Logan Airport Capital Projects

A protected connection between Terminal E and the Blue Line would speed things up a lot (assuming there are moving walkways), but we just need a damn people mover. Getting between terminals at Logan is a pain for the uninitiated and the shuttles being subject to all of the road traffic make them borderline unusable in some situations.
Yes, an APC is clearly needed. My wife and I just returned from a trip that involved flying out of A and returning via B. Because of a very late arrival time, I chose to drive to the airport (she took the T from work) in order to facilitate getting home more easily in the middle of the night. But I hadn't realized the two terminals involved, so I had parked very conveniently for Terminal A, which turns out was quite inconvenient for Terminal B. That was a very long walk, most of which didn't even involve any moving walkway.
 
Here is an idea that I've seen a few times over the last 30 years! LOL (Just move Logan.) I will spoil the reveal for everyone! Logan International gets the number one spot on his list.

Biggest problem is where do you build the new airport? Don't think there's ever be the political will to suffer the backlash of any nearby communities, many that are fairly wealthy in possible sites. There isn't empty space like Denver to build an airport in the middle of farmland.
 
Biggest problem is where do you build the new airport? Don't think there's ever be the political will to suffer the backlash of any nearby communities, many that are fairly wealthy in possible sites. There isn't empty space like Denver to build an airport in the middle of farmland.

TW - Crazy Transit Pitch: It'd never, ever, ever, EVER happen for a multitude of reasons, but Sim City god-mode part of me would love to see an airport built built on fill in the middle of Boston Harbor (leveling and connecting several of the Harbor Islands) in conjunction with a flood barrier connecting Winthrop and Hull (via the new airport) as part of rising sea level/climate change mitigation project.
 
Biggest problem is where do you build the new airport? Don't think there's ever be the political will to suffer the backlash of any nearby communities, many that are fairly wealthy in possible sites. There isn't empty space like Denver to build an airport in the middle of farmland.
Back in the late 80's or early 90's, there was serious consideration of Fort Devens in Ayer and someplace along the Blackstone Valley. I think maybe Uxbridge? Massport did a VERY serious study, and local groups in those two areas immediately formed "no-airport in my backyard groups." I think after the huge backlash, Massport quietly said..........OK, no way. :)
 
As a Boston-proper dweller, I think one of the best things about living here is my proximity to the airport, especially if a flight is early or late. Many business travelers feel the same, I know.

The solution I think is boosting capacity, amenities, and transit options between secondary regional airports, especially since narrowbodies are routinely making trans-Atlantic and transcon flights. ORH should capture a big chunk of the Western suburbs and central Mass, PVD grabs the deep South Shore, maybe MHT can entice some North Shore folks, and of course those in Southern NH. The PVD commuter connection is also pretty good as it stands, so it already has potential as a multimodal transit hub.
 
As a Boston-proper dweller, I think one of the best things about living here is my proximity to the airport, especially if a flight is early or late. Many business travelers feel the same, I know.

The solution I think is boosting capacity, amenities, and transit options between secondary regional airports, especially since narrowbodies are routinely making trans-Atlantic and transcon flights. ORH should capture a big chunk of the Western suburbs and central Mass, PVD grabs the deep South Shore, maybe MHT can entice some North Shore folks, and of course those in Southern NH. The PVD commuter connection is also pretty good as it stands, so it already has potential as a multimodal transit hub.
The problem there is the airlines don't really want to fly from those regional airports - unfortunately there's no money in it for them. It works prior to 9/11 and until 2005 or so, but not so much in today's aviation environment. It's more on airline willingness to see and serve a market than an airport can do to attract them.

Basically, regional air traffic growth has been concentrating at BOS, but not because of the regional airports not wanting the traffic. I'm sure the PVD and MHT airport directors primary task is grow passenger traffic any way they can, but it's been instead declining for years, and not because BOS has gotten that much easier to get to for passengers despite the Ted Williams. PVD and MHT both peaked in 2005, with 5.3M and 4.3M enplanements, and by 2022, that went down to 3.1 and 1.3M respectively - granted COVID depression, but in 2019 PVD managed 3.9M and MHT 1.7M. MHT in particular is way down since PVD still has a better local catchment, with MHT these days mostly seeing Spirit and Southwest flying from their for the lower costs compared to BOS. Over the same time period, BOS went from 27M to 36M, with an all time high of 42.5M in 2019.

A large part of this is due to the consolidation of airlines and the decline of regional flying. BOS had 409k aircraft movements in 2005. In 2019, despite moving 68% more passengers, it had 427k. That's largely due to more bigger planes, and fewer smaller ones. In an era of comparatively cheap jet fuel and wages, high frequency low cost small aircraft made a lot of sense in a world of hub and spoke flying, enabling you to go to a smaller airport and get anywhere in the world relatively quickly and cheaply. The problem is, especially after colgan 3407, regional operations are quite a bit more expensive for airlines, so it often actually costs more to fly out of MHT or PVD than BOS. Right now, there's a national pilot shortage, resulting something like 500 regional jets parked because there's nobody to fly them. If they prevail in court (trial is ongoing right now in Boston) JetBlue isn't buying Spirit for it's business model - that is expected to go away - but because it wants their planes and crews. Those regional aircraft were the bulk of flying at those regional airports, with the rise of LCCs and ULCCs blunting the fall somewhat.

The problem is it's also a Catch 22 - you see induced passenger demand when you have lots of cheaper flights to lots of places, meaning airlines introduce lots of service. MHT benefited hugely in the 90s when Southwest first launched in the Boston market out of MHT. You get amenties like new terminals when there are lots of passengers passing through to eat, shop, visit lounges etc, and especially if it's closer to home and has cheaper parking, it's an easy sell. Conversely, infrequent, expensive flights means you're more likely to drive to BOS, forget to even consider MHT or not fly at all, reducing the incentive for airlines to offer service, perpetuating the cycle. There's substantial incentives in place for incumbent airports and players, and It's why new airports like ex-mil ones like PSM (Pease AFB) or CEF (Westover) struggle to get commercial service going despite what looks like robust local catchment. ORH benefits from being owned by Massport which can hold Logan over the airlines heads.
The primary reason new airlines, especially low cost ones, choose those secondary airports was costs at BOS - but it appears that the fares and demand justify that, since even Allegiant, Spirit and Southwest, airlines famous for flying to secondary airports like Orlando Sanford and Chicago Midway, prefer growing in BOS. While Spirit and Southwest still maintain operations at MHT, allegiant at PSM - they're there for lower operating costs for cost conscious leisure travellers wanting to get to Florida, not because it's a robust market.

In short, the major carriers are flying bigger planes into bigger airports less frequently, and the smaller markets are getting beggared as the hub and spoke model that relied on small, cheap to operate and frequent regional flights to justify secondary markets is under strain. Many airports have lost service entirely in the past couple of years, and at many it's not expected to come back. How PVD and MHT are trying to get out of it is by courting ULCCs and LCCs as well as new entrants - Spirit, Breeze, Avelo, etc to bolster demand from players who can't justify BOS costs.
 
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Thanks for the detailed response and nuanced insights. aB never fails to bring find answers much deeper than I could imagine. Guess I'll keep counting my luck being close to Logan and having it all. I have to think at some point though, once Logan reaches absolute capacity, that remaining demand will support some amount of spillover to regional or local airports. Boston will never be LA, NY, or Chicago but the region remains poised for growth and I don't see air travel demand decreasing.
 
Thanks for the detailed response and nuanced insights. aB never fails to bring find answers much deeper than I could imagine. Guess I'll keep counting my luck being close to Logan and having it all. I have to think at some point though, once Logan reaches absolute capacity, that remaining demand will support some amount of spillover to regional or local airports. Boston will never be LA, NY, or Chicago but the region remains poised for growth and I don't see air travel demand decreasing.
Perhaps Hanscom could serve as a reliever airport? With a potential red line connection some distance into the future, it doesn’t seem like the worst idea. Plus it’s owned by Massport
 
The Hanscom area towns pitched an epic fit when Shuttle America tried to start service there. Now they are dead set against the Massport hanger project. The well-connected, affluent folks won’t let Hanscom grow past what it currently has.
 
Back in the late 80's or early 90's, there was serious consideration of Fort Devens in Ayer and someplace along the Blackstone Valley. I think maybe Uxbridge? Massport did a VERY serious study, and local groups in those two areas immediately formed "no-airport in my backyard groups." I think after the huge backlash, Massport quietly said..........OK, no way. :)

The study that you're mentioning is on Internet Archive, it was released in December 1990 and is titled "Second Major Airport Siting Study".
 
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Largely agreed with what you have to say here.

As someone who's moved around a bit, including residing further north for a time in the past few years - It feels pretty dumb to drive right past MHT to go to BOS, but the service levels are so hollowed out for MHT at this point that even as someone potentially fine with a connection, I struggle to make the flight schedules work without losing a lot of my day on one or both ends that I don't have to lose with a different airport.

Some other comments:

- Transit access is pretty bad to the secondary airports, which limits the city-dweller appeal, as well as the (admittedly, small) market for people being willing to depart/return from different airports + weird trips.

- I still find it odd that RI went to the trouble to build a MBTA extension to the airport but won't actually fund/run enough service to there to be remotely useful to anyone wanting to use the train to the airport. Every 2 hours on weekdays + zero weekend service certainly isn't going to get anyone to consider a flight out of PVD from Boston even if was really cheap.

As a Boston-proper dweller, I think one of the best things about living here is my proximity to the airport, especially if a flight is early or late. Many business travelers feel the same, I know.

The solution I think is boosting capacity, amenities, and transit options between secondary regional airports, especially since narrowbodies are routinely making trans-Atlantic and transcon flights. ORH should capture a big chunk of the Western suburbs and central Mass, PVD grabs the deep South Shore, maybe MHT can entice some North Shore folks, and of course those in Southern NH. The PVD commuter connection is also pretty good as it stands, so it already has potential as a multimodal transit hub.

BDL (Hartford) is arguably doing the best of the non BOS airports in New England - 2019 was just about back to their 2006 peak, can argue it has a better route network than PVD.

I think that adds to the obstacles for ORH - there's already an airport that's basically locked up the market for all the population concentrations to the West (Hartford, Springfield, general I-91 corridor) + is better positioned for some of those driving a while regionally to get to an airport - you'll see plenty of NH/VT plates in the parking lot.

To some extent it's even competition for Worcester-based customers themselves - it's 1-1.5hrs by car, it's basically viable as an alternative for BOS already.

I struggle to think of the way to grow ORH much more. Aside from Worcester itself + the 15 miles or so around it, you're running into the headwinds of any other market already having a non-BOS option with more service than ORH and close enough car trip times to the airport as ORH that convenience isn't a big sell - whether that's MHT, PVD, or BDL.
 
I struggle to think of the way to grow ORH much more. Aside from Worcester itself + the 15 miles or so around it, you're running into the headwinds of any other market already having a non-BOS option with more service than ORH and close enough car trip times to the airport as ORH that convenience isn't a big sell - whether that's MHT, PVD, or BDL.
Yeah, I don't think ORH has much of a market beyond Worcester itself without a direct highway connection. BDL has one and is pretty convenient for anyone west of Worcester, and BOS isn't too bad for anyone inside 495, particularly if you use Logan Express.
 
BDL (Hartford) is arguably doing the best of the non BOS airports in New England - 2019 was just about back to their 2006 peak, can argue it has a better route network than PVD.

I think that adds to the obstacles for ORH - there's already an airport that's basically locked up the market for all the population concentrations to the West (Hartford, Springfield, general I-91 corridor) + is better positioned for some of those driving a while regionally to get to an airport - you'll see plenty of NH/VT plates in the parking lot.

To some extent it's even competition for Worcester-based customers themselves - it's 1-1.5hrs by car, it's basically viable as an alternative for BOS already.

I struggle to think of the way to grow ORH much more. Aside from Worcester itself + the 15 miles or so around it, you're running into the headwinds of any other market already having a non-BOS option with more service than ORH and close enough car trip times to the airport as ORH that convenience isn't a big sell - whether that's MHT, PVD, or BDL.
BDL is also actually probably also pulling pretty heavily to its SE - I can imagine people from as far as Westchester and definitely Dutchess Counties in NY and Fairfield County, which are densely populated relatively, driving to BDL to avoid JFK/ LGA. I'd also point to PWM (the Portland Jetport) as another resilient airport in New England, even if they are smaller - They've actually grown service basically continually for the last decade, and are on track in 2023 to exceed 2019 highs.

ORH I agree will struggle to grow beyond its local catchment, but honestly... Massport has the clout of holding BOS over the airlines heads to basically force service expansion there that would only hollow out MHT more. I wouldn't have expected any service to come back after covid otherwise. Besides, if they seriously want airport no 2, its not necessarily a bad approach to grow ORH organically, get it to have enough service, enough passengers to start building better amenities and access over a long enough period.
 
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Thank you! What a walk down memory lane! It's an interesting read.
My takeaway, even as crayon on a map, all those sites were terrible for an airport. If that's the best they could find, then expanding MHT, PVD, and ORH (the option they went with) was obvious from the start.
 
Does Connecticut offer a lot of incentives to airlines to fly out of BDL? They seem to get some surprising routes. In 2021, I flew nonstop on JetBlue from BDL to CUN. It was like $500 less than a connecting flight out of BOS, and it was surprising they had the route in the first place. The Aer Lingus Dublin service is a surprise too. These don’t seem like routes either airline would launch without an incentive.
 
Does Connecticut offer a lot of incentives to airlines to fly out of BDL? They seem to get some surprising routes. In 2021, I flew nonstop on JetBlue from BDL to CUN. It was like $500 less than a connecting flight out of BOS, and it was surprising they had the route in the first place. The Aer Lingus Dublin service is a surprise too. These don’t seem like routes either airline would launch without an incentive.
You made me curious so I looked it up. There's an air carrier incentive program in place for marketing support, and discounts on rent and other fees depending on the level of service. (This is not uncommon; it's even got FAA guidance, look at how Massport helps JetBlue and co. market in the ORH market).

What's not nearly as common are multimillion dollar revenue guarantees. Note that You're not actually allowed to use airport revenues to subsidize flights - it either has to come from the community or the state. Some smaller airports have been using them to guarantee *some* service versus none like Cheyenne WY or Lincoln NE - they each hand a couple of million every year to United to keep regional service, since airline service equals economic potential for a lot of places - tourists in Wyoming, etc, state capital of Lincoln, etc, corporate offices. If you don't want that to go away, you need airline service. Caterpillar moved from Peoria to Chicago to be closer to a global air transit hub. Airline service has kinda become a proxy for economic potential - as the big cities boom economically, they get more air service. PVD, BDL still has lots of corporate HQs and what not that drive local demand, so they don't strictly need to - MHT might want to consider it, but NH isn't exactly blessed with abundant tax revenues.

CT on the other hand kinda hands out money willy-nilly so that residents can get to vacation spots easier. Aer Lingus got a contract worth 135k per flight for that Dublin service which in its first year meant a 4.5m payment from the state. Flights to Jamaica got a 2M deal for 2 years of service. However, that isn't a guarantee the flight will be a success - the subsidy on its own doesn't keep an airline flying there. In the above example, despite a 2 year subsidy deal Spirit pulled the plug after less than 6 months. I note the B6 CUN service also no longer exists - probably due to similar reasons.
 
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Aer Lingus does have something of a strategy of targeting smaller/secondary markets. In the context of serving two modestly sized metro areas, one of which is fairly affluent, and them not having access to international flights without driving in excess of two hours or significant backtracking by air a single seasonal flight to a good connecting hub and a popular vacation spot in and of itself doesn’t seem that out of whack. Pretty sure at one time Northwest ran a seasonal 757 to Amsterdam.
 
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