Eagle County airport reports 8 percent rise in passengers | VailDaily.com

Eagle County airport reports 8 percent rise in passengers

Cliff Thompson

From the number of people flying into the Eagle County airport, it appears the air travelers are returning to the skies.

Commercial air traffic at the Eagle County Airport for the first two months of 2004 is up 8 percent over last year. A total of 82,806 commercial air travelers used the facility, compared to 76,572 during the same period last year.

“We are reversing the trend,” said Jack Ingstad, Eagle County administrator. “If we have a great March and a good summer, we could end up with a record year.”

During the record year of 1998, 188,745 people used the facility. Numbers declined after that and reached an apparent nadir in 2002, when 115,000 used the facility during the peak winter months.

Last year’s numbers, though down about 500 passengers from the previous year, were bolstered by regular summer direct flights. In 2003, 170,601 flew in and out of the facility.

While January 2004’s passenger total, 39,997, was up 2.3 percent, February’s total, 37,507, was up a whopping 12.4 percent. If current numbers hold through March the airport should experience a new winter record for passengers that could approach 125,000 for the three months.

January’s passenger total was trimmed when the airport was closed on one of the busiest days of the year, Jan. 3, by a snowstorm. That forced many commercial air passengers to drive to Denver and catch a flight from there.

March is the busiest month at the airport, and last year, 48,403 passengers used the facility.

Rental car use at the airport climbed 15.3 percent in January alone, Ingstad said. Total rentals at the facility were $2.96 million in January compared to $2.56 million the previous January, Ingstad said.

He’s attributing the increase in business in part to the county mailing an airport promotional piece to all post office box-holders in Eagle, Summit, Grand, Routt and Pitkin counties, and an improving national economy.

The airport is served by United, American, Continental, Northwest, U.S. Airways, Delta, Mesa Airlines and Air Wisconsin.

Cliff Thompson can be reached via e-mail at cthompson@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.

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