Airport posts record passenger traffic in March

By George C. Ford, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Despite one of the toughest winters in the last 20 years, The Eastern Iowa Airport continues to set records for passenger traffic.

A total of 109,793 passengers used the regional airport in March. That broke the previous record of 98,435 passengers set in March 2013.

“March was a busy month for us,” said Airport Director Tim Bradshaw. “It was the first time since we expanded the parking lot that we had to go into overflow parking. We knew it would be a good month, but to see more than a 10 percent increase over last year was astonishing.”

The 10.6 percent month-over-month increase brought the year-to-date increase to 7.7 percent over the same period of 2013.

February also produced a second straight year of record number of travelers with 82,830 passengers, eclipsing the previous same month record of 79,359 passengers in February 2013.

A total of 83,664 passengers used the airport in January, topping the previous same-month record of 81,690 passengers in January 2007. And 89,869 passengers traveled through the airport in December, surpassing the previous same-month record of 87,552 set in December 2002.

Possibly contributing to the increase in passenger traffic is a marked decline in average airfares, according to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics that looks at inflation-adjusted average domestic itinerary fares.

The Eastern Iowa Airport has seen a 35 percent decrease in the average cost of domestic itinerary fares since 2000 from $569.57 in 2000 to $370.29 in 2013. On a year-over-year basis, the average fare declined from $443.25 in 2012 to $370.29 in 2013.

Bradshaw said the record passenger traffic is producing constraint issues at the airport.

“We are back to where we were before the recession,” Bradshaw said. “It is really driving our improvement projects and moving some items up on the list.”

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