in praise of regional airports

sitting in Rapid City Airport, using their complementary wifi, i am wondering whether there will be a renaissance of the regional airport. hassle-free checkin, short lines, an absence of constant “security announcements” and the quiet of a place that does not want to be a mall make you feel as close to flying a private jet as reasonably possible. a new generation of planes and a departure from the hub concept might make this a reality in the next few years.

3 thoughts on “in praise of regional airports”

  1. One of my interesting electives last year at MIT was a strategy and policy course on the next-generation US (public) air transportation system.
    My group argued, and I believe, that the hub and spoke model we currently have (each airline has 1..n hubs, all its flights fly through these hubs except for a few very profitable routes, so more connections for the average passenger, while regional airports are largely wasted and underutilized) is reaching its limits, and that the future system will rely more on regional and local airports.
    These will be smaller, closer to various mid-size and small cities, and their operational costs (and therefore charges to airlines) will be lower. We already have about 9000 such airports in the US, so not much infrastructure investment is needed. The reason we’ll start using them more is the development of small planes that are highly energy-efficient, like the Eclipse 500 from Eclipse Aviation ( With such planes flying between regional airports, you can cost-effectively convey small groups of passengers.
    Long answer to your question, but basically, yes I totally agreed regional and local airports will have a resurgence.

  2. It seems like a smart idea to me all around. I recently had the pleasure of flying into Long Beach instead of LAX, and it was actually pleasant. There were no long lines, shuttles, mile-long thoroughfares, etc, just get off the plane, grab your bag and hop in your rental car across the street. Yet more proof that transportation doesn’t scale like business does.

  3. regarding midrange travel: better support long sighted, truly alternative and visionary concepts like the swissmetro / eurometro instead of betting on a doomed industry.
    regional airports and p2p aviation will certainly experience quite some up wind during the next few years, but civil aviation as such and p2p aviation in particular have some serious flaws, among them energetic and environmental inefficiency (*burning* stuff to “yield” kinetic energy is hardly ever a good idea, particularly if the stuff is not renewable), missing scalability (traffic control, maintenance, parking etc. for about 100 small jets is much more demanding than for 1 jumbo jet).
    in short: using small planes instead of large ones is less energy efficient, is more expensive and less safe. the only reason p2p aviation is currently on the rise is the fact that so far people (can afford to) value their time higher than the other factors mentioned.
    (btw see also the boeing 787 vs. airbus a380 discussions.. it’s among others also about the p2p vs. hub-and-spoke paradigm)

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