City Attorney’s Report. McCarthy reported that there had been a couple of Air Service Consortium meetings, and there are issues on the agenda related to the air service. McCarthy reiterated that a successful meeting had occurred with G-P representatives. McCarthy reported that maps had been prepared to direct folks through the maze of the Bayfront project. It was suggested that businesses might be interested in placing coupons on the back of the maps. Council had no objection.
DISCUSSION ITEMS AND PRESENTATIONS
Presentation by Kent Craford of SeaPort Air. Kent Craford, CEO of SeaPort Air, thanked the City Council for allowing him time for this presentation. He noted that the service is six months old, and he would review statistics on ridership, marketing, distribution, scheduling, and the interline agreement, to date.
Craford reported that Seaport has completed 1,672 flights to the coast carrying 3,910 passengers. Newport passengers are 57% of the total traffic. He added that growth has been good, strong, and sustained, and is expected to continue. He reported that revenue is growing at an even better rate.
Craford reported that SeaPort is an aggressive marketer, and while it is obligated to spend $22,000 monthly marketing the coastal air service, the average is approximately $30,000. He noted that the SeaPort magazine is a publication of the Newport News- Times.
Craford reported that SeaPort has added GES connectivity, allowing passengers to buy tickets through travel agencies and bundle with tickets of other airlines.
Craford reported that SeaPort is obligated to obtain an interline ticketing agreement, and noted that this has not been accomplished. He stated that SeaPort has been working on it for nearly 1-½ years, but that the existing reservation platform is not robust enough to support the software for e-ticketing which is a prerequisite for an interline agreement. He added that the concern that the current reservation system cannot support e-ticketing in a reliable fashion is the reason that SeaPort notified the Consortium that it needs an extension of time to obtain the interline agreement. He noted that passengers will be able to access online travel agencies after e-ticketing is in place.
Craford noted that one weakness in the current service is the schedule to Astoria. He reported that the flight that departs PDX for Astoria at 5:00 A.M. is almost always empty. He added that he has discussed changes with the Consortium regarding implementing a more marketable schedule that will still work operationally. He noted that SeaPort is currently looking at sliding the schedule ahead, and that options will be developed for Consortium review. He noted that he has consistently heard from central coast customers that it is their desire to be able to fly to Newport, conduct business, and be home for dinner. He added that the schedule does not currently allow that. He stated that Newport flights are approximately 50% full now which represents 200% of the contractual benchmark.
Craford stated that he strongly endorses the creation of an air service sustainability task force. He added that it will take an active partnership of the community and the air service provider to sustain the service. He added that the partnership is somewhat strained, and he would like to see it strengthened. He displayed several PowerPoint