While Dayton aviation director Terry Slaybaugh originally called the departure a “blow” to the airport, it’s not the only city that Southwest has abandoned in recent years. Dayton is among 21 airports that Southwest has exited since the AirTran merger was announced in 2010, according to Volaire Aviation Consulting.
In that same period of time, the airline announced new service in only five airports in the U.S. mainland, including CVG. Since June 2016, Dayton airport officials have met with 10 airlines — such as Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue — to talk about increasing air service.
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Slaybaugh told this news organization that the airport is also working with existing partners to increase the number of seats available with larger airports. He said 2018 could be a good year for the Dayton airport, and American Airlines’ capacity is expected to increase more than 16 percent in December compared to the same time last year.
American — which serves more travelers than any other airline at the Dayton airport — will operate 1,615 seats per day each way in December, versus 1,386 seats per day each during the same month last year. American also served more customers last month — 35,110 passengers — out of Dayton compared to August 2016.
Allegiant has steady grown at the airport, too, after adding services in April 2016.
While Columbus did not have data available for passenger traffic in August, the airport saw strong gains for the first half of the year. Nearly 3.7 million people traveled through the terminal from January through June, a 4.3 percent increase compared to 2016.
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“Passenger and air freight carriers are capitalizing on the dynamic opportunities that continue to arise in the Columbus region, enabling our airports to offer additional travel options for passengers and strategic opportunities for businesses,” said Elaine Roberts, CEO of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.
As a smaller airport, Dayton faces stiff competition the Cincinnati and Columbus airports — which both ranked in J.D. Power Ratings for overall passenger satisfaction.
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Cincinnati has excited travelers this year with flashy announcements about new airlines. WOW air will add services to the airport next year, offering discount tickets to Iceland and cities across Europe. Since May 2013, CVG has added five new carriers and introduced more than 50 new flight options to its network of 57 nonstop markets.
Ticket prices are also playing a part in more travelers going to the Cincinnati or Columbus airports. The average fare from the Dayton airport is the highest among regional airports.
Dayton’s airfare decreased to an average $397 in the first quarter of this year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That’s a fair drop from the $428 average during the same time period in 2016. It’s still not as low as Dayton’s average airfare was in 2014, when it went down to $389.
CVG’s average airfare dropped to $386 for the first quarter of 2017, compared to its average price of $430 during the same time in 2016. John Glenn Columbus International Airport’s airfare was cheaper than both Cincinnati’s and Dayton’s average airfare for the first quarter — coming in at about an average of $385. Indianapolis has the cheapest average airfare currently with $364.
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BY THE NUMBERS
• 362,500 originating passengers traveled through CVG last month
• 14 percent decline is passenger traffic record in August 2017 at Dayton airport compared to August 2016
• 3.7 million people traveled through the Columbus terminal from January through June 2017