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Posts Tagged ‘prestige’

Salt Lake City, like Cleveland, is playing the prestige game. It wants flights to Europe–Paris, in particular. And it’s going to pay for them. But does Salt Lake need flights to Europe? That’s not clear. What is clear is that Salt Lake has irrational hub-loss fear, and that often goes along with the sort of civic boosterism that sees no problem in throwing money at a service that would be otherwise a market loser:

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce has pushed hard for a route to Europe.

“The chance of a direct flight to Europe would plant the seeds for many of the aspirations that we have for the business community, namely, to become a world city,” chamber spokeswoman Natalie Gochnour said.

I hope Utahns are satisfied with paying for Salt Lake’s “aspirations.”

Utah approves $250,000 for Delta flights to Europe [AP, via Today in the Sky]

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Second-tier cities in the United States often have self-esteem problems. They (that is, the boosters, chambers of commerce, and city fathers–the average citizen doesn’t much care) persuade themselves that if only they had X, Y, or Z, they would have more prestige. This is what persuades cities to drop hundreds of millions of dollars into sports stadiums, and also what persuades cities to make irrational policy decisions about air travel.

Cleveland recently gave up its dream of nonstop flights to Asia, currently the sine qua non of aviation prestige. The city had next to no chance of getting such flights: Continental’s hub at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is the airline’s smallest, and its only other transoceanic flights are seasonal routes to London and Paris. But a girl can dream, so Cleveland had planned to spend up to $54 million on extending a runway to attract these not-so-forthcoming flights. When expenses soared, Cleveland wisely put the prestige project on ice.

But Cleveland is at it again, offering (the article humorously refers to it as “investing”) $3.5 million in subsidies and waived landing fees to airlines who launch new service to Hopkins, especially in “the West and South and international destinations.” Ah, those favored “international destinations.” There go the city leaders again, trying to pay for prestige with public money.

Airport check-in: Cleveland: More direct flights wanted [USA Today]

See also: Why having a hub is not that big a deal.

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