Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport recorded a 32 percent increase in passengers in July compared with the same time last year.
Overall, the airport had 10,869 passengers last month, its highest count in 20 years. The last time the airport recorded a similar count was in 1992, when 12,357 passengers used the facility.
The increase comes shortly after the Western Reserve Port Authority, which operates the airport, applied for a $780,000 grant with the U.S. Department of Transportation to help it attract daily air service, which it has not had since 2002.
Officials say the sharp increase in passengers should help to attract a daily regional carrier.
“The more passenger volume you have, the more transportation money you can get,” said Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel. “It’s certainly good news.”
Dan Dickten, director of aviation at the airport, attributed the increase in passengers to expanded and affordable service to points in Florida and South Carolina.
“Flights to Myrtle Beach are up 100 percent this year,” he said. “We also cranked up our flights to Sanford-Orlando.”
Allegiant Air, the airport’s sole carrier, set a record in July, flying nearly 10,000 passengers to those destinations. All told, the carrier sold 93 percent of its available seats for the month.
Although Allegiant earned most of the profits from additional passengers, Dickten said those parking at the airport helped its bottom line.
According to figures provided by Dickten, net revenue from parking in July was $26,154, up significantly from June when the airport earned net revenue of $17,463.
“It’s all relative,” he said. “That’s the only thing we make our money off of, is the parking lot. Allegiant operates at will from this airport.”
Heltzel noted an uptick in passengers will mean more sales tax money for both the county and the port authority.
Since the beginning of the year, 48,251 passengers have used the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, a 6 percent increase from the same time in 2011.
“The impressive increase in passenger traffic clearly demonstrates that a steadily growing number of travelers are choosing YNG over other airports in the region because of our convenience,” Dickten said.