Staff Writer — firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BrandonHubbard
9:33 AM EDT, July 9, 2013
PELLSTON — Pellston Regional Airport saw the first growth in the number of passengers since 2005, according the annual Federal Aviation Administration report released each July.
The airport had previously been on a seven year skid following the economic recession in the second half of the last decade.
Passenger numbers at the Emmet County-owned airport fell about 40 percent collectively during those years, from 38,191 in 2005 to 22,708 in 2011.
But, a 9 percent surge in passengers reported in 2012 and early 2013 projections could indicate the trend is reversing.
“We saw a little spike and that is great news,” said Kelley Atkins, Pellston Regional Airport manager last winter when the preliminary numbers were released. “It is probably a combination of a lot of different things. It’s positive, and I’m glad to see it.”
Delta Airlines is the single provider at Pellston Regional Airport and offers daily flights to Detroit Metro Airport.
About 2,100 more passengers used Pellston in 2012 than the previous year, totalling 24,864 in 2012.
The FAA counts enplanements as a passenger boarding at the airport, but does not include the return trips in the count.
In 2011, Delta, the lone commercial provider at Pellston, announced it would be swapping out its 34-passenger prop planes for 50-seat regional jets to seek federal Essential Air Service subsidies.
Delta receives $1,055,322 annually in subsidies under the Essential Air Service program, based on a contract through October 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Other Northern Michigan airports also saw growth last year.
Chippewa County International Airport in Sault Ste. Marie and Alpena County Regional Airport saw about 6 percent increases.
The larger Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City also reported about a 5 percent increase in passengers to 179,879 passengers.
The top three airports in the nation were Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Chicago O’Hare International and Los Angeles International.
More than 45.7 million passengers boarded in Atlanta last year — a 3 percent increase.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airport ranked at 17th in the country with 15,599,877 people in 2012 and had a decrease in passengers of about 0.74 percent.
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Copyright © 2013, Petoskey News
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