Passengers slowly returning to TCRA

From Staff Reports

   Passenger traffic is slowly but steadily on the rise at Tri-Cities Regional Airport. According to TCRA Marketing Director Melissa Thomas, October passenger numbers were up 7 percent from those of September, but those same numbers still show a decrease of 31 percent from October 2000.
   "After experiencing excellent passenger growth through August, year-to-date passenger numbers have now dropped 3.6 percent after the events of Sept. 11," Thomas said.
   According to Thomas, airports nationwide are reporting similar declines.
   TCRA Executive Director John Hanlin says that recovery from post-September declines may take some time.
   "We anticipate it may take up to a year for passenger traffic to return to levels approaching pre-Sept. 11 numbers," Hanlin said. "However, we are encouraged that business travelers are returning, and we are hopeful that discretionary travelers will soon be taking advantage of the discounted rates available."
   While passenger numbers remain low at TCRA, the number of customers shipping goods through the airport is on the rise, according to Hanlin.
   Cargo traffic for October at TCRA increased 50.3 percent from last year, contributing to a gain of 3.4 percent for the year. Hanlin said the majority of growth in cargo shipments has come from companies using cargo carriers instead of major airlines to ship products, as well as from local auto parts' manufacturers supplying the auto industry, which is now experiencing increased demand due to low interest rates.