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Columbia airport reports increase in passenger traffic for 2012

Staff Report
Published Jan. 15, 2013

Columbia Metropolitan Airport recorded a 2% increase in the number of passengers boarding flights in 2012, snapping a seven-year losing streak.

For the year, passenger enplanements totaled 501,806, compared with 491,921 in 2011.

The last time the airport recorded an increase in passenger traffic was 2005, when 732,625 people boarded flights at Columbia.

Meanwhile, cargo traffic — an indicator of the health of local business and manufacturing community — increased 2.6% in 2012, according to the airport statistics.

“We're really pleased to see an increase in enplanements as that is an indicator that the economy is picking back up and also that our local community is continuing to recognize the importance of their support of Columbia Metropolitan Airport,” said Dan Mann, airport executive director.

“We're hoping that this trend is just the beginning in a pattern of growth that will ultimately allow us to better serve the Midlands and the many passengers who pass through the doors of CAE every year,” he added.

Among individual carriers, Delta Airlines posted a 4.4% increase for the year with 221,780 passenger boardings. Delta boosted its share of the Columbia market to 41% in 2012 compared with 40% for 2011.

“Delta is such a great partner to us at CAE,” Mann said. “In 2012, they added 200 additional seats (daily) to our market and they now offer the greatest number of options in regards to business and first-class seating.”

The year’s overall increase in passenger boardings happened despite a slight drop in December traffic. For the month, enplanements totaled 39,459, down 3.1% from December 2011’s tally of 40,723.

US Airways finished second among passenger airlines operating at the airport with 151,190 boardings in 2012, a 5.8% increase over the 142,922 enplanements recorded in 2011.

Over the year, nearly 33.265 million pounds of freight was loaded on flights at the Columbia airport compared with 31.453 million pounds in 2011.

UPS, which operates its Southeast regional hub at the airport, recorded a 0.11% decrease in freight for the year. UPS loaded 22.283 million pounds of cargo on flights out of Columbia during 2012 compared with 22.307 million in 2011.

For December, UPS freight traffic dropped 17.7% to 2.13 million pounds compared with 2.6 million pounds for December 2011.

A competitor, FedEx, recorded a 13.4% increase, loading 8.188 million pounds in 2012, compared with 7.218 million pounds in 2011.

FedEx freight traffic rose 0.9% in December to 663,000 pounds.

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