That's right...many an "Air Service Development Plan" falters because the airport to which a community is trying to attract commercial airline service to...has operational characteristics that preclude service by the aircraft and airline market they are looking to attract.
Airline guarantees, subsidies, marketing or other incentives are inconsequential to your airline service development efforts if your airport can not be flown into by the airline/aircraft your community is targeting!Airline Operational Conditions...while often difficult to understand...can make the answer easy to a communities request for airline service when the answer is no. Airlines first and foremost are focused on providing SAFE transporation from point A to point B. If the airport has a short runway for it's elevation or obstacles that force extreme take-off or landing situations that an aircraft cannot handle then an airline won't be able to serve you. If the airline can make it in and out of an airport but has to restrict airline seats it can sell then this to can preclude an airline from coming to your community.
So...the first question that should be asked as it regards your airport and gaining airline service should be: "What aircraft can operationally fly into our airport and from the markets we desire air service from?!" Additionally the community air service development effort should consider...does the airlines we're considering approaching about airline service have these aircraft in the markets within a range where they can safely and economically sustainably serve your community?
If the answer is no...then you need to consider other market service options or look at the airport infrastructure (Runway Length, Elevation, Obstacles etc...) and improve the conditions of the airport to expand the aircraft types and mileage ranges of these aircraft that can service your community.
I know from personal experience that some things can't be done...In Telluride we have the highest commercial airport in the United States at over 9000 feet high...we can't lower the mountain. We can look at runway length and approaches which we are doing. Additionally we're clarifying the aircraft and mileage ranges these aircraft can fly in from so that we don't waste our time pursuing aircraft that won't be able to sustainably fly into Telluride.
Recommendation: Save yourself some trouble...before getting too far down the road of airline service development...1) know what is possible aircraft and market/distance from airport-wise and 2) Focus on airlines that could provide service from those markets as targets for your air service acquisition efforts.
A Blog from Scott Stewart at Community Flights: firstname.lastname@example.org