GJ airport business continues to soar
The number of passengers who flew into and out of Grand Junction Regional Airport during the first half of this year climbed nearly 6 percent compared to the same time last year, a boost largely attributable to the addition of daily flights to a new destination.
Passenger boardings through June — the latest month for which data were available — totaled 106,811, compared to 101,040 boardings through the first six months of 2010.
Much of that increase came from the May 3 launch of Continental Airline’s twice-daily flights from Grand Junction to George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The new service grew from 1,577 passengers in May to 2,019 in June.
While the Grand Junction-to-Houston flight added 100 seats a day and accounted for the majority of the roughly 5,800 additional enplanements reported this year, it wasn’t the only source of increased business at the airport. Three of the four other major commercial carriers that fly travelers out of Grand Junction — Delta to Salt Lake City, American Eagle to Dallas-Forth Worth, U.S. Airways to Phoenix, and Allegiant Airlines to Las Vegas and Los Angeles — reported more passengers so far this year than last year.
U.S. Airways experienced the greatest percentage increase in passengers, with a nearly 13 percent boost over 2010. American Eagle, which added a third daily flight to Dallas in February, saw the second-largest percentage increase in enplanements.
The number of passengers who used Denver Air Connection, a private air charter company that flies between Grand Junction and Jefferson County and Centennial airports in the Denver metropolitan area, soared nearly 60 percent, from 1,468 to 2,347.
The one carrier that saw a dip in passengers is the airport’s largest: United Airlines. The airliner, which offers eight daily flights to Denver International Airport, saw passenger counts fall from 42,402 for the first six months of 2010 to 37,722 for the same months this year, an 11 percent drop.
Airport Manager Rex Tippetts couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Following a strong first half of 2011, the airport could see a leveling off of or decline in passenger traffic this fall. Allegiant will suspend service between Grand Junction and Los Angeles from Aug. 29 to Nov. 9 and from Nov. 28 to Dec. 14 due to low passenger numbers during those weeks last year.
More than 6,800 passengers flew to and from Grand Junction on Allegiant in September, October and November last year, although airport statistics don’t separate Los Angeles passengers from Las Vegas passengers.