Airport Insight: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Each day this year, The Blue Swan Daily uses the extensive insights available to CAPA – Centre for Aviation members to deliver a data snapshot on the world’s largest airlines and airports. Today, we feature Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHX; ICAO: KPHX), the largest and busiest airport in Arizona, United States of America (USA).

As a hub for American Airlines, albeit one of its smaller ones, and a focus city for Southwest Airlines, the mainline and LCC models collide at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Actually the fourth airfield to be constructed in the city after the owner of an established air company decided to develop a new site on some former cotton fields for hits base in the late 1920s, the international facility is now among the world’s 50th largest by both capacity and movements.

NETWORK: According to flight schedules from OAG for the week commencing 08-Jan-2018, Sky Harbor International Airport is directly linked to 116 destinations, with all but 20 of these currently being domestic markets, including medium-haul flights to Hawaii.  This is an 82.8% domestic share by destination, a percentage that increases both by capacity and movements. The international network is focussed on the Americas with eleven destinations in Latin America (ten in Mexico and one in Costa Rica) and eight across other points of North America, all of which are in Canada. A single key European link is a long standing British Airways service to London Heathrow, but this will be joined this forthcoming summer by a Condor link to Frankfurt.

AIRLINES: With its hub-and-spoke operation in Phoenix, American Airlines is the largest operator at Sky Harbor International Airport with a 44.9% share of capacity and a greater 49.3% share of aircraft movements during the week long analysis period. In the domestic market its 44.8% domestic share is just 7.2 percentage points greater than its nearest rival Southwest Airlines, while the gap in the international market is almost double at 14.0 percentage points (46.0% versus the 32.0% share of Canadian LCC WestJet Airlines). With LCCs in the number two positions in both domestic and international markets, the LCC penetration at the airport is a notable at 41.3% (Domestic: 41.6% and International: 35.3%). The American Airlines hub operation means Oneworld dominates the alliance connectivity with a 45.3% share of capacity, increasing to 53.7% when you just consider international flights.

DESTINATIONS: The biggest routes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International based on this week’s schedule are to to Denver and Los Angeles.  In terms of capacity Denver leads with a 5.0% share versus 4.5% at Los Angeles. In terms of aircraft movements it is Los Angeles that is at the top with a 4.9% share versus 4.4% at Denver.  Both markets are supported by more than 40,000 weekly seats, while routes between the airport and Las Vegas McCarran International, Chicago O’Hare International, San Diego International, Minneapolis/St Paul and Seattle Tacoma International have weekly inventories of more than 30,000 seats. The network from Phoenix to Mexico may outnumber the destinations served in Canada from Sky Harbor International, but it is the latter that is home to the largest international routes in terms of capacity. Calgary International (14.5% share) pips Vancouver International (13.5% share) into second place.  Edmonton International (10.3% share) and Toronto Lester B Pearson International (8.5% share) are ranked fourth and fifth, being split from the leading Canadian airports by Los Cabos International Airport, located at San José del Cabo in Mexico, ranked third (11.5% share). The key European link to London Heathrow is the sixth largest international market by capacity (7.8% share), boosted by the use of a Boeing 747-400 on the route.

CAPACITY: A second successive year of marginal capacity declines was recorded at Sky Harbor International Airport in 2017. System seats slipped -0.3% year over year to 51.2 million in 2017, following a -0.5% decline in 2016, according to OAG schedule data. This means that 2015 remains the peak year for capacity at the airport with 51.6 million seats. The decline is mainly due to a reduction in international capacity which fell -1.5% year over year in 2017, and marks the continuation of a downward trend that has seen levels decline -15.5% from almost 2.9 million international seats in 2012 to 2.4 million last year. In comparison domestic system seats have been relatively static over the same time period, actually growing +1.6% during the same five year period, albeit with a -0.2% year over year annual decline in 2017.

TRAFFIC: Having seen traffic levels decline slightly in 2012 (-0.4%) and 2013 (-0.3%), Sky Harbor International Airport returned to traffic growth in 2014 (+4.4%) and 2015 (+4.3%). Another decline was seen in 2016 (-1.4%) and that yo-yoing is expected to continue in 2017 with traffic figures for the first eleven months showing a +1.1% rise versus the same period in 2016. At this rate the airport is expected to have just fallen short of the 44 million passengers per annum high it recorded in 2015.

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