Passengers return to Tri-Cities airport

From Staff Reports

   The Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TCRA) fared better than most expected in 2001. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, airports across the nation had a decline in passengers, but the TCRA completed the year with only a 6.8 percent decline from the year 2000.
   The airport experienced record growth during the first eight months of 2001, and was on its way to a six percent yearly increase before the Sept. 11 attacks. The six percent increase would have been the second largest ever recorded by the airport. TCRA's heavy passenger traffic at the beginning of 2001 helped it to counter the effects of the terrorist attacks.
   "We feel very fortunate to be ending the year as well as we have. Most of our neighboring airports experienced double digit losses," said John Hanlin, TCRA Executive Director. "We know that it is going to take at least a year for passenger numbers to rebound to the levels prior to Sept. 11. However, we are encouraged that the decline is shrinking each month and that our air service levels reflect the confidence the airlines have in this market."
   Figures show a 26.8 percent decrease in passenger traffic during the month of November, but it was a 5 percent improvement over the same figures for October. Even more passengers returned to the airport in December. Although December's numbers showed an 18.2 percent decline from the year 2000, there was an 8.6 percent increase in passengers from November.
   The entire airline industry's woes were reflected in fourth quarter reports. Passenger numbers at Tri-Cities alone plummeted 25.9 percent during the quarter. Air Cargo offered some hope with an 11.2 percent increase for the quarter and a 1.3 percent increase for the year. Landed weights dropped by nine percent and aircraft movements remained constant.