For the fifth month in a row, the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority has reported an increase in passenger traffic. The number of travelers departing from Asheville increased 14% for the month of August 2013 compared with August 2012. September saw an increase of 12% compared to the same month last year, which was the fourth consecutive month of double-digit increases.
The increases can be attributed to several factors. First, the airlines serving Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) have added seats in the market compared to the same period last year. New routes have been implemented, and residents in the area continue to show strong utilization of their local airport.
The increase in seats is projected to continue. The summer months saw an average seat increase of 16% compared to the same period last year, and the upcoming fall schedules are showing an average 8% seat increase.
Additionally, a new non-stop route to St. Petersburg, Fla. operated by ultra low-cost carrier Allegiant Travel Company started in June, which added to the flight options available for travelers. Soon thereafter, a non-stop to Ft. Myers, Fla. was announced, and will begin operating on October 30.
It is also very positive that the flights from the airport are full. “The average flight from AVL is about 80% full, and we have some that are 85-95% full,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., executive director of Asheville Regional Airport. The airlines have ‘right-sized’ their offerings to fit the demands of air travelers in this market and the flight options are working for many air travelers in the region.
“We want our airline partners to be successful, because that means they will continue to serve western North Carolina,” said Bleiweis. “The ‘fly local’ message is important, and we will continue to encourage travelers in our region to check AVL first, and fly local whenever they can.”
Another positive statistic: the Airport Connectivity Quality Index, released in June 2013 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), showed Asheville Regional Airport as the best connected non-hub airport in the United States. “AVL enjoys excellent air service for a region our size,” said Bleiweis. “And I commend our region for recognizing the symbiotic relationship between flying local and retaining and attracting the excellent air service that is available to us all.”