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Passenger traffic increases at airport

Airport officials say business has made a comeback following the post-Sept. 11 slowdown

Reflecting greater confidence in air travel, passenger traffic has rebounded at Medford's airport following a post-Sept. 11 slump.

Airport officials report an 11 percent increase in November passenger traffic over last year, a 12 percent increase in October and a 30 percent increase in September.

I think the confidence is coming back, said airport spokeswoman Kim Stearns.

Still, she said overall traffic so far for 2002 is down — percent because the first part of year remained sluggish after the terrorist attacks.

During August ' the biggest air travel month for the airport ' passenger traffic was down only 1.5 percent from last year's 50,307.

With the year not quite over, Stearns said December's traffic might bring the totals up to par with last year.

We've had quite a bit of traffic through the terminal in November and December, she said.

Traveling also has become an easier proposition because passengers have come prepared for new security measures

They are more aware of what needs to be done, said Stearns. They are more aware of things like wearing jewelry.

Stearns said the January pullout of United Airlines announced in October will be a blow to the airport, but this was offset by America West Express recently starting service here.

Also, beginning Jan. 7, passengers will be able to fly nonstop to Denver, making it easier to get to the East Coast she said.

Medford already offers direct flights to Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix.

Passengers at the airport generally appeared to welcome the new security measures instituted following the attacks.

I just close my eyes and hope everything turns out all right, said 84-year-old Martha Molzer of Las Vegas.

Her son, Ron Molzer of Medford, on Monday said the amount of security at the airport seemed like overkill to him, but he added, I can understand it's there to accommodate travelers.

He is bothered by the 30-second rule for motorists parking near the terminal, saying other airports, including Portland, allow vehicles to park longer.

Overall, everything is reasonable, he said. The searches are reasonable.

Medford resident Tina Land, who was heading to Disneyland for the holidays, said, I'm not worried at all.

Her husband, Darren Land, said, I think there's definitely a lot of security.

But on a recent trip to Hawaii, Land said the security there was definitely more intense, taking longer to get through the terminal.

Tina Land of Medford shows off her Santa hat with Mickey Mouse ears as she prepares to disembark from Medford, bound for the happiest place on earth in Anaheim, Calif. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell