The Medford airport extended its run of record passenger counts in September when 74,411 travelers passed through the gates, giving the airport 25 straight record months.
The total was 12.3 percent over the previous September's 66,285 passengers. Through nine months this year, the county-owned airport has seen 619,746 passengers, 9.7 percent more than a year ago.
Micki Summerhays, owner of Carrousel Travel in Phoenix, said a variety of elements continue to fuel the airport's growth, including destinations that provide links for East Coast or international travel.
"The fares out of Medford have become more competitive, with more airlines flying than in the past, and there are more airports to fly to than we had 10 years ago," Summerhays said. "Alaska goes to Los Angeles and Seattle, Delta to Salt Lake City, and United to San Francisco, so there is more competition in the pricing than there was several years ago."
Even with school back in session, September's numbers far exceeded the heart of summer vacation season for any year prior to 2015.
"The senior population has the money and time to travel, but there are a lot of younger families traveling, as well," Summerhays said. "I think people are starting to recover from the recession, and as a result they have a lot more discretionary money to spend. They're using it to travel on the vacation they've put off for quite a while."
United Express saw a 32.4 percent jump in passenger count, Allegiant rose 19.1 percent and Delta Connection travel increased 16.8 percent. Alaska Air Group's Horizon Air unit saw a less than half-percent decrease.
For years, many travelers opted to drive to Bay Area, Sacramento or Portland airports because fares were far cheaper than leaving from Medford. Summerhays said for the most part that's no longer true. The exception, she said, is for families traveling to Mexico.
"A lot of people used to travel to Portland to get nonstop flights to Guadalajara," she said. "Now they go down to Sacramento. When you have big families, you're saving hundreds and hundreds of dollars. But that's about the only place I see people driving anymore."
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.