Medford airport records slowest January in five years

Fog, Eastern storms factor in seventh straight month of decline in traffic
Medford airport crews spray de-icing chemicals on an Air Alaska passenger plane Tuesday morning. Fog caused the grounding of all incoming and outgoing flights at the airport Monday night and Tuesday morning.Bob Pennell

Persistent fog in the Rogue Valley and winter storms in much of the rest of the country led to the quietest January at the Medford airport in five years.

The county-operated airport saw passenger activity decline 3.2 percent in January with 41,346 people passing through the gates, the fewest since 37,583 in 2009. It was the second-worst January during the past 10 years.

"The fog and nationwide weather had a real impact," Airport Director Bern Case said. "Airports back east are having tremendous challenges, so us being down 3 percent is not at all surprising."

It was the seventh straight month of declines for the airport.

"The delays and cancellations caused a lot of people not to fly," Case said. "Given the choice, people decided to go on the road; it definitely had an impact on us."

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air was the lone airline to see an uptick in activity, witg a 27.2 percent gain to 5,226 passengers. Horizon Air, an Alaska Air Group unit and the most active carrier in the Rogue Valley, was off last year's total by less than 1 percent. United Express was off 17.2 percent, while Delta Connection fell 6.2 percent.

Case said Horizon, which began basing crews in Medford 18 months ago, hasn't seemed fazed by the persistent fog.

"They picked us because we're good at staying open," Case said. "The fact they are down less than 1 percent is really good compared with their other locations."

Medford's 18 daily departures were two more than a year earlier.

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


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