Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Frontier's exit continues to pummel boardings at Colorado Springs Airport

By Wayne Heilman Updated: August 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm

It's not the best of news for the Colorado Springs Airport, but it should come as no surprise:

Passenger traffic at the Colorado Springs Airport plummeted in June in the wake of Frontier Airlines' departure from the city two months earlier, falling by the biggest percentage since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The number of passengers who boarded flights totaled 56,628, down 30.4 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to a report presented Wednesday to the Airport Advisory Commission.

It is the largest year-over-year decline in passenger traffic since a 34.8 percent drop in September 2001, and continues a downward spiral that worsened when Frontier ended service to the Springs on April 7. The carrier's departure accounted for nearly three-fourths of June's decline. but the airport's four other carriers also reported traffic declines for the month.

During the first half of the year, passenger traffic is down 15.6 percent from a year ago to 328,539.

Airport officials are forecasting Frontier's departure will accelerate a steady decline in passenger numbers, reducing this year's annual total to a 22-year low. That projection, however, was made before Alaska Airlines announced plans to begin a daily flight to Seattle in November.

Dan Gallagher, the airport's interim director, said Wednesday that passenger numbers for July should stabilize, reflecting Delta Air Lines' addition of second daily flight to Atlanta on a seasonal basis and the use of a larger aircraft on its other flight.

Airport officials and Mayor Steve Bach have taken several steps to boost marketing efforts at the airport and encourage more local travelers to use the facility. The city recently hired a Reston, Va.-based aviation consulting company to boost marketing and help recruit more airlines and flights to the airport. A task force appointed last month by Bach also made a series of recommendations last week to help the airport reduce expenses to make it more attractive to carriers, including refinancing its debt, remodeling a dormant concourse for use by a federal agency and building a business center and lounge for frequent travelers.

Bach also said earlier this week he is holding off on hiring a permanent director for the airport and hopes to convince Gallagher to take the job permanently. Bach said Gallagher "is doing a great job" and that he would ask the Colorado Springs City Council to confirm him as permanent director - if he agreed to take the position.

Gallagher said he "reviewing my family obligations" after the birth of a son earlier this year before he decides whether to agree to take the post. He declined further comment.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman

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