TCRA passenger numbers down 5 percent in second quarter

J. H. Osborne • Jul 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — The number of passengers using Tri-Cities Regional Airport dropped 5 percent during the second quarter of 2008 compared to the same quarter last year, TCRA Marketing Director Melissa Thomas said Tuesday.

But year-to-date passenger traffic at the airport remains up about 1 percent compared to this point in 2007, Thomas said.

That’s because of increases in passenger numbers during the first quarter this year:

•Total passenger activity for January was up 9.4 percent compared to January of last year.

•In February, the figure was up 16.4 percent compared to that month last year.

•And March passenger levels remained slightly up at 0.7 percent higher, compared to March 2007.

That left TCRA with an 8 percent increase for the first quarter in 2008.

But all three months of the year’s second quarter saw decreases from the prior year:

•Total passenger activity for April was down 0.7 percent compared to April of last year.

•In May, the figure was down 6.4 percent compared to that month last year.

•And June passenger levels were 5 percent lower than June 2007.

Thomas said airport officials don’t have second quarter passenger numbers for all other facilities used as benchmarks for TCRA — those include Asheville, Roanoke and Chattanooga — but they know enough to say the local downturn in passenger traffic matches a larger trend in recent months.

“We anticipated that passenger numbers would decline this quarter as air carriers raise fares and reduce the number of available seats in an effort to combat record high fuel prices,” Thomas said.

Air cargo at the airport increased 49.9 percent for the second quarter, and total landed weights increased 2.3 percent as compared to the same period last year.

The increased landed weights can be attributed to the larger, heavier aircraft operated by Allegiant Air and charter aircraft, Thomas said.

Overall aircraft movements declined 5.3 percent for the period.

For the second quarter:

• 51,385 airline passengers boarded planes at TCRA, compared to 54,369 during the same period in 2007.

• 50,614 airline passengers disembarked at TCRA, compared to 52,907 during the same period in 2007.

• 639 passengers boarded charter flights at TCRA, compared to 736 during the same period in 2007.

• 647 passengers arrived at TCRA on charter flights, compared to 752 during the same period in 2007.

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