Economic Development and Travel & Tourism

Ford airport's international route departs

August 22, 2013
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Gerald R. Ford International Airport is served by five passenger airlines with 120 daily non-stop flights to and from 23 major market destinations.Photo via fb.com

Ford airport’s lone direct international route will take off for the last time next month.

Air Canada has announced that it will end its Ford airport service, with its last flights taking place on Sept. 2.

Air Canada first arrived at the Ford airport in July 2008. It operates two flights daily to Toronto, using an 18 seat turbo-prop aircraft.

Weak demand

Brian Ryks, Ford airport executive director, said that, unfortunately, the service has remained weak over the past five years and attempts to improve service by altering flight times and changing pricing didn’t improve the situation.

In the end, there has not been enough demand for the Toronto service.

The service’s load factors ranged anywhere form 29 to 43 percent, from 2008-2013, Ryks said, while other services generally average in the mid 80s.

The service’s on-board passengers each year ranged from a low total passengers of 3,723 up to a high of 4,556, from 2009-2012, he said.

“The issues are that there is not a lot of local demand for Toronto as a destination," Ryks said. “It’s more of a connection opportunity. The other issue is that given the amount of service we have through Detroit — with Delta and Delta’s connecting opportunities to domestic and international routes out of Detroit — it really has been at a competitive disadvantage.”

Air Canada’s service represents .3 percent of Ford airport’s available seats, which means the loss will have little impact on the airport.

“I assume the traffic will be picked up on other carriers,” Ryks said. “Generally speaking, we don’t like to lose any air service out of here, but, in this case, it’s a route that has struggled I think all along, and so it wasn’t a surprise when we heard this news.”

International status

The departure also does not affect Ford’s status as an international airport, which actually has to do with its ability to clear international freight and corporate aircraft through onsite customs.

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