Northwest cruises to monthly record out of Arnold Palmer airport

Two milestones were recently reached in Northwest Airlines commercial passenger traffic at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.

Gabe Monzo, manager of the Unity Township facility, told the Westmoreland County Airport Authority board Tuesday that 1,475 passengers flew out of the airport in July -- the highest monthly total in the airport's more than two-year history with Northwest.

"That's the best we've ever had," Monzo said, adding that the record was 1,410 passengers in October 2005.

Along with last month's passenger totals, the airport broke the 30,000 mark in the number of Northwest passengers to depart Arnold Palmer Regional since the airline initiated the service in April 2005.

"This is what we've been trying to do," said Monzo, who credited strong community support for helping to drive up passenger totals.

Darren Shannon, Northwest spokesman, said the airline appreciates the commitment the community has shown.

Mike Mooney, senior vice president of the Colorado-based aviation and consulting firm The Boyd Group Inc., said reaching that passenger total confirms that starting Northwest services in the local market was a sound business decision.

"I think what this demonstrates is that the Northwest service is catching on with air travelers in Latrobe, Westmoreland County and the eastern side of the Pittsburgh metro area," said Mooney, adding that his firm helped the airport in gaining a grant to assist in recruiting air service and arranged initial meetings between Northwest and Arnold Palmer Regional. "This is what's expected for a successful route."

Figures for Northwest's load factor at Arnold Palmer Regional -- or a measurement of how many seats are filled on each flight -- remained at 70 percent as it had been in June, a number Mooney said is "excellent."

Monzo said he hopes to see even more growth in the airport's scheduled service capabilities.

"Our resources are now at capacity, and we are continuing to beat the streets for any additional service we can find," Monzo said. "We are petitioning for more -- be it additional flights or larger aircraft. We're ready to take the next step."