Behind the Scenes: A look at the Airport Information Technology Department

So, you’re about to embark on an exciting trip, one that begins at Asheville Regional Airport!  We know you have a fabulous destination on your mind (New York?  California?  Italy?  Peru?), and we also know that there are hard-working airport employees who are thinking about many other details that affect your trip.  We thought it would be fun to give a little insight into what happens “behind the scenes” at the airport in one of our departments.   Join us on a descriptive journey of your arrival at the airport, and the ways that our Information Technology team impacts your trip… (more…)


Is that a big jet I see? What happened to the smaller commuter planes?

The airlines are continuing to reduce the number of smaller planes from their fleets, which means the reemergence of larger jets at AVL. Smaller planes worked well when jet fuel prices were very low. However, the price of jet fuel spiked several years ago, and ever since then, smaller planes are no longer as economically viable for the airlines.

American (US Airways), Delta and United continue to offer service on 50-seat aircraft, but the frequency of these flights has declined slightly now that larger aircraft are back in the mix. American (US Airways) and Delta offer two-class service on many of the planes from AVL.   Allegiant (the ultra low-cost carrier with five Florida routes from AVL)  flies planes that seat 150 or 176 passengers.

The trend will continue in which airlines will reduce the frequency of their 50-seat aircraft, replacing with fewer round-trips with larger aircraft. It’s all about economics and the most efficient way to fly from “point A” to “point B.”

So the next time you book a flight from AVL and start to choose your seat, pay attention to that diagram of the airplane on your computer screen. It might be a little bigger than you anticipated.


Construction to the east, construction to the west … and yes, the north and south, too

Asheville Regional Airport is under construction, and no matter which way you look, dirt is being moved, roads are being paved or signs are being erected.  Below is a brief overview of what’s happening at the airport.

Project SOAR:  on the west side of the airport

The biggest construction project since the airport was built, Project SOAR will result in a new runway, a second taxiway and more than 40 acres of buildable land on the west side of the airfield.  Right now, the land is being prepared for the construction of the new taxiway.  Lots of fill material is being trucked to the site, and we expect the taxiway construction to begin by the end of the year.  To find out more, click here.

To the south:  site preparation for a new gas station and convenience store

The construction taking place adjacent to the south entrance of the airport – across from the WNC Ag Center and Fanning Bridge Road – is site preparation for a land tenant who is building a gas station and convenience store.

To the north:  NC Department of Transportation project

The main entrance of the airport has been demolished, and is being relocated at this time.  Why?  The NC Department of Transportation (NC DOT) needed the land where the entrance was located to complete their reconfiguration of the traffic interchange on Airport Road. This new entrance will be located at the light across the street from The Fairfield Inn and the J&S Cafeteria.

To the east:  the “borrow pit”

Directly across Airport Road from the terminal is what the airport calls its “borrow pit.”  This is a parcel of land designated for future development.  In order to prepare the gas station site at the south entrance,  fill dirt was “borrowed” from this parcel of land to the east of the terminal.  By removing dirt from this land, it is being leveled and prepared for future development.


The math behind the cost of your ticket

By Callie Polk, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist

There are so many factors that go into setting airfare, so we thought we would try to break it down.  Keep in mind – we only know the basics.  The airlines have their own business models that vary, and pricing strategies are pretty confidential!

Airplanes at gate

First of all, it is important to understand that airlines set ticket prices, not airports. AVL has no control over the day-to-day airfare prices, and prices can vary from day to day or even minute to minute.   It all starts when the airline chooses a particular aircraft for a flight route – that determines how many seats are available per flight – otherwise in the industry known as capacity. The type of aircraft also determines how many seats are available in each class (first, business, coach, etc.). Each class is then broken down into a sort of “fare bucket” system where maybe out of 100 coach seats, every 10 have a different set of pricing stipulations.  And these fare buckets vary based upon the markets served, and the best pricing that can be achieved.

So in addition to the base price (which, as we’ve indicated, varies greatly based on routes, seats, origin markets and demand for the service), some other costs come into play that affect ticket pricing:

  1. Ticket taxes
  2. Airport facility use fees (called “Passenger Facility Charges” that are up to $4.50 per boarding)
  3. Fuel costs and surcharges

And then there are the optional services a passenger may elect to include:

  1. On-board amenities, such as Wi-Fi and meals
  2. Selection of seats or better seats
  3. Baggage fees

OK.  So the base ticket pricing is now set.  The next question we often hear is, “Why do fares fluctuate so much?”  The age old answer applies: supply and demand in the market. Based on seat availability and demand, prices can change throughout the day, week or month. Airlines use sophisticated computer software to monitor buyer habits and trends, and to raise and lower prices when the demand is expected to be higher or lower, respectively. These price fluctuations include times of year, holidays and heavy vacation times, and days of the week. Generally speaking, a flight on a Monday, Friday or Sunday can cost more than others because they’re generally busier flight days. Same goes for the time of day – if it’s a prime time to fly (say right after work on a Friday) you might just pay more.

The complexities of airfare pricing are related directly to profit maximization. Airlines are in the business to make a profit – much like any for-profit business, large or small.

In order to do so, they have developed these sophisticated and complex pricing models.   (Again – there is so much more to it, but we’d need an airline pricing expert to tell that story!)

You may wonder – if airlines want to fill their planes, why not lower costs right before the departure date to gather as many passengers as possible? Another piece of this pricing puzzle is that oftentimes, it can be more profitable to sell a few high-dollar tickets to travelers on a deadline (the business traveler) than to sell 20 tickets at lower rates. However, if the coach seats haven’t been filled – an airline might open up a new “fare bucket” for those seats to make sure costs are covered.

Finally, comparing fares at different airports is common.  What does a comparison tell you? It can give you a snapshot of a moment in time.  Remember, fares change.  A lot.  Especially if there are market conditions that dramatically affect supply and demand.   Each airline is monitoring different factors that affect prices at each different airport. And the market is king.

Check AVL first for your travel needs.  And perhaps, if you can, check often.  We monitor fares routinely, and on average, fares from AVL are competitive.  There are even great deals to be found. For more information, visit flyavl.com.


Is your flight in season?

New York City Skyline

By Tina Kinsey, Director of Marketing, PR &  Air Service Development

Air travel today is different than it was a few years ago.  Namely, airlines no longer fly empty planes, and they are flying more routes seasonally, especially from regional airports.

What is a seasonal route?  A seasonal route happens when an airline flies non-stop to a specific city, but only during peak travel months.  During slower travel months, that flight is suspended and the airline’s asset (their airplane) is dedicated to a busier travel route, perhaps in another market.  It’s all about success for the airlines – they are focused now more than ever on ensuring that every flight and route is profitable.

Several seasonal routes are offered at Asheville Regional Airport.  Delta operates a daily non-stop to New York City’s LaGuardia International Airport during the summer months.  United flies a daily non-stop to New Jersey’s Newark International Airport summer through fall.  And Delta’s non-stop to Detroit flies almost yearly, but is suspended in winter.

Seasonality in air travel appears more in markets with strong leisure travel numbers, and in popular leisure destinations with heavier air travel in peak leisure months.  Asheville Regional Airport’s traveler mix is 50 percent leisure.

It is great to be able to hop on a non-stop to a popular destination, even if that option is available part-time during the year.  It is also good news that travelers have excellent connectivity year round from Asheville to hundreds of domestic and international destinations.  Asheville Regional Airport offers flights throughout each day to major hubs of Atlanta, Charlotte and Chicago, and most destinations are accessible with one easy connection.

Remember:  the more you fly from AVL, the more stable our air service offerings will continue to be.  The numbers are important to the airlines, and strong utilization yields more seats and routes in our market.  Thanks for checking Asheville first for your air travel!


Yes, we are the best connected non-hub airport in America!

Delta Connection plane
By Tina Kinsey, Director of Marketing, PR & Air Service Development.

According to a recently released study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Center for Transportation, Asheville Regional Airport is the best connected non-hub airport in the United States. Pretty impressive.

But what does “connectivity” mean?

The typical air traveler has one goal: get from point A to point B as easily as possible, within the timeframe needed, and hopefully, at a competitive price.

Now, if you live close to a large hub airport, such as Atlanta, you have many choices to help you achieve your travel goals. No question about it.

But if you live in a region our size, your choices may be limited. In fact, hundreds of regions in America have very limited air service options, and can’t achieve that air travel goal. People in those regions may give up the ease of travel by either driving hours to a different airport or connecting in multiple cities to finally reach their destinations. They may also have to alter their travel timelines because flights are unavailable when they would prefer. Not so for western North Carolina travelers. We have options.

Asheville Regional Airport tops a list of over 300 non-hub airports across the country for its excellent connectivity. Frequency of daily flights to major hubs is a primary contributor to this rating, with Delta to Atlanta and US Airways to Charlotte feeding 70% of all AVL air travelers to just about every connection bank at these major hubs. Basically, flights every day from Asheville can get you to and from almost anywhere in the world with one easy connection. Daily flights to Chicago on United also contribute, as well as seasonal flights to Detroit, LaGuardia and Newark.

We also have a great partnership with Allegiant Travel Company, who offers low-cost non-stop flights to four Florida destinations. This works very well for our region, because several of our top-ten destination cities are in Florida – and conversely, a very high percentage of visitors to western North Carolina are from Florida.

Airport management is in routine communication with airline planners. We advocate for new routes and services for our customers – routes that make sense, and that could be profitable for airlines. This is ongoing, diligent work. But today we are reflecting, and it is great perspective to understand where we rank with our air service. And that’s at the top.

Airlines continue to provide excellent service from Asheville Regional Airport because travelers are using the flights. Travelers often find a winning proposition in the travel equation at AVL: they can easily get to their destination within the timeframe needed … and prices are often competitive. A good balance has been forged, and the more western North Carolinians use their local airport, the better our options will continue to be.

Feels good to be a leading airport. Let’s work together to stay there. Thanks for checking AVL first for your travel needs.


Asheville Regional Airport highlights local artists in airport gallery

Fall is not only a time of changing leaves and temperatures, but also time to change the canvases and frames hanging in the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) art gallery. From the beginning of October through January 3, 2014 the Art in the Airport program will feature six fresh artists from the western North Carolina region for its 19th exhibit.

Fine photography, abstract paintings and modern pottery are tucked into a gallery open to airport visitors and travelers alike near the center of the airport terminal. The 19th exhibit displays more than 30 pieces of original art by artists who bring a variety of educational backgrounds and different media to the table.

Artist: Hannah Hall

Artist: Hannah Hall (etsy.com/shop/BirdsOfTheAirArtist)

Hannah Hall recently graduated with a bachelors in studio art from North Greenville University and returned to her hometown of Saluda while she applies to masters’ of fine arts programs. She has displayed her art in the WNC Agricultural Center and been published in the Mountain Laurel. Hannah has eight small ceramic sculptures on display as well as some black and white photographs reminding viewers of simpler times.

Artist: Joe Longobardi

Artist: Joe Longobardi (joelongobardiphotography.com)

Photographer Joe Longobardi has several black and white photographs on display that highlight the current people, scenes and happenings of downtown Asheville. Longobardi has spent the last six years as a professional photographer and has exhibited his work as far as San Francisco, California. Longobardi has been featured in several publications including Our State magazine, The Laurel of Asheville and Mountain Xpress.

Artist: Zaire Kacz

Artist: Zaire Kacz (zairekaczphotography.com)

Zaire Kacz got her start as a professional fashion photographer in Miami, Florida, and her work has been featured in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar. The Venezuela native decided to move to Asheville and used her experience to become a professional artist. Her most recent series, Reborn, highlights dancers from the Terpsicorps’ Theater of Dance and served as the inspiration for a ballet.

Artist: Harper Leich

Artist: Harper Leich (harperleich.com)

Harper Leich moved to Asheville in 2004 to join the Asheville Mural Project after graduating from Denison University with a B.F.A. and completing an internship with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Her artwork is inspired by photographs she conceptualizes and takes of friends before turning them into large oil on canvas portraits. North Carolina Mountains and fall leaves serve as backdrops to some of her earthy-toned artwork with bright pops of color and a futuristic playfulness.

Artist: John Haldane

Artist: John Haldane (john-haldane.artistwebsites.com)

North Carolina landscapes inspire another featured photographer, John Haldane, who brings some of the fall season and Asheville sights into the airport with his photographs on canvas. Scenes from the Blue Ridge Mountains, Linville River and Asheville’s city hall can be found in a gallery space near baggage claim. Haldane’s images have been published in several local magazines including The Scenic, The Laurel of Asheville and Costco’s magazine.

Artist: Dawn Behling

Artist: Dawn Behling (dawnbehling.com)

Artist Dawn Behling has a collection of work inspired by nature that incorporates imagery from ocean life, trees and plants within her pieces. She layers textured materials and uses various techniques including screen printing and painting to create unique pieces. Behling studied textiles and weaving while earning her B.F.A. from East Carolina University and continued her education to receive a M.F.A. from Western Carolina University.

“The Art in the Airport program continues to grow and allows us to highlight regional artists,” said Tina Kinsey, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at AVL. “We are glad these artists are eager to share their artwork with the thousands of travelers through AVL each week so they get a better sense of the culture and beauty of western North Carolina.”

The exhibit is open to all guests and located outside the security checkpoint. Pieces can be purchased from the gallery by emailing art@flyavl.com.

Artists who reside in any of the eleven counties within AVL’s primary service market may apply for acceptance into upcoming exhibits. An advisory committee, made up of regional artists, participates in the selection process. Details about the program, including application instructions, can be found on the airport’s website at flyavl.com.


Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority welcomes new board member

The Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority (GARAA) is pleased to announce the addition of a new board member, Carol Peterson. Peterson was appointed by the Buncombe County Commission to fill a vacant seat on the board, and attended her first board meeting on October 11, 2013.Carol Peterson

Peterson received her master’s in Education Administration at University of Tennessee after graduating with a B.S. in Education from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She also has taken advanced studies in school administration at Western Carolina University. She spent 30 years serving the students of Asheville and Buncombe Counties through Asheville City Schools. In the community, she served on numerous political and non-profit boards including the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Review, Riverfront Redevelopment Board and United Way Board. Peterson is a former member of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, where she focused on building jobs and supporting local businesses. As a Buncombe County native, she plays an active role in the agricultural community there with her husband, Bruce.

“We are looking forward to having Carol serve as the newest member of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board,” said Dave Hillier, GARAA chairman. “Her extensive experience in the community will be of great value as we continue to ensure that Asheville Regional Airport is successful and an important cornerstone organization for the region.”

The GARAA is also served by Bob Roberts, Regional Executive Vice-President of First Citizens Bank & Trust Company and GARAA Vice-Chair; K. Ray Bailey, former president of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and former Buncombe County Commissioner; Jeffrey Piccirillo, hospitality industry executive; Andrew Tate, President & CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development; and Doug Tate, partner at McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A..


Serving Up a Slice of PIE

Today we are thrilled to announce brand new service on Allegiant from Asheville Regional Airport to the Tampa Bay area — St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport, to be exact. The new flights will begin in June and will operate on Tuesdays and Thursdays, giving Western North Carolina travelers the perfect opportunity to take a short flight (about an hour and a half) to a long weekend (Thursday to Tuesday, anyone?) in the beautiful gulf coast of Florida (yes, please). (more…)