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Columbia airport on verge of snapping losing streak


Columbia airport officials are optimistic the airport will reverse a seven-year losing streak in the number of passengers who pass through its gates.(Photo/Provided)
Columbia airport officials are optimistic the airport will reverse a seven-year losing streak in the number of passengers who pass through its gates. (Photo/Provided)

By Chuck Crumbo
ccrumbo@scbiznews.com
Published Oct. 16, 2012

Columbia Metropolitan Airport appears on the verge of reversing a seven-year losing streak in the number of passengers who pass through its gates.

Through September, enplanements reached 375,039, up 3.1% over 363,674 recorded for the first three quarters of 2011. Meanwhile, total passenger traffic for the nine months rose to 756,611, an increase of 1.8% when compared with 2011 figures.

“We’re pretty optimistic that we’ll end the year on a high note, the first time since 2005,” said Dan Mann, airport executive director. “Given the environment, I think it shows the strength of our market.”

Dan Mann, airport executive director
Dan Mann, airport executive director
The airport reached its high-water mark in 2005 when 732,625 passengers boarded flights at Columbia. Total passenger traffic for the year reached 1.46 million.

It also was the year when low-fare carrier Independence Air was still serving Columbia. Independence Air went out of business in January 2006.

Last year, the airport missed reversing the decline by 0.03%. The decrease is the smallest year-to-year comparison of passenger statistics since 2005, according to the airport. Between 2005 and 2006, the number of boardings dropped 12.25%.

Part of the increase this year appears to be driven by Delta Air Lines, which in July added a second daily nonstop flight to LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Enplanements for Atlanta-based Delta are up 5.43% through the first nine months of the year. Delta’s market share in Columbia has grown to 47% compared with 45% in 2011.

Airport officials anticipate more passenger business could be generated with United Airlines adding flights two days a week to Newark Airport in Newark, N.J., which serves the New York area.

The Newark service began Sept. 6. United reported a 1.33% increase in boardings for September. For the year, United is up 4.03%.

The airport also reported that its cargo business is on the rise. Through the first three quarters, the airport statistics show 24.08 million pounds of freight were loaded, up 5.4% compared with a similar period in 2011.

For September, 2.59 million pounds of cargo was loaded at the airport, down 1.2% compared with the same month in 2011.

FedEx reported a 23.3% increase in the amount of freight it handled at its terminal in September.

UPS, which operates its Southeast regional hub at the airport, reported freight was down about 9% for the month, but up 2.7% for the year. UPS handles about a third of the freight that is loaded at the airport.

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Comments:

Added: 16 Oct 2012

It makes no sense to fly the little rotten planes out of Columbia half way across America. When you can easily drive to Greenville, hop a nice Southwest Flight on a big 737, not pay extra baggage fees, get ripped off by Delta, have plenty of leg room, and a cheaper flight. Plus, parking at Greenville is low enough to pay for your gas compared to Columbia.

Bill