Rich­mond’s air­port has its best year ever

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY PETER BAC­QUÉ

Pas­sen­ger traf­fic at Rich­mond In­ter­na­tional Air­port has soared to an all- time high.

With more than 3.4 mil­lion pas­sen­gers fly­ing into and out of the air­port dur­ing the fis­cal year that ended June 30, the air­port has posted its best year ever, the Cap­i­tal Re­gion Air­port Com­mis­sion said yes­ter­day.

The year’s traf­fic rep­re­sents an 11.5 per­cent in­crease over the 2006 fis­cal year. Pas­sen­gers are the lifeblood of air­ports. “ More pas­sen­gers mean more park­ing rev­enue and con­ces­sion rev­enue,” said Doug Blum, the com­mis­sion’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.

Those two money- mak­ers alone pro­vided Rich­mond In­ter­na­tional with al­most two- thirds of its $ 38.1 mil­lion in­come last year.

It’s tough to draw con­clu­sions

from just one month. When you stack cargo next to the pas­sen­ger num­bers, maybe

it’s a case of ‘ suf­fers by com­par­i­son.’

TROY BELL Air­port spokesman

From Page

Park­ing rev­enues rose 14.5 per­cent last year, to $17.2 mil­lion. Con­ces­sion fees from restau­rants, shops and rental cars went up 10.8 per­cent, to $7.8 mil­lion.

In June, more than 336,000 pas­sen­gers used RIC, an 11 per­cent in­crease over the same month a year ago.

“ We’ve never had a bet­ter month,” said air­port spokesman Troy Bell, point­ing to strong trav­eler en­thu­si­asm for low- fare car­ri­ers Sky­bus Air­lines and JetBlue Air­ways and bet­ter ac­cess to pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions.

“ JetBlue was up more than 10 per­cent and AirTran more than 25 per­cent from a year ago,” Bell said.

Other air car­ri­ers also showed strong gains in June, with United Air­lines’ traf­fic up 14.8 per­cent from a year ago and Delta Air Lines’ up 12.8 per­cent.

The air­port’s largest sin­gle car­rier, US Air­ways, was flat, with a traf­fic in­crease of 0.7 per­cent.

With Sky­bus’ re­cent start of dis­count ser­vice to Colum­bus, Ohio, Rich­mond now has nine air­lines mak­ing about 200 flights in and out daily.

“ We’ve been on a good roll,” Bell told the air­port com­mis­sion yes­ter­day.

Cargo traf­fic was up 2.4 per­cent for the fis­cal year, though June saw a 2.6 per­cent de­cline com­pared with June 2006.

“ It’s tough to draw con­clu­sions from just one month,” Bell said. “ When you stack cargo next to the pas­sen­ger num­bers, maybe it’s a case of ‘ suf­fers by com­par­i­son.’ ”

Rich­mond In­ter­na­tional is gear­ing up to serve even more pas­sen­gers. The air­port:

has just ded­i­cated a $46.8 mil­lion ex­pan­sion of its ter­mi­nal;

is be­gin­ning de­sign on a $ 55 mil­lion, 2,700- space ex­pan­sion of its park­ing garages, with con­struc­tion due to be­gin next spring;

should open a new, 1,000- space sur­face park­ing lot next sum­mer; and is mak­ing $13 mil­lion in im­prove­ments to Air­port Drive, the main ac­cess road for the air­port.

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