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Winter storms pummel passenger traffic at Colorado Springs Airport

By: WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com
March 26, 2014 Updated: March 26, 2014 at 3:51 pm
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Travelers are seen cast in silhouette as they wait in line at the American Airlines checkin counter at the Colorado Springs International Airport in Colorado Springs in this December photo. (Kent Nishimura, The Gazette)

Mother Nature made a bad situation worse at the Colorado Springs Airport in January.

The airport - still reeling from Frontier Airlines' exit from the local market last April - was hit in January with cancellations triggered by winter storms. Those two factors, combined with flight cuts by other carriers, sent January's passenger traffic spiraling to the lowest level in more than 20 years.

The January total was down 24.5 percent from the same month in 2013. The 43,497 passengers who boarded flights in January was the fewest since February 1993, before the current passenger terminal was built and Western Pacific Airlines - now defunct - started to attract millions of fliers from across the state with its rock-bottom fares.

Traffic numbers have dropped by at least 20 percent every month since Frontier halted service to the Springs and were down 20.9 percent for all of last year to the lowest annual total since 1991.

The Frontier factor is no surprise, but the weather's impact was as unpredictable as the weather itself - not only in Colorado Springs, but nationwide. Relentless snow and ice storms led to the highest number of flight cancellations in more than 25 years throughout the U.S. according to an analysis completed last month by the Associated Press.

In January, the Colorado Springs Airport had 48 cancellations of flights that could have carried nearly 2,900 passengers - all but three of them United Airlines. Cancellations at the Springs airport worsened in February, when 51 flights were axed that could have carried nearly 3,800 passengers.

Passenger numbers were down for four of the airport's five carriers. The biggest declines were reported by United and Allegiant Air. Allegiant reduced service from a year ago but has announced plans to begin flights to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport twice a week beginning May 15.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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