Expanding MetroAir: How we come up with new routes

The Operations department here at MetroAir has been quite busy over the past few months. In all, we’ve added about 100 new routes to the schedules – not counting any charter or ferry flights.

Many of these new scheduled flights are new routes between cities MetroAir already services, but some destinations are new to MetroAir.

Whether the destination is entirely new or just a new route, the process is quite similar.

When evaluating possible routes, there are several factors to consider:

  • Existing schedules
  • Aircraft availability
  • Distance
  • Passenger figures
  • Competition

Ultimately, the most important factor is the passenger figure. We get the passenger figures from a database of all the airports in the US and many of the major airports around the world. The database lists the average passengers per day for any given pair of airports. Using this information, we can look up passenger figures for any two airports we like; as an example, I’ve included the data for Sacramento (SMF) and Phoenix (PHX):

Pax per day SMF-PHX

 Using this data, we can see, on average, there are 591 passengers that fly directly from Sacramento to Phoenix each day. This would be an excellent candidate for a route – or several.

Since the passenger figures support a route between these two airports, we now have to look at aircraft availability.

When looking for an aircraft to fill a route, it is important to look at seating – as well as competition along the route. If our competitors are flying 737-800s five times per day, it may not make sense to try to only put one Dash8 Q400 flight per day on that same route – we’d be crushed by the competition. So, we consider the competition aircraft and frequency to determine the type of aircraft we should use to fill this schedule, then we start to look at our available aircraft of that type and begin to fill the schedule.

When looking for new destinations, the process is much the same – we still must consider the passenger figures and competition before making any decisions – but once we do, our pilots start to see new flights appear on the schedule.

Even behind the scenes, we do all we can to make MetroAir as realistic as possible, and in the process of making our airline realistic, we try to show a professionalism not found anywhere else.


Rob Strain has been with MetroAir since May of 2012 and held the Director of Media & Marketing position since December. Previously, Rob served as the Fleet Director. He has had an interest in fly