TRAVERSE CITY — Kevin Klein is no stranger to complaints about high airfares.
“I probably hear it every day,” said Klein, director of Cherry Capital Airport. “‘Your prices are too high.’”
Klein has no control over ticket pricing. Higher prices are a function of inventory and increased demand for trips to and from Traverse City, he said. Flights at the airport are at an 84 percent load factor, meaning they are, on average, 84 percent full.
That’s a high number in the aviation world, meaning more demand and higher prices.
“The challenge you have is at 84 percent inventory,” Klein said. “Your seats are sold out so fast so everybody complains that the fares are high. If you bought them on the day it was first sold, they would be pretty low.”
A recent check by the Record-Eagle on three trips shows Traverse City prices came in at $200 to $300 higher than flights out of Detroit, and roughly $150 higher than flights out of Grand Rapids (see accompanying story).
Klein said 2013 airfare prices dropped by 1 percent at Cherry Capital, compared to an average increase of 9 to 12 percent elsewhere. He urged travelers to keep in mind the true cost of traveling from other airports, including gas, parking, food, possibly hotel expenses, vehicle wear and tear and convenience.
“Sometimes it’s not a factor of fare but it’s a factor of schedule,” Klein said. “If you book ahead of time, you don’t have these problems.”
Klein also discussed Traverse City’s festival fatigue debate, summer service and what the future holds for the airport. Here’s what he had to say on:
Klein said he understands why some have grown tired of multiple festivals in Traverse City and their impact, but the debate over limiting festivals “really concerns me from an economic development (perspective,)” Klein said. “The festivals are very important to Traverse.”