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Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO)

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Crews start work on FedEx hub

1-17-04

By Paul Muschick Staff Writer

News & Record

Piedmont Triad International Airport started clearing land Friday for the FedEx hub, with opponents still promising to seek a federal court injunction that would stop the work until all of their environmental appeals are heard.

Friday's work was minimal -- clearing trees off about an acre along Old Oak Ridge Road near Bryan Boulevard. About 5 acres must be cleared to make room to build three silt ponds, which must be in place to protect area streams and wetlands before the site grading occurs, said Ted Johnson, PTI's executive director.

He said it could take about a month to build the ponds before a West Virginia contractor, Vecellio and Grogan Inc., could begin the major piece of the site preparation, which will total $20.5 million.

The airport wants to open the hub by 2009, eventually growing to a total of 126 takeoffs and landings on some nights. Supporters contend the hub would create jobs in a sagging economy and argue that the environmental impacts have been overstated.

Opponents counter that FedEx's overnight flights would wake people living along the flight path.

They also say the cargo-sorting center would pollute the air and water. They contend its expected economic boost has been overstated.

The Alliance for Legal Action, a nonprofit group formed to fight the project in court, has said it intends to ask the federal court in Greensboro to order that work be stopped until opponents' appeals are heard. It intends to file another appeal, of a federal water quality permit, at the same time it files the injunction request.

"It will be filed in the near future," said Mark Warren, the Alliance's executive director.

Opponents already have an appeal pending in state court. It contends that state environmental officials were wrong to issue a permit that says the hub could be built without causing overwhelming water pollution, if proper steps are taken.

Johnson said PTI will fight any request to stop construction.

"We will try to keep the work proceeding," he said.

If work continues before the court rules on the injunction request, opponents could seek an emergency restraining order to stop work until a judge rules on the permanent injunction.

That restraining order could not be filed, though, until the work encroaches on the streams and wetlands that are the subject of the appeals, Warren said. Friday's work does not.

PTI already is preparing for another phase of the project, relocating Bryan Boulevard about a half-mile to the northwest so a new runway can be built.

The airport opened bids for the work earlier this week and officials were excited to learn the bids were lower than anticipated.

Vecellio and Grogan also submitted the low bid for that job, about $44.3 million. The airport had estimated the work will cost about $53 million.

The state is paying for most of the work, with the airport paying for some of the costs to manage the job.

"I'm hoping it will save both of us a little bit of money," Johnson said.

Edited by cityboi

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FedEx is like GOD - its everywhere, its in every aspect of our lives whether we know it or not; only you can touch, see, and its not faith-based.

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JetBlue just announed expansion into NC with flights out of Charlotte and Raleigh, even after research of PTI as a possible expansion point. With service down to 74 passenger flights daily from a high of 104, and residents (myself included) easily willing to drive to the Charlotte or Raliegh airports is passenger service doomed to keep declining at PTI??

I know costs play a big key, the reason I am travelling out of Charlotte to LAX in June is because my fare was $175 cheaper round trip.

What do y'all think??

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Yes. Long-term, PTI is in trouble. The structural forces of higher oil prices cut doubly in the Triangle, since so much of the regional economy that is not focused on biotech is focused on transportation logistics.

So if you're an exec in a business like trucking/distribution who works near PTI, and you are paying more and more just to conduct your basic business, what is one of the first things to cut in tight times? Business travel.

I expect PTI to be under 50 daily flights within 10 years.

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Well I actually saw an article about this. I'll find the link soon. They said that JetBlue was "going back to basics" and going to have flights out of their original 44 city plan. They were not expecting the success they've had, which led them to branch out as much as they did. Fuel costs and everything else has forced them to cut down on expansion. They said since the population was denser in the East, they knew they would be very successful in their original 44 cities. The times are forcing them back to that plan. CLT, RDU, and GSO were all included on that list. They were also chosen because of the high cost carriers that were prevalent at each airport.

Edited by jjasonham

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Prices Push PTI Traffic Down

On other threads, I have posited that the PTI airport may get out of the passenger business in the next 10-15 years.

PTI faces multiple challenges. It no longer has a discount carrier, so prices on the big carriers are up. Since prices are up, there is a greater incentive for people to drive to RDU and CLT. As more people drive to RDU and CLT, prices needed to fly out of PTI will have to go up to maintain revenues, or flights will be curtailed even more.

With fuel prices as high as they are, and the likelihood of them remaining high, the demise of PTI could be accelerated.

There are lots of terrific reasons to invest more heavily in the NCRR rail corridor, but PTI's struggle is one of the best reasons. Eventually, there will be a station at Charlotte Douglas Airport, just like BWI.

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It will most likely stay open for passenger traffic but will probably lose most major flights. I think it will be similar to the Wilmington or Greenville/Spartanburg airports.

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It will most likely stay open for passenger traffic but will probably lose most major flights. I think it will be similar to the Wilmington or Greenville/Spartanburg airports.

That makes sense. Your suggestion is probably more likely than a complete elimination of passenger service. The subsequent question will be- if PTI will be the Wilmington/Spartanburg of the future, what will become of those places?

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There will always be a certain amount of traffic at PTI based just on how it's the closest airport to well over a million people. If it's just an hour flight, few people want to drive 90 minutes to RDU or CLT to hop on a plane. Perhaps traffic will go down, but it will never evaporate completely.

If you mean to say that GSP airport is having trouble lately, it may just be because Asheville airport is doing so well. Ten years ago, if you lived in Asheville and you wanted to fly, you drove to Greenville. There were around 10 daily departures from from AVL, with three direct destinations (RDU, CLT, ATL) two airlines (USAir, Delta), and *one* jet per day. Now there are about 40 daily departures, 30 jets and 8 direct destinations, and 4 airlines, with service all over the eastern and midwestern US.

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In the long run, the flights at PTI will pick up. The economy is turning around for the Triad. Its going to take some time but we'll get there.

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If you mean to say that GSP airport is having trouble lately, it may just be because Asheville airport is doing so well.

It's not so much suggesting that individual airports have problems, it's more about discussing the extremely precarious position in which the airline industry at large currently rests.

Air travel is among the most energy-intensive modes of transportation. As energy costs rise, prices of plane tickets will also rise, and ultimately, the industry is likely to contract.

If PTI is struggling, how much longer will a GSP stay open? AVL is a tourist destination that attracts high-wealth visitors. PTI, GSP are not. The dent in discretionary travel will be felt at AVL last.

That said, I have no idea. GSP may be holding onto its flights well, and may be making money.

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I drive out there.. PTI *seems* never ever even close to busy as CLT or RDU

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GSP International is actually continuing to increase flights per year. I don't think it will suffer any major set backs from the losses. There are other airliners showing serious interest in the Upstate, SC market as well.

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In the long run, the flights at PTI will pick up. The economy is turning around for the Triad. Its going to take some time but we'll get there.

I guess I'm more pessimistic. I fly Charlotte because I can always find much lower fares, and unless work is arranging their trips, my friends fly Charlotte or Raleigh for the same reasons. Until PTI can compete pricewise and keep the local population from driving to those airport, the downward spiral will just increase until the airport is insignificant for passenger travel.

I hope things do pick up in the Triad to make me wrong though!

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Financially I don't know how PTI will be able to operate. I don't feel as optimistic that this airport will be around much longer in its current form.

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Financially I don't know how PTI will be able to operate. I don't feel as optimistic that this airport will be around much longer in its current form.

I think the market opportunity for PTI may have ten years remaining. After that, we'll be a two-major-airport state. However, the psychology of previous investment is strong enough that we'll oversubsidize the dying service at PTI to extend its life further into the future. Heck, if we have money to keep the Global Transpark afloat, we ought to be able to come up with money for an airport that may have actually turned a profit at one point.

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I think the market opportunity for PTI may have ten years remaining. After that, we'll be a two-major-airport state. However, the psychology of previous investment is strong enough that we'll oversubsidize the dying service at PTI to extend its life further into the future. Heck, if we have money to keep the Global Transpark afloat, we ought to be able to come up with money for an airport that may have actually turned a profit at one point.

One of the major problems for this airport is that the airlines don't even want to fly out of this facility. No matter how much money NC pumps into this dying corpse it won't bring major air traffic back.

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PTI had great rates during the first half of the 90s for flights going into Newark Airport.

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PTI had great rates during the first half of the 90s for flights going into Newark Airport.

During the "hey-day" of Continental at the airport, there were great fares almost everywhere. In fact, companies would bus people to Greensboro from Charlotte or Raleigh to take advantage of the fares. However, that's now shifted and the competition and lower fares are at Charlotte and Raleigh.

Just for example, pricing flights to LAX from all three airports in early June recently, I found the following:

$183 round trip from Charlotte, $276 from Raleigh, and $338 from Greensboro. I'll let you guess which fare I selected.

I would like to support the local airport, but it doesn't cost me $155 bucks to drive to Charlotte yet.

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GSO will remain open as long as there are corporations in the Triad. I can

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I agree, there will always be passenger traffic at PTI. The economy is just not doing so hot. and one reason why some people arent flying out of PTI and even many other airports is that ticket prices are due to high oil cost.

Edited by cityboi

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More negative reports for PTI today, fares are up 25% over last year. This is the second largest increase in 85 markets behind Cleveland. This is also contributing into further declines in passenger traffic. Until we have a low-cost carrier or more competition come into our airport, things don't look extremely bright.

W-S Journal article about fare increases at PTI

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