What is Leakage? Why is it important?

Leakage is an air service development term.  We thought we’d help educate you about why it’s important.

Let's talk leakage. Surely everyone is familiar with leaks of some kind. We've all had a leaky faucet or a flat tire. Leakage, as most know it, is something escaping from where it should be confined. Whether the thought of a leak makes you think of water, air, or something else, the general concept is likely the same. In the airport world, leakage is what occurs when passengers from one airport's core market drive to another airport to catch a flight. 

In the vast majority of leakage situations, passengers from smaller cities drive to larger cities to fly. This can happen for many reasons. Some drive to the larger airport to catch a nonstop flight, as opposed to a connecting flight from their hometown. Others may hit the road as the result of a lower fare to their final destination. Ironically, many people who drive hours to save money on their fare may or may not save any money at all after adding up the value of time spent, gas, and other expenses associated with traveling to a farther away airport.

Why should you care about leakage? What’s the big deal? Thinking locally, the Asheville Regional Airport leaks passengers primarily to Charlotte and, to a lesser degree Greenville and Atlanta. While our flight options and passenger numbers continue to grow, there still exists a fair number of people who opt to fly from another airport. When someone who lives closer to Asheville drives to Charlotte to fly, they’re actually contributing to the reason they chose to drive in the first place.

Let us explain.

As more people fly from our local airport, the airlines add bigger planes and flights to new places; each of which tends to lower fares over time (think supply and demand). This also increases opportunities for visitors and business travelers from other places to come to our region and spend money. The money you spend on your ticket ultimately puts more money into the local economy. Leaving the area to fly has the opposite effect. Fewer passengers leads to fewer planes, fewer destinations and higher fares… it’s a vicious cycle!  Right now, AVL is in a position in which airlines are offering excellent connectivity, more seats on larger planes, and yes, the planes are pretty full.  The region’s air travelers are using AVL more than ever before, which is great news!

We hope this information helps you understand why we ask our region to “check AVL first.”  The next time you’re about to book a flight from another airport, think about how much you’ll actually be saving and if your time is worth it. Of course, if you’re saving hundreds we don’t blame you. But if the savings isn’t that great to fly from an airport that’s two-hours away, it’s probably worth thinking twice about that 4 hours in the car — for you, and for your local economy!