By Staff Reports- On the heels of the busiest year of passenger utilization, significant growth at Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) continues. First quarter 2019 numbers are in, and the airport served an unprecedented number of passengers. Specifically, AVL served 296,571 passengers January through March 2019, a staggering 45% increase over the same period last year.
“We have never seen such high numbers in the winter months at AVL,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., executive director of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority. “The growth is phenomenal, and it is great to see so many travelers flying from their local airport, and also traveling to our area from all over the world. I commend Tina Kinsey, A.A.E., Director of Marketing and Air Service Development and her team for the work they do every day to attract and retain air service for our region.”
In the first quarter of the year, January numbers were up 36%, February up 38%, and March passenger numbers grew by an astounding 59% compared to last year, with 121,801 travelers using the airport that month.
The unprecedented growth can be attributed to three key factors.
First, airlines have continued to make significant investment in the western North Carolina market by adding new routes, seat capacity and by new airlines entering the market. Second, the region continues to grow – with increases in local business and leisure travel, as well as a tourism destination that draws visitors from around the globe. And third, the strength of the economy is contributing to the growth.
“Growth is very exciting, and it comes with new challenges,” said Bleiweis. “Our board and airport team are working diligently to manage the significant increases, both with short-term and long-term planning.”
Looking forward, the growth projections continue. Looking forward to the summer months, airlines are offering 43- 50% more seats for sale in the market than were available last summer, depending on the month. In preparation, AVL is planning to add more parking at the airport in the short-term. Long-term planning is also underway to consider options regarding terminal and aircraft ramp expansions.
“The growth in utilization shows that robust air service options at our local airport are important to the overall lifestyle and economic strength of the region,” said Bleiweis. “We thank our local community for checking Asheville Regional Airport first for their travel needs, and I would like to assure travelers that the airport team will continue to work diligently to manage growth while always striving to provide exceptional airport experiences.”
Reviewing the numbers:
MONTH PASSENGERS YR/YR CHANGE
January 2019 88,301 +36%
February 2019 86,469 +38%
March 2019 121,801 +59%
LOOKING AHEAD TO SUMMER SEATS FOR SALE (inbound & outbound) YR/YR CHANGE
June 2019 175,624 +50%
July 2019 175,008 +43%
August 2019 168,896 +44%