Aug. 4--DAYTON -- 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.
Monthly statistics released by the airport Wednesday show passenger airline boardings have dropped 16 percent for the first half of the year.
Airport officials and observers cited a variety of factors, including more aggressive pricing by Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines at its Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport hub. Delta's Dayton boardings were down 28.8 percent in June from June 2004 and down 16.9 percent for the first six months of this year, according to Dayton airport figures.
Even so, Delta, including regional carriers that fly under the Delta banner, remains the airport's biggest carrier in terms of passenger boardings.
Overall, 608,283 passengers boarded airliners at Dayton in the first half of the year, compared with 724,450 in the same period last year.
"A lot of (the decline) is from the slippage of Delta," Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce President Phil Parker said.
"We have been watching some of our Delta customers retrench back to the (Cincinnati) hub," he said.
Airport spokeswoman Sharon Sears said it's hard to tell whether fewer passengers from the Cincinnati area are coming to Dayton for flights.
"The airlines just report bottom-line numbers, not (passengers') zip codes," she said.
"We're hopeful with Frontier Airlines starting the 31st of August that will help us," Sears said.
The low-fare, Denver-based airline will offer two daily nonstop flights between Dayton and Denver on 70-seat regional jets.
Parker said Dayton needs to find ways to convince Delta to grow its service in this market and entice other carriers such as Frontier.
He also said this year's downswing follows a strong recovery from the September 2001 terrorist attacks that drove down air travel nationwide.
For the first three quarters of the year, passenger boardings were down 15.3 percent from the same period last year.
It plans to consolidate its hub operation, putting the jobs of 840 local ground workers at risk.
Dayton has collected data -- on passengers, destinations and airports of similar sizes -- and is taking it to airlines to attract more service.
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.