WTAJ WEB 1ST: Record passenger counts for regional airport

Daily Originals

A record-breaking numbers of passengers are traveling through the DuBois Regional Airport in 2018.

While not much has changed with the airport itself, DuBois Regional Airport Manager manager Bob Schaffer said there’s one change to credit for the increase.

“We have a nice, clean facility,it’s got a nice, long runway, it’s got all the modern equipment, all the instrument approaches and so forth, but the big thing that’s changed is the airline,” Shaffer said.

In January 2017, Southern Airways Express started flying out of the airport, offering trips to Pittsburgh four times a day and Baltimore two times a day.

Since the change, the number of passengers has been growing.

This chart above shows the passengers passenger count for 2018 in blue. It can be compared to 2017 in dark green and 2016 in light green.

The biggest spike was in July and August, when more than 1,000 passengers flew in and out of the airport.

“So what Southern has done is go to the destinations people want to go to,” Shaffer said. “They’ve done it reliably and they’ve done it inexpensively. So those three things brought people back to the airport and out of the automobile.”

Shaffer said the reason why a small regional airport is able to not only stay alive, but also thrive is by having a successful community surrounding it.

65 percent of travelers come from other destinations into the airport.

“Once they arrive, they’ve got to stay in hotels, they’ve got to rent card, they’ve got to eat meals, so that all generates economic benefit for the local economy,” Shaffer said.

Passenger numbers for October are not yet available.

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