Commercial passenger traffic at the Durango-La Plata County Airport increased to 378,876 combined arrivals and departures in 2018, an increase of 6,549 passengers, or 1.8 percent, compared with 2017.
“2018 was a strong growth year for DRO despite the extended effects of the 416 Fire on the regional economy,” said Tony Vicari, director of aviation. “The number of enplaned – or departing – passengers at 190,373 marked our highest total since 2014 and was the third highest in our history.”
Total arrivals at the airport equaled 188,503.
The total number of seats filled at the airport, the load factor, jumped to 74.9 percent for 2018, up from 71.2 percent in 2017.
Vicari said the airport is seeing increasing regional demand for air service, and airlines are offering lower prices to some key routes. He added travelers are increasingly flying out of Durango after realizing the lost time and higher cost of driving to fly out of Albuquerque or Denver.
The last commercial flight to service Farmington ended in fall 2017, and the airport is seeing an increase in numbers as it has emerged as the principal commercial airport in the Four Corners, Vicari said.
“We anticipate that passenger traffic will continue to increase in 2019 based on additional demand created by United Airlines’ new seasonal routes to Chicago and Houston, and American Airlines’ new seasonal route to Chicago, all of which will begin in June. American’s seasonal service to Los Angeles will be back in June, as well.” Vicari said.
United Airlines was the 2018 market share leader at the airport, carrying 197,279 passengers. American Airlines carried 181,597 passengers.July was the busiest month at the airport with 37,653 total passengers. Passenger traffic at the airport usually spikes in the summer with the arrival of vacation season and the addition of seasonal service flights.Chicago flights are new for 2019. American will offer Saturday-only seasonal flights to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport from June 8 to Aug. 17, and United will offer Saturday-only seasonal flights to O’Hare from June 8 to Oct. 26.Vicari said a survey of airport passengers found between 55 percent to 65 percent of passengers were local residents using the facility.
“There’s a perception that we’re a tourist airport, but the reality is the majority of our traffic comes from local use,” he said.