Tulsa Airport Remains Optimistic Despite Decline In Flight Numbers

Friday, July 24th 2015, 6:26 pm
By: News On 6

Federal leaders are investigating five major airlines that are accused of price gouging. The Transportation Secretary is gathering information involving Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue.

The airlines are accused of raising ticket prices in the Northeast after a deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia back in May, which disrupted rail service.

The latest investigation is separate from another Justice Department inquiry into potentially secret deals among airlines involving airfare prices.

As prices for airfare rise, flight numbers are on the decline in small airports across the country, including Tulsa.

The Tulsa International Airport has seen a gradual drop in flights since 2011 - roughly a 15 percent difference in the numbers from then until now.

With around 383 flights running compared to 450 back in 2011, it’s a drop that is not ideal, but not as bad as some other airports around the country, according to Airports Director Jeff Mulder.

“What happens when you have consolidation anything? You end up with less of something," he said.

Mulder said they started seeing the decline as many major airlines merged - like United/Continental, American with U.S. Airways, and Southwest with AirTran.

But Mulder said Tulsa hasn’t felt the effect as much as other major cities.

"The airports that have a significant decline in flights because they used to be a hub, that's a significant issue for their community, we've never been a major hub, we haven't been a hub," he said.

In fact, even with the decline, Tulsa International has seen some growth, with the introduction of direct flights to Los Angeles and a new flight to Charlotte, North Carolina - two options the airport didn't have before.

"What we're seeing, though, is new entrants come in a provide some new services. Allegiant Airlines has expanded here in Tulsa, and they are a growing carrier, and so what we hope to see is more of that and we hope to see some more flights come back," Mulder said.

He said the airport is optimistic; and that with the growth in Tulsa, they feel more flights will come back as new airlines emerge to fill the gaps.