The Quad-City International Airport wrapped up 2013 with fewer passengers than a year ago but with a 10 percent increase in December, the airport's aviation director said Wednesday.
According to year-end statistics, the airport's carriers recorded a total of 383,027 enplanements, which was down 4 percent from the 399,236 enplanements for 2012. Total passengers — enplanements and deplanements — also were down 4 percent for last year at 763,416.
"The consultant had been saying we would be around the 380,000-mark and we did more than 383,000 so that was much better than we expected," Bruce Carter said.
He said the final tally was boosted by a strong December, which was not marred by the delays and cancellations that January has brought. "I thought we were having a good January, but United alone has already had 44 cancellations," he said pointing to the weather woes that have had a grip on much of the nation, frustrating travelers.
In December, the airport enplaned 31,980 passengers — an increase of 10 percent from 29,203 enplanements a year ago.
Of the airport's four carriers, Allegiant and American Eagle ended the year up 2 percent with 62,081 and 73,371 enplanements, respectively. Delta Airlines posted an 8 percent decline with 134,048 enplanements and United Express was down 5 percent at 111,096.
Given the passenger declines seen at other airports across the country, Carter said "a 4 percent decline was not that bad."
"Allegiant has helped fill the gap with the loss of AirTran," he said. "AirTran was in the 100,000-passenger range, so we gained back about 60 percent."
AirTran, a low-fare carrier, left the market Jan. 6, 2012.
According to Carter, 2013 was a year with declines brought about, largely, by decreased schedules and smaller planes. "There were a lot of fluctuations in the schedules and I think we'll see that continue for the first quarter. But some carriers should bring back larger schedules in March and April."
The year also saw the airport grow by one new destination when Allegiant added service to Punta Gorda, Fla. "Allegiant also started using some of the new Airbus planes here, putting those into the Florida markets," he said.
Carter said he is continuing efforts to discuss added service with the existing carriers and has seasonal service to Myrtle Beach and possible service to Los Angeles at the top of his list. "Both of those are about a year away,'' he said.
In addition, direct service to Washington, D.C., also remains a priority for the airport, which is working with the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce to land it. "There still is no way to get into Reagan (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport), but we're trying to work with United to get into Dulles (Washington Dulles International Airport)," Carter said.