City Officials See Positives for Dayton Airport

City officials gathered Thursday at Dayton International Airport to tout an upturn in passenger traffic, expanded airline services and efforts to bring business to the airport.

The number of passengers flying from Dayton was up 5.6 percent for the first five months this year over the same period last year, and May's traffic was up 11 percent over May 2005, said Harvey Wortham, acting airport director. He said the airport expects figures for June to show continued growth.

Officials also announced recent or upcoming additions in airline service:

--AirTran Airlines has added a daily nonstop flight to Atlanta, its fifth.

--Frontier has upgraded from regional jets to 114-seat Airbus A318s and 132-seat A319s.

--United last month expanded service to Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C. and Chicago's O'Hare.

--In September, Continental is to expand service to Newark and Houston, US Airways is to upgrade early-morning flights to Philadelphia from 50-seat to 70-seat regional jets, and Delta is to add a daily nonstop flight to Atlanta, its ninth.

"Dayton International Airport is holding its own against other major airports in the southwestern Ohio region," Mayor Rhine McLin said, a reference to Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International in Covington, Ky.

Dayton has been marketing the airport with billboard ads on Interstate 75 to woo back customers lured by discounted fares at Cincinnati.

McLin said the city is still looking for a new business to fill the void left by United Parcel Service when it closed the air freight hub at the end of June, eliminating 1,200 jobs and costing the airport an estimated $5 million in annual revenues. UPS owns the facility.

Wortham said the growth in passenger traffic will "soften" the impact of losing the air freight operation.

He also said the airport is negotiating with four other companies interested in adding or expanding operations on the airport.

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