Another month, another record at Medford airport
The Medford airport had never come close to seeing 50,000 passengers during February until last month.
The Jackson County operated airport saw an 11.2 percent surge in commercial air travel in February, as 52,784 people passed through the gates, surpassing the previous record of 47,473 a year ago.
"I was hoping for that much, but I wasn't really expecting it," said airport Director Bern Case. "Usually, February is a little slower, but we had the advantage of an extra day this year."
United Express, which flies routes to Denver and San Francisco, saw the biggest jump, climbing 20.5 percent above its 2015 numbers as it took advantage of the regional jets that replaced smaller prop flights to the Bay Area. Delta Connection saw an 18.1 percent pick-up for service to its Salt Lake City hub.
Alaska Airlines, which handles more than half of the airport's passengers, recorded a 6.5 percent increase, while Allegiant Air grew its count 4.8 percent.
On average, an extra day during peak seasons might add another 2,000 passengers, Case said. But the old mark was topped by more than 5,000 as the airport reeled off its 18th-straight record month.
"I know people plan out their travel ahead, but it appears the economy is edging back, and I'm glad our strength is holding on," Case said.
The longest string of record months ran from December 2003 through February 2006.
The airport currently has 18 daily departures, up two from a year ago, Case said.
"We're probably flying about 85 percent capacity," he said. "We're close to getting someone to add more service, and Alaska has an additional flight, which is nice."
In another matter, Case said the airport recently was able to lower its bonded debt, which will save more than $4.8 million over the next 21-plus years. He said a combination of the airport's high credit rating, low 10-year Treasury Bond rates and the lack of Oregon Municipal Paper in the market led to the favorable conditions.
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.