COS Aviation Director Greg Phillips

More than a million passengers passed through the Colorado Springs Airport by the end of August this year, pointing to continued growth in service for the facility in recent years.

“This is exciting,” said airport Aviation Director Greg Phillips. “It’s fun to see the entire airport busier — the terminal, the rental car companies, the parking lot. By the end of this year, we’ll be in the neighborhood of 1.7 million passengers.”

The passenger count includes people who fly out of the Springs airport as well as those who fly into the city. Enplanements count only those who fly out of the Springs.

“The [Federal Aviation Administration] uses enplanements to determine funding,” Phillips said. “We had 656,000 enplanements in 2016; that was 10.6 percent growth over the year before. This year, we’re estimating 850,000 enplanements, up nearly 30 percent over 2016. In two years, we’re up 41 percent on enplanements.”

Phillips, who became aviation director on Jan. 30 of this year, said the Springs airport has often reached 1 million passengers in a year.

“When Western Pacific was flying here back in the ’90s it was a great time for the airport because they were one of the first low-cost carriers but it wasn’t a sustainable financial model and they went bankrupt,” Phillips said. “We’d been on the decline since then.”

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Phillips said the Springs airport “turned the corner in 2016” and he figures the sky is the limit.

“We anticipate continued growth,” Phillips said. “We have exciting options with all of our airlines. Frontier has been a great partner, offering super-low prices with new planes and added routes.

“The community has responded to the added flights and Frontier has put faith and confidence in our community by adding more flights.”

The Springs airport currently serves 15 nonstop flights with six airlines. In September, the airport announced four new nonstop routes with Frontier Airlines. Service to Seattle and San Antonio begins April 8, 2018, with new routes to Minneapolis-St. Paul and San Jose, Calif., beginning April 9.

Frontier Airlines will initiate inaugural flights to Fort Myers, Fla., and Tampa, Fla., commencing Thursday and Friday, respectively.

At the end of August, nearly 1.1 million passengers traveled through the Colorado Springs Airport, representing a 29.3 percent increase from August 2016. Frontier reported 130,858 passengers in year-to-date traffic, an increase of 419.4 percent from the previous year.

In August, there were 84,902 enplaned passengers and 85,007 deplaned passengers — totaling 169,909 passengers traveling through the airport in August, an increase of 44.4 percent from August 2016.

Load factors [the percentage of seats filled with paying passengers] remained steady for August. Delta reported a 93.5 percent load factor, followed by American at 89 percent, United at 87 percent, Alaska at 84.3 percent, Frontier at 83 percent, and Allegiant at 78.8 percent.

“As the [Colorado Springs] mayor [John Suthers] keeps saying, ‘Look before you book,’” Phillips said. “If it makes sense to fly out of Denver, well, everybody has to make their own decision but we hope you’ll look here first. If you fly out of the Springs, you won’t have to drive as far or pay as much to park. Plus, our fares were down 16 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.”