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Delta Connection surge keeps airport on record pace

Medford airport passenger numbers got a boost in June 2014 when the Klamath Falls airport ceased commercial operations.

Even with Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport regaining commercial connections to Portland this fall, however, there has been nary a dent in Medford's record passenger run.

Led by Delta Connection's 28.2 percent surge, the Medford airport soared to its 26th straight record month as it surpassed the record set in October 2015 by 8.8 percent. The airport's four commercial carriers handled 72,394 passengers, topping the 2015 October total of 66,562.

"I'm pleasantly surprised things are still looking so good," Medford airport Director Bern Case said. "Klamath's impact was minimal."

After its 8.8 percent October gain, the airport is in position to hit the 800,000 passenger plateau. The airport set an annual record of 757,971 passengers in 2015, but after October this year it was sitting at 692,140, 9.6 percent ahead of last year's pace.

Case is thinking in terms of 820,000 passengers by the end of December. He is also rooting for two more record months, which would eclipse the December 2003 through February 2006 run of 27 straight record months. The present streak has been aided by an 11 percent bump in available seating from 18 daily departures. In October, 2,930 seats were available each day, up from 2,650 a year ago.

Case anticipated PenAir's twice-daily service from Klamath Falls to Portland could peel off 3 percent of Medford's customers, but just 1.5 percent slipped away.

Klamath airport Director John Barsalou said PenAir's 30-passenger Saab 340 turboprops flew 1,385 revenue passengers in October.

"We're doing well, but I don't think we had a significant impact on Medford traffic," Barsalou said. "We're anticipating more leisure traffic during the holidays and next summer."

During October, United Express passenger travel was up 19.2 percent in Medford, and Allegiant grew 6.3 percent. Alaska Air Group's Horizon Air was down half a percent, but still accounted for about half of the local fliers.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.