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Airport traffic down 15 percent this year

Spokane International Airport reported a 15 percent decline in passengers in the first quarter of the year versus the same period in 2008.

In the first three months of the year, the airport handled 703,541 passenger boardings, down from 768,961 a year ago.

March traffic was down 13.6 percent over March 2008, the airport said today.

Much of the decline year over year is due to the departure last year of regional startup Express Jet, which drew about 20,000 passengers in the first three months of 2008. That service ended in September.

Carriers that reported fewer passengers in the first quarter include Frontier (down 36 percent), Horizon (down 23 percent), Delta (down 23 percent), United (down 11 percent), Southwest (down 9 percent) and Northwest (down 3 percent).

Some carriers have seen a boost in passengers since the first quarter of 2008. They include Alaska (12 percent), SkyWest (7 percent) and U.S. Airways (4 percent).

Cargo traffic is down sharply as well. The airport saw a 14.7 percent drop in cargo quarter over quarter, with 11,416 tons moved in the first three months this year.