Many FlyHobbs fares within range of Midland, Lubbock
FlyHobbs gets better with time.
How much cheaper than other area airports does flying out of the Lea County Regional Airport have to be to encourage business and leisure flyers to park for free at the local airport?
Steve Vierck, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County, said his staff checks fare rates every month. He provided charts comparing Hobbs to Midland and Hobbs to Lubbock for February.
One wedge of the pie shows the percentage of flights that actually cost less when flying out of Hobbs, 6 percent compared to Midland and 16 percent compared to Lubbock. Other wedges indicate how much Hobbs exceeded the other airports.
“There are a few fares that are less expensive, but the majority of fares is less than $30 (difference),” Vierck said, “and you’re not going to drive to Midland for $30 because you have to pay for parking as well as the gas.”
He noted that, given as much as a $30 difference, 73 percent of flyers likely would prefer to leave from Hobbs.
With a $50 breaking point, which many flyers would use unless they had a large family on a trip, Vierck pointed out, that percentage increased to 81 percent. The survey found in only 19 percent of flights were the fares greater than $50 more than fares out of Midland.
“The nice thing is that in February, there were no fares where we were more expensive by $100. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that. I think this is really important,” Vierck said. “The big linchpin is fares. I think if we keep it close, (the public) will use this service more.”
Flights out of Lubbock were different, but still more than half of them were either more expensive or less than $30 more than the cost of flights from Hobbs.
By contrast, some 17 percent of flights out of Lubbock were more than $100 less than flights out of Hobbs.
The load factor — the number of seats occupied compared to the number of seats available on a flight – is another data point measured monthly. Vierck said a month-by-month increase in 2017 over the related month of 2016 began in May 2017.
He acknowledged that while United Airlines had some management turnover, a good part of the load factor improvements were the reduced fares.
“We want to grow this thing over time,” Vierck said, commending United for responding to concerns about fares.
Transportation to and from local hotels had been a concern in previous years, but Vierck said the establishment of a taxi service and efforts at hotels to provide transportation have allayed some of those concerns.
“I think it’s improved,” he said.