Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Always High Prices. Always.
It has now been more than 10 years since Wal-Mart and their Northwest Arkansas Council of Corporations and Wealthy Business Executives hired Uvalde Lindsey and Scott Van Laningham to do their bidding and moved the all commercial airline flights to XNA in Bentonville. It would be more convenient for everyone, we were told, and the Fayetteville Cowbirds went along with it in the spirit of regional cooperation. It was more convenient for Wal-Mart and its vendors.
Now the big boys are tired of paying higher prices for flights from XNA. Earlier this year, XNA management executives Kelly Johnson, Terry Franklin, and Barbara Busiek drove to Tulsa and flew to DFW for a meeting with Federal Aviation Administration officials. The XNA airport authority paid $241.50 per seat for the flight from Tulsa, when tickets from XNA would have cost them $450.00 each that day.
Recently we learned that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a new policy to book "associate" business flights out of Tulsa, Fort Smith, or other airports if ticket prices at XNA are higher, which they usually are. Already the number of airline passengers departing XNA was down 17% last month compared with November 2007.
For the rest of us, declining boarding numbers can only mean that airlines will be reducing the number of flights or destinations. The trip to Tulsa will become more familiar, but it is much farther than was the old run to Fayetteville's Drake Field or even the current one to Bentonville's XNA.
Maybe the Northwest Arkansas Council of Corporations and Wealthy Business Executives and their subsidiary Regional Mobility Authority can persuade us to raise our local taxes to build a Western Beltway and a couple of Benton County By-Passes on the premise that it will make for a quicker trip to Tulsa International Airport.