Southwest’s exit leads to drop in passengers in Dayton as busy summer season begins

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Here's what you need to know.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

As passenger traffic continues to decline at the Dayton International Airport, airports in Cincinnati and Columbus are seeing increases as the busy summer vacation season begins.

Around 93,244 passengers flew out of the Dayton airport in May, more than 3,000 less than the year before during the same month. For the year, 405,659 travelers have flown from the Dayton airport compared to the 416,023 passengers who flew in the same time period last year.

May was the last full month of service for Southwest Airlines at the Dayton airport, and 10,189 travelers flew with the air carrier. Southwest halted services in early June, in favor of adding services at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

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Terry Slaybaugh, aviation director for Dayton, said May’s decrease wasn’t anything major. However, the airport will see a larger decrease in passenger traffic next month, reflecting Southwest’s departure.

“Do we wish we were flat or up a little? We always do,” he said.

He said the airport will likely see a decrease in passenger traffic overall for 2017, but Slaybaugh has big hopes for luring in new carriers and different flight options in 2018. The airport continues to talk with the remaining legacy airlines serving the airport — Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines, and has also added several new destinations thorugh Allegiant Air within its first year of service in Dayton.

Dayton saw an increase in passengers who flew with Allegiant Air in May, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary of service at the airport.

Around 3,853 passengers flew with the low-cost carrier in May, a more than 1,000 increase from May 2016. Part of that increase can be attributed to new routes added at the Dayton airport, including a new flight to Myrtle Beach that started on May 24.

The Dayton airport will need to spend $130 million in infrastructure improvements in coming years, an investment that could lure in passengers and airlines, Slaybaugh said. Some of the proposed plans include a sanitary sewer improvement project for $8 million, $13 million to revamp parking at the airport and $22 million on terminal structure rebuilding projects.

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While Dayton saw an overall slight decrease in passenger volume, some larger airports continue to thrive. More passengers flew out of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport last month than ever before.

Local traffic was up more than 16 percent year-over-year with 323,049 originating passengers, compared to 278,344 in May 2016, representing 44,705 new travelers coming through CVG’s front door. That’s more than any other month in the airport’s 70-year history.

“At CVG, we’re embracing what’s next and planning for a bright future, as we work to continue breaking records by growing both passenger and cargo operations, and lowering airfares,” said Candace McGraw, chief executive officer for CVG.

» RELATED: After Southwest departure, what's next for Dayton airport?

In May, CVG offered nonstop service to 47 domestic and five international destinations, more than any other airport in the Tri-State region. CVG passengers, on average, are paying $170 less per round-trip ticket than they were two years ago.

John Glenn Columbus International Airport in Columbus also saw an increase in passenger traffic. For May, the Columbus airport served 3.4 percent more passengers than during the previous May. This year remains on track to overtake 2007 as the record year for passenger traffic at John Glenn airport, according to The Columbus Dispatch.


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