For today's Flying Friday post, I would like to quickly touch on the subject of airline diversions. Diversions to other airports is never fun for the passengers, nor for the airline crews who have to work the extra flight. Flight crews do not enjoy diverting to other airports either, especially if they do not feel comfortable in the airfield or the ground personnel who will be working the flight. However, for some airports, much like the one I work for, diversions are a gift from the aviation gods, which supports our airport greatly.
In the past, I worked for US Airways for four years, as a ramp agent and enjoyed every minute of it (minus the weather and being exposed to the elements). Thus, I am familiar with how servicing an aircraft operates and when diversions come to our airport, I get another chance to utilize these skills once again. Since our normal commercial service aircraft is a Saab 340 B+, 34 seat, twin turboprop aircraft, I enjoy seeing commercial jets grace our ramp. Since our airport was once served by a legacy carrier airline, yet now must utilize the Essential Air Service to maintain commercial service, we are limited to the size of airline and type of aircraft we can support. That being said, we are required to maintain a minimum of 10 passengers per day to keep our EAS funding.
When commercial aircraft are diverted to our airport and the passengers deplane the aircraft and reboard, we are able to count those passengers toward our goal of 10 passengers per day. Therefore, diversions may hinder airline operations elsewhere and upset passengers and flight crews greatly, for others in the industry, such as our airport, we thrive from diversions. In my office, I have a computer solely dedicated to watching the weather and tracking all inbound flights to Atlanta. When weather or traffic begins to build around ATL, we start noting the nearby aircraft, which may divert to our field. This allows the airport and operations personnel to be prepared in the event of a diversion.
So, the next time you are on a flight that is diverted to another airport, for whatever reason, and you may feel upset that you are in the middle of no where, please understand that the airport may actually be glad to have you there. Your aircraft may be making a significant difference to aid in the future of the airport. Oh, and please be respectful to ramp agents that handle baggage. Granted some are not as good as others, but it is a difficult and sometimes a very confusing job, so please be courteous. Thanks and happy flying!