Although a rash of winter storms in December ended a long streak of monthly passenger records, the Quad-City International Airport recorded its best-ever passenger record in 2007.
Airport officials said Tuesday that 484,212 passengers boarded flights in 2007, while 481,930 passengers deplaned flights. The 966,142 passenger total broke the previous record of 911,522 set in 2006.
Bruce Carter, the airport’s aviation director, said Quad-City International was on target to have 12 straight record months until snowstorms and foggy conditions forced the cancellation of 150 flights in December. The result was a 5 percent decrease in total traffic in December from 2006.
December saw 35,297 enplanements — a 6 percent decrease from the 37,575 enplanements, or boardings, a year earlier. Deplanements in December were 36,414 — down 5 percent from 38,234 last year. Total passengers in the month declined from 75,809 in 2006 to 71,711.
“We’re just glad we got a record,” Carter said, adding that the 2007 achievement was sealed by about mid-December. “We could have gotten a snowstorm every other day and we still would have had a record.”
Carter attributed the strong performance to low airfares as well as competition between regional airports for passengers. He added that the airport continues to grow its reach outside the immediate Quad-Cities — drawing passengers from western Illinois, southwest Wisconsin and across eastern Iowa, including Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.
But with rising jet fuel prices, the first quarter of 2008 will see a slight downturn as airlines cut back on flights nationwide, he said.
Northwest Airlink previously announced it will suspend one of its two daily nonstop Quad-City flights to Memphis for the months of January and February. In addition, AirTran Airways is reducing its Las Vegas and Orlando service from four flights weekly to three for the next eight weeks. Both are set to resume regular schedules in March. American Airlines will return a second flight to Dallas-Fort Worth to the schedule in April that it removed last fall, he said.
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For the year, three of the airport’s five carriers reported increased passenger numbers, including AirTran, which recorded its best year ever at the airport. AirTran, which has been in the Quad-City market since 1997, had 106,262 enplanements — an increase of 12 percent over last year. American Eagle’s passenger numbers were up 15 percent, while United Express was up 8 percent. Delta Connection’s passenger numbers were down 2 percent, and Northwest Airlink was down 1 percent.
In anticipation of the record, the airport launched a “Guess the Record” contest last month. Beth Knipp of Waterloo, Iowa, guessed 484,210 — just two passengers off from the record. She will have her choice of two round-trip tickets to either Las Vegas or Orlando.