The Durango-La Plata County Airport had a busy November, and American Airlines increased its service to help meet the demand.
The number of people leaving on a plane from Durango was up 5 percent in November to 13,706 compared to 13,051 during the same period last year.
“We’re back to a growing trend again,” said aviation director Kip Turner.
The airport saw several months of decline this year. The total number of people boarding planes, also called enplanements, is down 2.1 percent from 164,949 to 160,520 so far for the year. The drop is mainly due to Frontier Airlines’ cutting its seasonal flights to Durango this year.
Frontier did not provide flights to Durango in November last year, so the new numbers clearly reflect the additional service American is providing to Durango.
If American had not added capacity to Durango, the airport could have seen much steeper declines in enplanements.
In November, 2,932 passengers flew American Airlines to Dallas, an increase of 47 percent over last year. Overall seat capacity for the month was up 15.5 percent.
“Airlines don’t add seat capacity unless you have a strong market,” Turner said.
The Dallas route is an ongoing success story for the airport because in 2013 American provided only seasonal flights to and Dallas and now it has a daily flight to and from the Texas city and two daily flights to and from Phoenix, Turner said.
“It’s something to get excited about,” he said.
The airport is preparing for several major construction projects to handle growth.
In the spring, the airport will start a taxiway rehabilitation project. It was expected to start in 2015, but was delayed because some federal grant funding was not available until September, Turner said.
The work will take place mainly at night and is not expected to disrupt flights, he said.
The airport also is preparing for construction of a new airport terminal on the east side of the runway. The project, estimated to cost $85 million in its first phase, will require a vote of the people to approve funding. It is expected to be on the ballot in November.
The airport advisory commission is talking about changing the airport’s name to better reflect the regional service it provides.
But this process is in its infant stages, Turner said.