More People, Cargo Take to Air at Tulsa Airports in Okla.

Both airports have seen a decrease in operations so far this calendar year - at least that is what the numbers are showing. The Tulsa Airport Authority released its activity report late last week detailing the number of passengers, cargo tons and total operations - landings and take-offs - at Tulsa International Airport and the Jones Riverside Airport. At Tulsa International, the total number of operations was 91,444 for a nine-month period that ended on Sept. 30, according to the summary report.

In 2005, the airport had 114,948 operations forthe same time period. "Airlines are reducing flights," said Carl Remus, deputy director of administration and finance for Tulsa International Airport. "General aviation and military activity is lower this year than last." He said that both civilian aviation and military aviation account for the decrease in the airport's reduction in operations. He speculated that civilian aviation was down because of increased fuel prices. As for the military, Remus speculated there was high activity last year. For Jones Riverside, operations have reached 178,584 for the nine-month period, which is down from last year when the total operations were at 272,251. Jones Riverside is traditionally thebusiest airport in the state, explained Jeff Mulder, director of airports, and Jeff Hough, deputy director of engineering and facilities.In the past, the airport has reached the 350,000 total operations ina year. What drives the high number of operations, officials said, is the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology flight training program. While Riverside numbers are still high, they are on a decline. Remus said the operations are down because there is a decrease in Spartan's flight training activity. The company's contract with the Chinese government to train pilots expired recently and was not renewed. As Tulsa International sees a decrease in the number of operations,there has been an increase in the number of passengers. In the nine-month period, the airport has seen about 2,443,576 passengers. That is up from last year when the airport saw about 2,416,094 passengers."Passengers numbers are only up 1 percent calendar year-to-date," Remus said. "We have been relatively flat due to fares increasing slightly and capacity - available seats - decreasing slightly." Even with the slight increase, the airport's number of passengers is not near the pre-Sept.11, 2001, numbers. Remus said before the attacks, numbers for the same period of time were about 2.7 million passengers in 2000 and 2.6 million in 2001. One area that is seeing an increase is cargo. In the nine-month period, Tulsa International Airport saw about 41,634 tons of cargo - both mail and freight. In 2005, the airport handled about 40,938 tons of cargo. Airport officials aren't sure what caused the increase. Remus said UPS has reported a marked increased in deplaned cargo in the last two months. "Cargo is particularly volatile from an ability to project," Remus said. "It is simply a function of when someone needs to ship or receive something." The holiday season at the end of the year generally serves as a "consistent barometer," he said. "Otherwise it's a function of local economic activities," Remus said. There is no cargo or passenger numbers for Riverside since those activities do not occur at that airport. Oklahoma City's airports have also released their airport activity numbers. For Will Rogers World Airport, the 2006 year-to-date total operations, ending in September, is 82,105, down from 83,754 in 2005. There were 60,520 operations in 2006 at the Wiley Post Airport, down from 63,921 in 2005. The number of passengers at Will Rogers was 2,717,724 this year compared to 2,671,363 in 2005, according to the airport's report, found at . Cargo in 2006 was about 55,314,778 pounds, up from 2005, when cargo totals were about 54,131,900 pounds.

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