For Immediate Release
Springfield Airport Bucks National Passenger Decline
It’s good news in hard times—the Springfield-Branson National Airport is the only major airport in the region to finish 2009 with positive passenger growth. The airport posted a four percent increase in total passengers, when compared to the year before.
Springfield’s growth came despite an 11 percent cut in the airport’s 2009 flight schedule. Similar cuts occurred at airports across the country.
“By any measure, 2009 was a very difficult year in the aviation industry,” says Gary Cyr, airport director of aviation. “In response to the recession and high fuel prices the airlines cut service across the country. For our airport to have positive passenger growth in these hard times is extraordinary.”
“In 2009, the nation’s airports experienced approximately a 6% decline in passengers,” says Michael Boyd, nationally known aviation analyst. “Springfield’s growth clearly underscores a strong regional economy and laser-focused airport marketing. For 2010, our independent forecasts indicate a 2.8% increase in Springfield passengers, compared to an estimated 3.2% decline for the nation as a whole.”
Why did Springfield do so well in 2009 while other airports suffered? “It was a combination of factors,” says Cyr. “We can’t single out any one thing.” The factors include:
- Low fares. In the fourth quarter of 2008 airlines began lowering fares in response to poor sales. The low fare trend continued through 2009.
- The airport’s new passenger terminal. The impact of the new terminal is hard to quantify, but there’s no doubt that the building’s “wow” factor, along with its ease of use, have helped draw more customers to the airport.
- New terminal advertising and media attention in the first and second quarters raised public awareness of the airport.
- Allegiant Air growth. In 2009 the low fare airline grew its passenger numbers 42 percent in the Springfield-Branson market.
- The new airport south of Branson. When that airport had service to Dallas, American airlines in Springfield matched Branson’s fare. Bottom line: the Branson airport created airline competition.
- The relative strength of the SW Missouri economy, compared to other regions of the country.
“To do so well, during difficult economic times, is very important. Bottom line: our market’s robust demand will cause airlines to give us a second look when they’re considering new or expanded service. It also makes us less prone to cuts,” says Cyr. But with the good news comes a note of caution.
“Our forecast is good for 2010, but our passenger numbers could go down,” warns Cyr. “The price of oil could spike. The apparent economic recovery could sputter. A terrorist attack could cause demand to plummet. It’s good news for now, but these are uncertain times.”
Download the full report including charts and tables of passenger statistics. (PDF)
For more information, contact: Kent Boyd, 417.868.0500 x2008; cell 417.844.2255