Hitching Rides Pinches Airport Revenues

Revenues at the Nashville airport aren’t following a recent rise in passenger traffic.

More air travelers are acting like Mandy Walden.

WALDEN: “Will you call me when you’re out front please?”

Walden’s boyfriend dropped her off last week for her flight out of Nashville International. Now she’s waiting, somewhat impatiently, for her ride home.

WALDEN: “I wish I had my own car parked somewhere in the parking lot cause I wouldn’t be standing here in these high heels.”

But she says the slight delay is worth the $50 she’ll save not parking her car.

At the baggage carousel, Stephanie Cook says flying with a family of four is expensive as it is.

COOK: “We have to pay for the luggage also, so anywhere we can cut back, we try to do that.”

But where travelers are choosing to cut back is causing trouble for mid-size airports from Raleigh-Durham to Jacksonville, Florida. Like the Nashville airport, parking is their largest source of revenue.

REGALADO: “There seems to be a paradigm shift taking place.”

Raul Regalado is CEO of Nashville International, where parking has dropped 16-percent. To be more competitive, the airport is now matching coupons from off-site parking lots. If that doesn’t fill the spaces, Regalado says the airport could start charging airlines more, which would ultimately be passed on.

REGALADO: “If this is a long term situation, it could have a negative impact on the service provided to the community.”

Empty parking lots, Regalado says, could lead to higher ticket prices and fewer flights.

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