Allegiant recently flew its 500,000th customer from our airport. The half-a-million milestone was reached in May; almost exactly seven years after the low fare airline began flying from Springfield.
Allegiant began service here in April 2005 with low fare flights to Las Vegas. Flights to Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Phoenix, and Los Angeles followed.
The importance of the airline to this market should not be underestimated. Because of Allegiant people fly from Springfield who wouldn't have flown otherwise. That's because it's not unsual to find round trip fare on Allegiant for less than $200. And it's not just people from this area who are doing it. People come here from Tulsa. From Kansas City. Central Missouri. Northern Arkansas. St. Louis. They come here to fly on Allegiant.
Allegiant’s passenger milestone comes at a time that finds passenger numbers up in Springfield. For the period January through August, total passenger numbers were up 4.5%. Here’s how that compares with other airports in the region:
TOTAL PASSENGERS (ARRIVING & DEPARTING)
January through August, 2012, compared to the same period last year
|Northwest Arkansas||- 1%|
|St. Louis||+ 2%|
|Kansas City||- 1.4%|
Yes, our passenger numbers are bucking the trend. Will it continue? Our best guess is that we'll finish the year with flat passenger numbers, or up slightly. This forecast is based on the fact that the airlines have announced more nation wide capacity cuts (fewer seats in the air) for the rest of the year. Why cut? The price of jet fuel and the sluggish economy. While this may sound dreary, it's a whole lot better than last year...we finished 2011 with an 8% decline in passengers, and a 21% cut in capacity. So this year is much, much better.