Will Delta rate drop help Albany? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will Delta rate drop help Albany?

January 6, 2005

Albany -- Delta Airlines has been on the verge of bankruptcy, but Wednesday they announced a daring move to make it cheaper for you to fly.

Passengers are dwindling at the Albany airport, but maybe with the better prices, travelers will come back. Nearly 10,000 passengers have stopped flying into Albany in the past five years.

Lack of competition means more expensive flights and lack of customers. But airline tickets are going down, smoothing out the playing field.

Mike Sikoski is in Albany on business. He flies every week, and Delta's daring attempt to cut expensive fares makes him happy.

Fares will be more consistent nationwide. "Which is a good thing. The fare structure on airlines is unbelievable, there's no rhyme or reason," said Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Director Yvette Aehle.

Aehle has already noticed lower prices for round trips to and from Albany. She picked a travel date of February 7th through the 9th. Flights range from $250 to $370.

The highest priced fare goes out west. "The numbers are more consistent and the fares are fairer and more equitable than they used to be." And they are hoping that will bring customers back.

According to Southwest Georgia Regional Airport reports, in 1999, 45,075 people flew out of Albany. The number of passengers steadily decreased until 2003. If you compare 1999 to 2004, 8,676 passengers who chose to fly out of Albany in 1999, did not fly out of Albany in 2004.

As far as arrival passengers go, 1999 had 44,828 passengers arrive in Albany. In 2004, 34,938 flew into Albany-- a decrease of 9,890.

Aehle said, " It has to do with fares and competition, people now are a lot more able to shop for their own fares since the invention of the Internet, a lot more people are shopping around for the tickets like never before."

With SimpliFares Albany will have a closer price match with Valdosta, Columbus and Dothan. Sikoski likes that. "Oh yes, I would shop for the lowest prices."

Like many travelers, Mike Sikoski says the jury is still out. He will have to see the savings himself.

Delta also decided to eliminate the Saturday stay over rule. It's common for airlines to charge you extra if you don't stay through Saturday night, but Delta is axing that idea, so it won't matter, money wise, if you stay the weekend or not.

American, United, U.S. Airways and Northwest Airlines have all announced they will meet Delta's new low fares.

posted at 6:05PM by dave.miller@walb.com