Skybus Sends More Fliers to Airport

Port Columbus logged a double-digit increase in passengers last month compared with May 2006. A strong start for Skybus Airlines, in operation the last 10 days of the month, accounted for 19 percent of that gain.

Total passengers using the airport increased from 582,016 in May 2006 to 645,782 this May, an 11 percent gain and a sixth consecutive monthly record.

David Whitaker, vice president of business development for the airport, attributed the surge to flights added by carriers including American, Midwest Connect, Southwest and United in addition to service by Skybus and JetBlue, which were not operating at Port Columbus a year ago.

Skybus had 112 takeoffs and landings at Port Columbus in May. With 12,261 total passengers on its 144-seat planes, that translates to a healthy 76 percent average "load factor," the percentage of occupied seats on a flight.

"Early ticket sales were extremely strong," said Bob Tenenbaum, Skybus spokesman. "We're encouraged that they continue to be strong."

Skybus' presence isn't taking passengers from other airlines, he said.

"What we're seeing is people who are new passengers. They're taking advantage of the low fares."

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