January 24, 1995 in Nation/World

Local Air Traffic Tops Record Third Straight Year

Michael Murphey Staff Writer
 

Travelers continued to arrive and depart from Spokane International Airport in record numbers during 1994.

The year marked the third straight double-digit annual increase in passenger traffic as airlines offering low cost fares continue to bring more and more travelers into the Spokane air travel market.

According to figures released by airport officials, 1,345,267 passengers boarded commercial aircraft at Spokane International Airport in 1994. That represents a 15.2 percent increase over 1993, which itself was a 26 percent increase over 1992.

Since 1991, when only 795,080 boarded planes at the airport, departing passengers have increased 69.2 percent.

The dramatic increases started in 1992 with the arrival of Morris Air Service in the Spokane market. Morris’s discount fares, based on the Southwest Airlines model, forced other competitors in the Spokane market to drastically lower fares, driving the prices down enough that large numbers of travelers who previously drove to their destinations found flying a cost-competitive alternative.

In late 1993, Morris was acquired by Southwest, which continues to keep competitive costs down with its low fares. Earlier this month, another discount carrier, America West Express, announced its entry into the market with non-stop Spokane-Phoenix flights.

The number of passengers arriving and departing through Spokane International Airport in 1994 was 2,687,482, a 15.3 percent increase over 1993.

Despite the record number of passengers, flight operations at both Spokane airports were down for the year. The number of flights decreased by 15.8 percent at Spokane International, reflecting the departure of United Express from the Spokane market.

Flights at Felts Field Airport were off by 2.8 percent for the year. United Parcel Service relocated from Felts to Spokane International, accounting for much of that decline.

Air cargo shipments increased by 15.6 percent at Spokane International during 1994, and declined by 70 percent at Felts Field.


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