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Missed Connections: Finding solutions to the Crisis in Air Travel

This is the first in a series of reports from the Reconnecting America project examining the current crisis in intercity travel in the United States and recommending a more economically stable and integrated system of travel for the country. This first report focuses on the aviation system. Future reports will analyze intercity rail, homeland security issues, and federal policy opportunities. The crisis affecting the aviation industry is profound and will be long lasting unless changes in policy and approach are found in both the public and the private sector. The airlines have responded to their difficult financial situation by attempting to cut costs in labor, equipment and service. The cuts in service are resulting in reduced schedules, convenience and comfort to travelers and reduced accessibility to the national economy for many cities. The crisis threatens to prolong and deepen the financial difficulties being felt in the travel and tourism industry, which is key to metropolitan economies. The report identifies the cities hardest hit by the cuts in air service, ranking them in categories of large, medium and small airports, and finds that the changes result from deep cuts in short distance flights. These flights of 100-400 miles, which are becoming money losers for the airlines, can be well served by passenger rail and express bus service, if airports become travelports for these services.