DAYTON - After sliding for more than a year, passenger boardings at Dayton International Airport grew by 5.2 percent in February over the same month last year and were up almost a percent for the year to date, according to airport figures.
Despite bankruptcy and labor woes, Delta Air Lines remained Dayton's top carrier with 19,719 boardings. Close on its tail was AirTran with 18,235 boardings. USAirways was third with 15,574, the great majority on Dayton-based subsidiary PSA.
Passenger traffic last year fell 15.6 percent from the year before.
"We're just very pleased. The parking lots are full. We're seeing passengers coming back," airport spokeswoman Sharon Sears said Friday.
She credited the upturn to a strong start to the spring travel season and competitive fares.
"We anticipate March being up as well. We have a lot of good fares right now," she said.
Last year's decline followed several years of growth in passenger volume since 2001, when the 9/11 attacks caused a nationwide slump in commercial air travel.
On the other hand, air cargo was down 3.8 percent in February from the same month in 2005, and down 2.9 percent year-to-date.
Sears said the cargo decline reflects United Parcel Service's decision to close its air freight hub on the airport by the end of June.
Aircraft operations were down 2.2 percent for the month and down 3.7 percent year-to-date.
DAYTON INTERNATIONAL PASSENGERS
* 2005: 1,222,362
* 2004: 1,445,462
* 2003: 1,315,106
* 2002: 1,145,065
* 2001: 1,076,244
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Passenger traffic at Dayton International Airport continued its steady decline in June, falling 20.1 percent from the same month last year, according to airport figures.
It remains to be seen, though, whether holiday passengers can propel the airport out of its recent slump in the number of travelers.
January passenger traffic at Tulsa International Airport was at the highest monthly level since 2001, with 227,906 people coming and going through Jan. 31.
Dayton has collected data -- on passengers, destinations and airports of similar sizes -- and is taking it to airlines to attract more service.