Apr. 16--A dismal number of passenger departures in March at Oklahoma's two major airports reflect a decrease in business travel and seat capacity, airport representatives said.
Travel from Tulsa International Airport was down more than 19 percent from last year, and is at its lowest level in several years, said Alexis Higgins, an airport spokeswoman.
Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City reported a nearly 15 percent drop in departures.
March typically begins the busy travel season. Higgins said airline managers were reporting full loads during Spring Break, but that business travel had subsided dramatically.
She said the addition of a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles, which adds 60 seats per day, should bring a boost of traffic when it comes in June.
"The economy, too, will hopefully be in a better position and people will feel more comfortable spending those dollars," she said.
Mark Kranenburg, director of airports for Oklahoma City, said the decrease in passengers at Will Rogers World Airport reflects airline cutbacks.
The airport is analyzing the effect of those reductions on next year's budget, he said.
"We know there's a reduction in revenues because not as many people are flying," he said. "We just don't know how it's going to shake out yet."
In Oklahoma City, 123,409 people boarded planes to leave Will Rogers World Airport. That's a 5.2 percent increase over numbers from last February.
The number of passengers getting on planes at the Oklahoma City airport for the first three months of the year increased 6.6 percent over 2005 figures for the same quarter.
More than 928,000 passengers boarded planes at Tulsa International this year through July 31.
Nicholas said she could not comment on what cities ExpressJet will offer nonstop service to, but she said the airline will start selling tickets Thursday.