2 percent increase in January traffic at Medford airport

Thanks to a combination of fog and radar issues, January wasn't the greatest month for commercial flight in the Rogue Valley.

Still, the Medford airport saw its seventh-straight year-over-year gain for the month, seeing nearly 2 percent more passenger traffic than January 2012.

Led by United Express' substantial gain and modest growth by Alaska Air Group unit Horizon Air, the airport passenger count rose to 42,721 in January after seeing 41,926 travelers a year earlier.

"If we can stay up 2 percent every month for the year that would put us in the record category, because we were within 1 percent of our all-time record last year," said Airport Director Bern Case.

January and February are generally the low-count months for the Jackson County-owned airport, but in seven of the past eight years, the passenger totals have topped 40,000 in the first month of the year.

"It's the time of the year when airlines make adjustments and if they target it right, they still do well," Case said, noting daily departures have declined to 17 from 19 a year ago.

Horizon Air had 20,288 passengers, a 2.5 percent pickup; United Express had a head count of 12,354, up 18.9 percent, while Delta Connection tumbled 13.7 percent to 4,193 and Allegiant Air fell off 16.6 percent to 4,110.

"We had a couple of fog days and a day when the control tower wouldn't let us use CASPER (the airport's fog seeding device),' Case said.

When major East Coast airports are closed by weather it has a ripple effect to the Rogue Valley, he said.

"I looked it up and between New York, Boston and Washington we have 30 to 40 passengers per day going there," Case said. "Some people end up going later and some just cancel. It doesn't have an impact on our flights or make them late. But if you're doing business in New York, it can cause you to cancel your trip."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

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