CASE STUDY :2
With a small year-round population, Branson, Missouri, is in a location not easily accessible by air
service.45 The city, best known for its country music and music variety shows and family-style
attractions, also has the kinds of outdoor activities that attracted more than 8 million visitors last year,
“earning it the unofficial nickname ‘Vegas without the gambling.’” About 95 percent of those visitors come by car
or bus. But now there’s a new show in town—the Branson Airport. The $155 million airport, which opened in May2009, is an experiment that many people are watching.
The airport is generating interest from city governments and the travel industry because it’s the ...view middle of the document...
Because theairport wasn’t using federal assistance, it didn’t face the restrictions that accompany taking government money,which also meant it could pick and choose the airlines it allowed in. To attract those airlines, the airport agreedto not allow other competitors in. Also, the airport owners kept the airlines’ operating costs low since airportemployees do much of the work usually done by an airline’s ground staff. Initially, the airport’s owners offeredexclusive contracts to AirTran and Sun Country on certain routes to Branson. Now, Frontier Airlines and thenewly-formed Branson AirExpress have added service. Mr. Peet emphasizes that they want the airlines to succeed.“We want to build real service, sustainable service.”
The airport earns money from landing fees (based on number of passengers, not on weight), aircraft fuel
sales, a percentage of every sale at the airport’s facility, and a $8.24 fee paid by the city of Branson for eacharriving passenger. To reach Peet’s goal of 250,000 passengers a year, the airport needs only 685 passengers(five to six planeloads) a day. He says, “What we’re doing is going to work.” But first, they have to dealwith some significant turbulence. Branson city officials (who have been...