Richmond Int'l Airport Logs its Busiest Month

The Capital Region Airport Commission, which runs the Richmond International Airport, reported that June was its busiest month ever.

About 154,000 people boarded planes at the airport, compared to 132,000 for June of last year, a 17 percent increase. Nationwide, air travel was down 3.7 percent, according to Richmond airport spokesman Troy Bell.

For fiscal year 2006 so far, passenger traffic at Richmond International is up 17.7 percent compared with last year. US Airways leads in local market share with 26.6 percent of boardings followed by Delta Air Lines at 23.4 percent. Continental Airlines and US Airways both reported double-digit growth for the month, according to Bell.

Most of the growth, he said, can be traced to cheaper fares. Discount airlines JetBlue Airways and AirTran Airways spurred a price war when they entered the market, and local passengers flew from Richmond instead of heading to Washington or Raleigh, Bell said.

While the commission is pleased with the growth, the board expressed concern that JetBlue and AirTran might be disappointed with their figures. AirTran started flying to Richmond in June of 2005, and JetBlue came in March.

Representatives of both airlines said yesterday they are pleased with growth in Richmond and expect more customers. AirTran will add one more daily flight to Atlanta, bringing its total to five.

Just to be safe, the commission is encouraging Fortune 1,000 business to book some of their travel on the two discount airlines to make sure they don't think about canceling flights, Bell said.

"The fastest way to do that is working with large business users. They put a lot of people in the air, travel frequently. [The discount airlines] are a group we have singled out as far as our discussions on the importance of supporting new entrants as part of their air travel program." Bell said.

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