Airport boardings don't soar

Feb. 18, 2013 @ 05:34 AM

The impact of Hurricane Sandy on airline service this past fall probably kept Piedmont Triad International Airport from welcoming more travelers last year than during 2011.
In late October and early November, PTIA lost several days of departures to key airports it serves in the Northeast because of the devastating storm. As a result, PTIA finished a little more than 4,000 travelers short of the same number of passengers boarding flights in 2011. The airport welcomed 888,773 passengers on departing flights during 2012, down 0.48 percent from the 893,099 boardings during 2011.
Without the impact of Sandy, PTIA would have finished the year up 1 percent to 1.5 percent compared to 2011, said airport Executive Director Kevin Baker.
“For four or five days, we had one-third of the flights not operating. That’s 20 flights a day, times four or five days, times the number of people you put on there,” Baker told The High Point Enterprise.
The narrow decline in passengers took place despite PTIA adding its first new carrier in five years. Frontier Airlines began serving PTIA in mid-November with one flight to Orlando International Airport, adding 2,078 passengers for the year.
Frontier’s impact on PTIA should intensify this year. On Monday, the airline announced it will begin direct service between PTIA and Denver International Airport on May 1. Frontier will give PTIA its farthest direct service in the western United States.
PTIA is served by six airlines that currently provide 54 daily, direct flights to 16 airports in the Northeast, South and Midwest.
PTIA’s generally flat passenger boardings last year compared to 2011 reflect the overall situation at airports across the country.
Boardings for a year period ending Sept. 30, 2012, at airports nationally were up 0.08 percent, according to the trade group Airports Council International of North America. That period doesn’t include the impact of Hurricane Sandy.
For small hub airports, scheduled flights are down 4.84 percent and the number of aircraft seats available is off 2.94 percent, Airports Council International reports.
The two main airports that compete with PTIA both reported passenger gains for 2012, though one of the airports was closer to PTIA’s flat year.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport recorded 4,624,843 boardings last year, up 0.9 percent from the 4,583,401 during 2011. However, Charlotte/Douglas International Airport welcomed 20,588,884 passengers boarding flights last year, up 5 percent from the 19,517,861 during 2011. | 888-3528