Airlines Cheer Harrisburg Int'l Airport Owner

The number of people flying into and out of Harrisburg International Airport has dropped about 13 percent since this time last year, but Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority board members aren't reaching for oxygen masks.

"Airline passenger traffic in 2006 is down at every major airport in the state of Pennsylvania as a result of airline capacity cutbacks," said David McIntosh, a member of the authority, which owns HIA.

McIntosh explained at the SARAA meeting Wednesday in Carlisle that the number of airplane seats available has declined 17 percent this year because of bankruptcy-related cutbacks by airlines.

But airport officials said they're hopeful, noting that the two airlines that have emerged from bankruptcy -- US Airways and United -- are growing again at HIA. United has reported growth each month and now serves 22 percent of the passengers who use HIA.

McIntosh said United has set five monthly passenger and load-factor records at HIA this year and is on pace to set a yearly passenger record at the airport.

That gives hope to Delta and Northwest, which remain in bankruptcy.

"As you look forward, you can see as these airlines come back from bankruptcy. They've got their costs in line and can show growth," McIntosh said.

Advance ticket sales for American Eagle's daily nonstop service between Harrisburg and Dallas-Fort Worth that begins Sept. 7 are off to a strong start, McIntosh noted.

Flights to Dallas are expected to leave HIA daily at 7:05 a.m. and return at 8:15 p.m. At Dallas-Fort Worth, travelers can make connections to more than 100 destinations throughout the Southwest, Mexico, Latin America and South America.

Copyright: The Patriot-News -- 8/28/06

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