Monday, December 26, 2011

Boardings up at Monroe Regional Airport (KMLU), Louisiana

Monroe Regional Airport in the last year has seen an increase in passenger traffic by 21 percent, one of the largest increases for southwestern airports that have 50,000 or more boardings.

Monroe, which ranked 26 among the 53 airports in this category, was one of only two cities to enjoy a decrease in airfares. The other city was Texarkana, Ark. Both saw a decrease in average airfares by 6 percent, according to data released Friday by the airport.

The southwest region is comprised of New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

“We had been working with the airlines over a period of time to get them to take a look at our market and try to give us some relief, and it seems that they were responsive,” said Ron Phillips, interim airport manager. “That was significant.”

Phillips said the report was compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The report shows average fare for Monroe dipped from $251 to $236.

Texarkana saw a decrease as well from $319 to $299.

In Louisiana, LaFayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans had average fares as low as $228, $198 and $168, respectively, but even these numbers represented an increase over the last fiscal year.

Furthermore, the Monroe airport saw the largest increase in airline revenue in Louisiana, with a 15 percent spike from $18.1 million to $20.8 million. The airport served 93,450 passengers, compared to 77, 510 passengers the year before.

Phillips said he attributed the increase in passenger traffic to the airport’s marketing of the airport outside the local area.

Thus, not only are airfares cheaper, but for local residents who once flew out of Shreveport or Jackson, Monroe has become easier to fly out of, he said.

“More people are choosing to fly in and out of Monroe,” he said.
Passengers at Monroe airport on Friday seemed to agree.

David and Lisa Cupples flew in from Pittsburg to visit family in Minden. The prices at other airports were just way too costly, they said.

“It’s ridiculous,” they said, adding that more recently, they’ve chosen to fly into Monroe when visiting because it’s much cheaper.

David Cupples said he’d rather have family drive 45 minutes to pick him up than spend an additional $300 to $400 per person on a ticket.

Ronald Williams of Baltimore said he had flown in to visit family, and he chose Monroe because it was closer and he was “OK” with the price.

According to Phillips, it’s probably helped that in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, some airlines even offered more flights.

However, since then, some airlines have reduced flights.

In November, United Continental spokesman Charlie Hobart confirmed United
Continental reducing service to Monroe for winter months by one flight per day to match seasonal reduction in demand. He said the flight will return on March 4.

In addition, American Eagle, a regional partner for American Airlines, reduced its three round trips a day scheduled between Monroe and American’s hub in Dallas-Fort Worth to two a day.

MONROE AIRPORT GROWTH BY THE NUMBERS
Fiscal year Passengers Airline Revenue Average Fare
2009-2010 77,510 $18,092,000 $236
2010-2011 93,450 $20,796,000 $251
Percent change +21% +15% -6%

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