More passengers flying through Stockton airport

Jul. 10--STOCKTON -- Airline passenger traffic at Stockton Metropolitan Airport rebounded in June, with 2,260 travelers boarding flights last month, officials reported Monday.

That was a 23 percent gain compared with the 1,817 passenger boardings tallied in May and nearly equal to April's 2,264 emplanements.

April was the highest level of activity since Allegiant Air LLC inaugurated its service to Las Vegas in mid-June 2006. But the best is yet to come, predicted Barry Rondinella, airport director.

"Wait till you see July," he said. "July is just going to blow you away."

Passenger loads on some Allegiant flights so far this month have approached 90 percent of capacity, he noted.

"June was reasonably strong," Rondinella said. "I think July will be strong and we'll see where it goes in August."

Overall in June, Allegiant jets leaving Stockton flew at 75 percent of capacity. That was up from 71 percent in May, but off from an 84 percent average load factor in April. Those figures were skewed because Allegiant added a fifth weekly round trip flight between Stockton and Las Vegas on June 16.

For the airline overall, Allegiant Air reported its planes flew at an average 88.6 percent of capacity in June, surging from 84.1 percent in May and 3 full percentage points above June 2006 figures.

That seems to parallel the overall airline industry as well, where strong demand and limited capacity have passenger planes running at near full.

According to the Air Transport Association, this summer season is expect to set a several records with airlines operating at an average as high as 85 percent of capacity. As an industry, operators break even at a load factor of 77.4 percent, the association said.

"Things have changed dramatically from the old days when 70 percent (average load factor) was good enough," Rondinella said.

Contact reporter Reed Fujii at (209) 546-8253 or rfujii@recordnet.com

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