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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Quickies: GFK impact, ultimate fighting in EGF

* Grand Forks International Airport lost a good chunk of its market share between 1994 and 2004, according to a new survey by the state Aeronatics Commission. Boardings have been dropping for a while now, so this not especially surprising, but the 10 year data does put things into perspective. Notice how Fargo and Bismarck have been growing and how Grand Forks and Minot shrank.

Poor Grand Forks, so far from heaven so close to Fargo.

On the other hand, for some weird reason, airline passengers are spending way more money when they stay in town. Adjusting for inflation, average spending per passenger jumped from $260 in 1995 to $618 in 2005. This is the case statewide. It jumped from $287 in 1995 and $729.

Anyway, the big news is the state is touting is that GFK had an economic impact of $93.1 million in 2004, most of that from spending by travelers.

* I mentioned Catfish Days in the last post but forgot to mention the entirely separate event that follows called "1st Annual Ultimate 'Catfish' Fighting." Despite the name, no catfish will be hurt in the event. Just humans. The fight is at 7:30 p.m. in the parking lot behind East Grand Forks' Riverwalk Centre mall. Cost is $20 for adults, $15 for those 16 and under. The event promoter is Butch Hajicek, a local boxer who teaches at the same boxing gym I go to (No, I'm not hitting anybody yet).

Butch organized the last ultimate fight event, the Tuffman competition, this past winter at the East Grand Forks Civic Center.

* Off topic: A different twist on AOL's disclosure that it had release the search records of its users.

Update 7:32 p.m., 8/8/06: Follow up: Forgot to mention last night that the deer feeding ban passed its first reading. For some reason, this fear of a Bambi population explosion centered on the Greenway reminds me of that Star Trek episode with all the tribbles.

* Urban development director Greg Hoover said Central High School students will still be able to park at the Civic Auditorium parking lot. The city earlier wanted to move them to the lot down by Riverboat Road to make room for a possible tenant at the civic. Looks like he's not anticipating that deal to come through any time soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The decline of the Grand Forks International Airport has now been spun into a positive economic impact story?

I'm not buyin' it.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous ec99 said...

Any convenience in flying out of GFK is more than negated by the cost of a ticket.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the word is getting out that ticket prices have been reduced making GFK flights cheaper than Hector.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is some interesting spin on the airport story. I'm very excited about the new Herald series starting this weekend. The first installment features a follow up on the grandma pistol whipper. The series is entitled...

Grand Forks Youth: Finding New Exciting Things To Do With Their Freetime

1:09 PM  
Blogger Tu-Uyen said...

Any convenience in flying out of GFK is more than negated by the cost of a ticket.

It really depends on the situation.

I just got tickets to Copenhagen on Expedia and NWA flights out of Grand Forks and Fargo were exactly the same. The range of prices for other airlines were also similar.

I checked Minneapolis-St. Paul, too, and it's about $150 cheaper there. But it would cost at least $100 just for gas. Plus, I didn't want to drive four hours back to town after sitting in a sardine can for 12 hours.

The point is, it is always worth it to check if GFK is cost-effective or not. That doesn't always mean it's the best deal.

That is some interesting spin on the airport story.

Which story are you reading? Mine says in the very first paragraph "Despite a dramatic decline in the number of boardings..." The big graphic to the right shows GFK losing market share. That's a pretty funny kind of spin.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous ec99 said...

"But it would cost at least $100 just for gas."

What do drive, an 18-wheeler?

2:38 PM  
Anonymous ec99 said... you drive...

2:38 PM  
Blogger Tu-Uyen said...

It takes a little more than a tank of gas (15 gallons or so) for me to get down to the Cities. And I don't mean the edge of town, which is closer but to my destination in town. Double that for the return trip and, at $3, that's $90. In the cities, it's probably a little more than $3 a gallon.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Tu-Uyen said...

Ah, I see my mistake. I don't immediately run out of gas when I get home. There's usually 3 or 4 gallons left. But that's still plenty of money for gas.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous ec99 said...

I'm not denying there's a cost to drive to the Cities in terms of gas. Problem is, there are times when you have to go somewhere not served by NWA, or you can't make same-day connections. Years ago, NWA absorbed the cost of the GFK-MSP connection if you continued on.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Tu-Uyen said...

You're right but NWA does have partnerships with some other airlines. I'm actually using another airline to go to Copenhagen. NWA is only the link to the cities.

My point was, on a case by case basis, GFK can be as convenient as its advertising says.

Years ago, NWA absorbed the cost of the GFK-MSP connection if you continued on.

Have you any idea if any other airline does that still? Sounds like a great deal.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does quantifying impact of the airport qualify as spin? Any airport has an impact whether there are 100 boardings a year or 100,000.

You could argue with the methods used to calculate the impact, but you didn't.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Tu-Uyen said...

Yeah, I had a few thoughts about methodology but, in this business, you have to be careful not to get too technical. Readers aren't stupid but they usually don't have time to read everything that can be written on any one topic -- not unless it's seriously a hot scoop.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous ec99 said...

"Have you any idea if any other airline does that still? Sounds like a great deal."

Maybe those that actually have competition.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right, Tu-Uyen. I was meaning to address the guy calling it spin. I think he was calling the study "spin" moreso than your article. He could have addressed the study itself, but just labeling it spin makes him "win" instantly because it's not really a point that can be argued without looking at the methodology--which he didn't.

I don't have a problem with your report on this. Actually I felt the story had more to do with declining boardings than it did the impact.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Changing the subject a bit....if the economic impact figures of the airport, Alerus, GFAFB, and UND were combined, we would could all quit our jobs and retire early.

Seriously, how do they come up with such ridiculous numbers? It really appears that these numbers are intentially inflated beyond realistic belief.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Tu-Uyen said...

I hear ya on this one. The big question is really the multiplier. Every dollar spent generates another dollar, etc. That's how you get these huge numbers.

I'll grant that some institutions, by drawing people who might not have otherwise come to town, do bring outside dollars into the local economy and create spin off jobs. But the question is did they actually bring those people to town or not.

In the case of the airport, I'm not sure that that's the case. I'll preface by saying that I think the airport is vital to the region. But it's not a people magnet. Airline passengers are coming to meet family or to do business, but they're not coming to visit the airport. The airport is a facilitator and, arguably, benefits from some other institution that is actually is a people magnet.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Conservative Yahoo said...

I am going to colorado this weekend and the tickets were about the same price between Fargo & GF. The difference is about a 3 to 5 hours layover in MN or a 3 hr. straight shot to CO. I'm driving to Fargo. Sorry.

9:12 PM  

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