Sep. 29--Passenger traffic soared 18.9 percent in August at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, driven by domestic tourism and an almost 40 percent surge in international arrivals.
It was the largest one-month increase in more than two years, except for a month where traffic figures were distorted by Hurricane Wilma.
To a great extent, volume is up because of expansion at the airport by Spirit Airlines. For the fourth consecutive month, Miramar-based Spirit was the leading carrier, accounting for 19.2 percent of all passengers. For the first eight months of the year, Spirit also leads all carriers with 14.6 percent.
Delta Air Lines was second in market share with 13.5 percent of August traffic, with Southwest Airlines coming in third at 13.2 percent.
New Spirit service from Fort Lauderdale to 10 destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America fueled a 39.7 percent increase in international passengers to 275,599. New nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to Barbados launched by Air Jamaica also contributed to the total.
Domestic passenger traffic rose 16 percent to 1.65 million, reflecting more fliers on AirTran Airways, Continental Airlines and JetBlue Airways.
Airport officials said last month was the busiest August on record. The 1,924,749 passengers who passed through the airport eclipsed the previous record in 2005 by more than 150,000 passengers.
Although traffic figures for August at Palm Beach International Airport are not yet available, it is unlikely that they will be as robust. In July, the latest month available, traffic at the West Palm Beach airport rose 1.9 percent, compared with a 10.9 percent increase in Fort Lauderdale.
Spirit Airlines only flies to West Palm Beach in the winter and had just 1 percent of the market there in the 12 months ended July 31. The leading carriers in July at Palm Beach International were Delta, with 24.3 percent of the market, followed by US Airways with 16.5 percent and JetBlue with 15.2 percent.
Tom Stieghorst can be reached at email@example.com or 305-810-5008.
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