More than 397,000 passengers traveled through the Colorado Springs Airport during the first quarter of this year, representing a 19.2 percent increase from the first quarter of 2017.
“2017 was a very strong year,” COS Director of Aviation Greg Phillips said. “We added more flights in June, July and October that brought significant increases in actual traffic.”
Frontier Airlines added four new flights that started in June, and American Airlines added two nonstop flights to Chicago in July.
Both airlines have seen strong growth in their flights, Phillips said.
“The trend is positive and strong,” Phillips said. “It takes both the addition of flights and community response to them. In this case, the community has responded with gusto.”
The trend is continuing despite the departure April 29 of Allegiant, a Las Vegas-based carrier that provided low-fare service two days a week.
A statement from Allegiant in March said that the carrier was cancelling its flights between Colorado Springs and Las Vegas based on lack of demand.
“We hate seeing their line leave, but it’s about competition,” Phillips said. “Frontier (Airlines) kicked Allegiant to the curb.”
Although Frontier’s Las Vegas flights were priced virtually the same as Allegiant’s, Frontier provided daily flights to the destination, he said.
“We love offering as many options to travelers as we can, but they’ve got to compete and have viable routes,” Phillips said. “Allegiant suffered low passenger counts and half-full flights.”
Frontier reported 60,021 total passengers this year to date, an increase of 60.9 percent over the same period of 2017. Its new service to Seattle, Minneapolis-St. Paul and additional nonstop flights to Atlanta and San Antonio helped drive the increase. Frontier also has restarted seasonal service to Washington-Dulles and Chicago O’Hare.
For the 2017 calendar year, “our numbers overall were up 29.5 percent, largely from the new Frontier flights that came in starting in June,” Phillips said.
Denver International Airport attracts passengers because of costs, “but there are additional costs, including the distance, vagaries of traffic, the cost of parking in Denver and the time it takes to get through the check line,” he said.
Convenience, simplicity and shorter lines are part of what COS has going for it.
“There’s value in that as well,” Phillips said.
The March enplanements report showed that almost 142,000 passengers traveled through COS during the month. The figure included 70,880 enplanements and 70,934 deplanements.
March’s year-to-date load factor (the percentage of seats filled with paying passengers) was down slightly at 1.5 percent from 2017. Delta reported an 86.2 percent load factor, with American at 85.7 percent, Frontier at 83.6 percent, United at 77.7 percent, and Allegiant at 64.5 percent.
Phillips said he expects to see significant growth figures continue through the end of this quarter.
“If we don’t add significant flights in June, we will start to see leveling off,” he said.
“We’re working hard to try and make a strong business case for additional, expanded service on existing routes and make sure we’re keeping existing routes,” he said. “It shows Colorado Springs as a community will respond to growth. As we continue to grow, and with our strong economy, there is continued demand. We’re trying to meet that demand and work with carriers to keep moving forward.”