Spring is plenty busy at the Springfield airport — in April alone the total number of passengers rose 4.5%. That’s compared to the same month last year. The upswing promises to continue this summer as airlines bring more flights and bigger planes to Springfield. This growth comes after a banner 2014 when passenger numbers grew at an annual clip of 12%.
“Allegiant is the real show stopper,” says Brian Weiler, the airport’s director. “It’s increasing its summer schedule here a whopping 57% over last year.”
Allegiant flights to Orlando get the biggest bump. In June the airline will fly between Springfield and Orlando six days a week. That’s up from four days a week last June.
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“The increase in the Allegiant schedule will probably give the airport double digit passenger growth in June, July and August,” says Kent Boyd, the airport’s marketing and air service development manager. “It’s a strong indicator of continued improvement in the regional and national economies. People wouldn’t be buying Allegiant’s vacation packages in numbers like this if their budgets were hurting.”
Not to be left out, the other Springfield airlines are bringing bigger planes to the market. American, Delta, and United are all shedding some of their 50-seat regional jets:
- In June Delta begins using an Airbus 319 for one of its four daily flights to Atlanta. The 319 has 126 seats. It replaces a Boeing 717 (113 seats)
- In June United begins using a Bombardier CRJ-700 for one of its four daily flights to Chicago. It has 66 seats
- In July Delta replaces another 50 seat jet; this time with a Bombardier CRJ-900. It has 76 seats
- In July United replaces another 50 seat jet to Chicago with a CRJ-700
- In July United begins using a CRJ-700 for one if its four daily flights to Denver
- In July American begins using CRJ-900s on two of its seven daily flights to Dallas
- In August United replaces another 50 seat jet to Denver with a CRJ-700
“Here’s the bottom line: this summer the airlines will shed a total of seven 50-seat jets from their Springfield schedules,” says Boyd. “That’s good for a couple of reasons. Number one: the airlines wouldn’t bring bigger jets here if they couldn’t fill them. It shows that demand for air travel in Springfield is high. The second reason is comfort. Many people hate 50-seat jets because they’re cramped and stuffy. The bigger planes are a welcome relief.” Will 50 seat jets come back in the fall flight schedules? Boyd says it’s likely.
“Some 50-seaters will come back as the summer travel season winds down. There’s not much doubt about that. But some may stick around. Airline schedules for the fall are preliminary at this point, but they all show some bigger planes in the mix.”
Four airlines serve Springfield: Allegiant, American, Delta, and United. They provide service to ten non-stop destinations: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Punta Gorda/Ft. Myers.