A record 246 million people flew this summer, with 20 of the 25 most traveled days on record occurring this year.
RELATED: Elder-Beerman hints at comeback following bankruptcy
At the same time, Dayton’s airport passenger traffic has decreased 6.5 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year. Dayton’s last small gain of 0.2 percent was in May 2017.
At the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, passenger traffic increased more than 11 percent in July compared to June and more than 16 percent for the year. The airport about 80 miles south of Dayton recently hit a new three-month record of 1.2 million local passengers taking advantage of its dropping airfare.
»BIZ BEAT: Southwest adding two nonstop flights to warmer climates from Cincinnati
“Right now, unfortunately the airlines are pushing a lot of our passengers into their vehicles and driving to get air service,” Slaybaugh said. “That’s what we would like to see a change in —bringing some of that service back to Dayton where the passengers, the customer, actually lives.”
Cincinnati’s airport was traditionally the most expensive in the country, with the average ticket costing $557 in the beginning of 2013. But everything changed for the airport when Frontier came aboard that year, followed by other low-cost carriers that brought the average ticket cost down to $328 in the first quarter of 2018.
“That additional low-cost service has been driving down airfares; we’ve been adding more flights,” said Mindy Kershner, spokeswoman for the Cincinnati airport. “All that is pulling in more passengers from our local communities choosing CVG over surrounding airports.”
That’s a major point of jealousy for other airports in the region, Ratliff said, because in the 1980s the Cincinnati airport was a busy hub, and the passenger counts now are exceeding even those numbers as the airport grows faster than any other in the country.
»RELATED: Kings Island owner hits record revenues
“It’s much more impressive when you see people driving to the airport,” he said. Those local flyers will buy gas, pay to park and eat in the city, furthering the local economy.
Some of the 13 percent increased capacity in Cincinnati this year is through new destinations; the airport recently announced seasonal nonstop service to Orlando and Phoenix, and there have been eight other nonstop domestic destinations and three international locations added this year.
Dayton has also added one new destination this year. The nonstop Houston flight serviced by United Airlines came back for the first time since 2011, a much healthier time for the Dayton airport when more than 120,000 flyers boarded planes during the busy June and July months, according to airport data.
The airport also recorded gains several months in 2011 through 2013, when neighboring Cincinnati residents would drive to Dayton to avoid the higher fares at their home airport.
»BIZ BEAT: Dayton city’s housing market lags behind rest of region
Slaybaugh said he’s still optimistic about the Dayton airport’s future.
“The airlines are going to continue to get equipment for the foreseeable future,” he said. “As long as they’re continuing to take aircraft deliveries and they’re growing capacity, then that’s always an opportunity for us to get more capacity.”
FIVE FAST READS
• Women-owned businesses becoming top earners
•Kroger partners with area college to ramp up tech in grocery industry
• Walmart to test new delivery method
•Temperature abuse caused Chipotle outbreak: 3 things to know about it
• Former Homearama luxury home listed for nearly $1M
FACTS & FIGURES
6.5: percent fewer passengers flying during the first 7 months of this year than last
16: percent increase in Cincinnati enplanements so far this year
246 million: passengers that flew this summer
$328: cost of average Cincinnati ticket
$404: average fare of Dayton flight
$346: national average ticket price