why hasn't anyone admitted that? The Jackson airport board will only allow minority contractors. If a Tri county or state board is created, they will select the lowest bid for projects.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

No offense, but look at the experience of the board that is in place now and tell me if this is a group that is suited to manage an important economic driver such as the airport? HELL NO! Preacher is about the only one that has some credentials. the rest are lapping it up to go to Hawaii and Paris air show.

What I find completely ridiculous is that the folks that are screaming racism, have an ALL-BLACK board in place. "REVERSE DESCRIMINATION" I say!!!

It is time to stop shouting racism at every turn. Eventually when it does raise its vile and disgusting head it will be met with a tepid yawn. No thanks to Derek Johnson and the band of misfits that attended that "Presser" the other day. That was a joke.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe it would make a damned bit of difference if the whole board were white. Rankin County is in control of the State and they see an opportunity to seize the Airport; right or wrong does not matter to them. The ones who benefit will always find a way to justify their actions.

Anonymous said...

9:49, it isn't reverse discrimination, it is just plain old discrimination. Call it what it is. Calling it reverse discrimination is just another way of excusing it because it is black people.

Black people yell racism anytime there happens to be two or more white people together without a black in the group. Why do they fail to notice sports teams? I don't hear anyone yelling racism there.

Whirly-Bird said...

This may or may not be relevant. I remember a few years back when there was a reserved parking space right at the front door of the terminal. The sign said 'Reserved For Congressman Bennie Thompson' and he parked an antique pickup truck there. He was, then as well as now, a man of special privilege ~ one who has never, to my knowledge brought a single private sector economic development project to his district, let alone to the airport area.

The Board's travel budget (which Kingfish has posted here on past occasions) alone should be cause enough for concern. The whole 'board debacle' has always been about privilege and buddies. Right now it's also all about being 'our turn', 'we in charge' and a totally black board of directors. And, its been that way for a decade or more.

I don't know the makeup of prior boards, but, surely there has been a black member or two during so-called white administrations. Those who want to make it all about race are those who are all about race - Their own.

Anonymous said...

Why not have Jackson just include members from outside the city, including an average citizen who actually knows what it's like to travel as a non-VIP?

Anonymous said...

To quote everyone's favorite shrilling voice - "What difference does it make"? So what with who they contract with? The City of Jackson has been acting that way for years under the approval of state law that allows for cities (and entities) setting their minority participation rate. Question: Does Rankin County have a minority participation requirement in their contracts? I frankly don't know, but bet that the 'new' commission anticipated by this bill would set one for the airport.

But the fact is - the contracts issued by the airport don't affect you, me or the traveling public. It doesn't affect the fares - which was Harkins' first excuse for his bill. It won't bring Southwest back, or any other airline.

This is nothing but a grab by folks who want to benefit themselves and their friends by a hostile takeover of a city owned property. It might be being done under the guise of economic development but can someone please tell me what development this new board would do that is sitting there, waiting in the wings for a new management team to come in? And if you can name it - how would it affect anyone other than the group that you name.

Kingfish said...

Well, Mr. Peabody, he had not done so because the Ward 1 spot was not up for nomination. They rotate.

I would love to get rid of the ward requirement for the JMAA and several other boards as well.

Anonymous said...

Let Jackson keep it. Just change the make up of the board to give counties some input. Do not let the governor appoint. This requirement is to only let the local legislators have the power rather than the Boards of Supervisors. This is all about who makes the money off the airport contracts.

Anonymous said...

It's a total race issue. Why hasn't anyone admitted that? The Jackson airport board will only allow minority contractors.

That's an outright lie. People on the internet make stuff up, spout it as fact, and then the echo chorus follows up on it.

KF, does the airport publish anything with the percentage of contracts awarded to DBEs? I think some of your readers would be surprised that the actual figures don't line up with their worldview of white-oppression.

Anonymous said...

The good old days of aviation are over. I remember flying in and out of JAN during my 3 year consulting stint. Flight were on 727's, 767's, 757's, MD88's and 737's along with a very few regional jets. Today that is all gone not just for JAN but most airports of moderate size.

American built and complete new wing (30) gates to Raleigh-Durham (RDU) and then closed it. Southwest started with a bang in Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) and in 6-8 months were gone. Memphis and Cincinnati are monster shells of their former glory.

IMHO it doesn't matter who runs the airport it will never be much more than it is now. Like so many cities Jackson and the metro sit between major hub cities like New Orleans (MSY) and Memphis (MEM).

That for the flying public is a shame but welcome to the world of consolidation. One good piece of good news is that regional jets are going away in favor of 717's and MD788's.

Anonymous said...

Your quote "It will not bring South West back"

You are very wrong, wrong, wrong.
Ask the Senator if other Airlines have contacted him when they heard thru word of mouth this bill was being written!

Anonymous said...

All of these boards all over the whole state are about privilege. The state CPA board goes to Hawaii for a convention. Same thing. Don't single out JMAA.

Anonymous said...

12:31. I call bulls**t. Southwest left here and other airports at the same time based on passenger loading. It had nothing to do with the management of the airport. I have talked with the Senator several times about this bill and he has never - never - indicated that he thinks it will bring SW or any other airline back.

Take a look at Meridian. They had to partner with Hattiesburg/Laurel in order to get a very small commuter flight that then goes to Dallas. Interesting article in Airport Improvement Magazine (Jan/Feb 2015 issue) about the work involved in attracting ExpressJet to provide a modicum of service. Article discusses the market issue of 'enplanements' and airline consolidation.

If you really believe your post, you are the only person around that has fallen for that line. Anyone who deals in this industry knows that the only way SW or anybody else would add service to JIA is if the enplanements were grossly increased or if another airline pulled out and left a void to major market hubs.

Anonymous said...

The palpable desperation of the pro-Jackson crowd is hilarious. It is over. Harkins' bill gets passed and signed.

Anonymous said...

what are the landing fees at JAN compared to other airports of similar size?

Anonymous said...

1:30 is spot on. These posters are know-nothings that think they know it all.

Anonymous said...

I looked up a flight cost on for a year out and it is only $300 cheaper to fly from Jackson to Atlanta than from New York City to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. That difference is emblematic of flight price differences across the board from Jackson versus other bigger cities.

I cannot imagine that putting a few fellas on the board from Rankin and Madison will change those price difference realities driven by the market in which we are a small player with few people to hit the airways and keep prices lower. A change in governing may make the make-up of the board more palatable to our suburban neighbors, but I don't see prices or flight opportunities appreciably changing because of it.

Anonymous said...

Funny @1:30 PM that you fail to mention the Airport Improvement article stresses, hard, thinking regionally. You have no idea what the SW enplanement rate needs to be in order to return profitably to JAN.

Anonymous said...

Y'all all pretend that Rankin county is no longer home to the same folks who were bootleggin' and running 'ho's. Just because they are wearing suits, doesn't mean they aren't still into crooked schemes!
Y'all are just bound and determine in your fear to turn this State back over to the Klan and Dixie Mafia families who made enough money first time around to clean up their young'uns and pay for their book learnin'!

Chuck Yeager said...

Err @12:27, did they tear down the jetways that accommodated the 767s? I'll allow that a stray 757 may have accidentally stumbled into JAN somehow at some point, though I highly doubt it. But 767s? There's no way that a 767's landing gear has ever touched the tarmac at JAN.

Anonymous said...

1:57 -actually I do. Bet you don't, but I would be glad to compare level of knowledge in an appropriate forum.

Anonymous said...

The Airport Improvement article did strees hard thinking and partnering. And 'regional' thinking between two airports! The consultant was working for both airports (independently) and looking to help both. It was not working the 'regional' market of Lauderdale, Newton, Neshoba, Kemper Counties and west Alabama. There is a big difference in the thinking from that article - putting two small airports together, and the 'regional' concept of Harkins bill which is to take one airport and make a claim that everybody in the area gets a piece of it. Apples and pineapples.

It also pointed out that even with the combination of the two airports - with a passanger getting on a plane in L/H, traveling to Meridian where additional passengers get on, and then going to the DFW hub was about the best that L/H, and even Meridian, could hope for in this market.

Meridian had Delta and American service only a couple of years ago. Now it has ExpressJet. All markets that are not hubs are getting more regional carriers and fewer full-size jets.

SW doesn't follow the regional jet model. It flies into markets where it can fill a 727/737. Jackson - as it exists today - doesn't meet that criteria. And a board appointed by the Governor, or the President, will not change that.

Anonymous said...

Bill will most likely pass. Governor will appoint a diverse board of qualified candidates to avoid discrimination concerns. The new board will be better served for any economic development that may arise. A Tri-County advisory board has got to be better than one appointed by the City of Jackson that allows one of their council members to make the racist comments weekly to the media.

Anonymous said...

What does fhe board actually fo?

Set speed limit on the access road?

If the board is largely ceremonial (as I suspect it is) then we should have a more diverse cross section of Mississippians showcasing what we can provide to prospective businesses.

Anonymous said...

One problem is that the Federal government subsidizes flights to/from smaller airports like Laurel/Hattiesburg, Greenville etc. too many airports. Thanks Cochran etc. Oh, and Madison County wanted one too.

Anonymous said...

2:38, airports are heavily regulated at the Federal level. The legislation will pass and the Governor will sign it, but the final decision will be made by the non-Rankin County based FAA.

Anonymous said...

The State of Miss. has a legal right to chance the governing board of the airport and the FAA will say or do nothing. The City of Jackson is a creature of the State and may change the law over the lower governments.

Anonymous said...

5:23 - First, please read the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution for guidance on whether the Federal government has a say in areas the Congress has acted on. Second, I presume any airport operating certificate/license was issued to and is held by the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. FAA approval is presumably required to change the operator. This legislation intends to change the operator. Finally, google the situation in Charlotte, NC. That legislature enacted a very similar proposal to this one and the FAA has held it up for years.

Back It Up said...

5:23; You make a claim that you either forgot to or are unable to substantiate. Please provide something to back up your claim that 'The State....has a right to chance (sic) the governing board...".

OK, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Attn 2:27
Flight New York LGA to ATL to Birmingham to JAN to DAL to SFO yes a 767.

The gates don't move the jetway moves up and down to accommodate small or large jets.

I have walked up to a jet and down to a jet or even flat at JAN.

If I remember the year was 1998

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr. Foote for the amateur opinion. Meanwhile, I will continue to drive to NOLA and Memphis to fly.

Anonymous said...

Prices and lack of competition at the Jackson airport are not unique to Jackson. All mid-tier cities in the US are going through the same thing. Airlines are trying to take share in the larger cities and adding routes. And the smaller areas are losing routes getting gouged on price. The composition of the JMAA will have no bearing on that.

But every thief has a good excuse.

Anonymous said...

How many times have you repeated the same damn thing @7:10 AM? We get your opinion already.

Anonymous said...

It is not just prices and competition for flights, but development inside the airport. I hate flying out of Jackson post 9/11 because you have to show up so early; however, once inside the terminal, there is nothing to do. God forbid a layover in Jackson. I mean, why not tap into the revenue from the price gouged amenities like every other airport.

Kingfish said...

Not enough traffic to justify it. I'd imagine that only works well at hubs.

Anonymous said...

at first I was pleased that my Senator started this airport control sharing. Then as I several times a day cross Pearl River Valley District controlled land I realize although it seems impossible it could get worse. Even the RV park on the Rankin Side of the REZ is corrupt. Please give me some reason to trust?

Anonymous said...

9;32 just what kind of business or amenity would you like to start inside the terminal. I am sure that the board would be glad to lease you the space just like other airports do. But like KF says in response - the traffic is not there to justify very many eating, drinking or shopping spaces.

They are there for the business owner that wants to open the space. Those you talk about in the other airports (and by the way, not "every other" airport has amenities) are not operated by the airport authority - they are leased spaces by private businesses.

Anonymous said...

For all of you thinking Southwest is coming back, try some of this reality: (for the challenged, the large number is population. Let's not let facts get in the way of our ignorance!

Jackson, MS MSA - 577,000 (5 county area) - no Southwest Airlines
Shreveport, LA MSA - 447,000 (3 parish area) - no Southwest Airlines
Baton Rouge, LA MSA - 808,000 (9 parish area) - no Southwest Airlines

Birmingham, AL MSA - 1,130,000 (7 county area) - Southwest flies out of their airport
Memphis, TN MSA - 1,370,000 (10 county area) - Southwest flies out of their airport
New Orleans, LA MSA - 1,227,000 (10 parish area) - Southwest flies out of their airport

Anonymous said...

Let's not let facts get in the way of our ignorance!

Lord knows you've never let facts get in the way of your own.

Donuts In The Breakroom said...

If JAN would just put in a jogging trail. For the TSA agents.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS