Airport's run of 2 million passengers annually likely at endBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 17. 2018 11:42PM
MANCHESTER — 2017 is likely to be the first time this century that yearly passenger traffic at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport dipped below 2 million.
It would also mark the 12th straight year-over-year decrease at the state’s largest airport.
Figures through November showed 1,825,153 passengers had flown in or out of the airport — 2.8 percent fewer than for the first 11 months of 2016.
December’s traffic would need to run more than 20 percent higher than December 2016 to put the year over the 2 million mark.
Passenger totals exceeded 3.1 million each year between 2000 and 2003, climbed to 4 million in 2004 and notched a record 4.33 million in 2005. Totals dropped to fewer than 4 million in 2006 and to fewer than 3 million every year since 2010.
There were some positive signs last year. Between June and November, Manchester recorded four months with year-over-year gains, including 0.8 percent more passengers in November compared to November 2016.
“The recent gains can be attributed — in large part — to American Airlines adding a third daily Charlotte flight back in June,” Deputy Airport Director Tom Malafronte said Wednesday. “All three CLT flights have been performing well and will remain in the schedule going forward.”
Passenger totals last February were down 14.2 percent, or nearly 21,000 passengers, compared to February 2016.
“Traffic was down approximately 3 percent for the first half of the year as a result of the start to the 2017 winter season,” Malafronte said. “Between January 1st and April 1st we had 115 flight cancellations, which not only impacted activity for the first half of the year but will also affect year-end totals.”
Airlines adding or subtracting flights or bringing in larger planes are big factors influencing passenger totals, airport officials have said.
Boston’s Logan International Airport, meanwhile, saw a 5.8 percent passenger increase through the first nine months of 2017.
A spokesman for Logan didn’t return a phone call.
For the April to June period, Logan enjoyed a $31 price advantage over Manchester for average domestic round-trip airfares, according to federal statistics. Ticket prices averaged $380 in Manchester and $349 at Logan.
“It’s more about my schedule than price,” said Kim Albright, a project manager from Warner, who was flying nonstop from Manchester to Detroit for business on Wednesday.
“If I have both options equally the same, I’ll pick the cheaper of the two,” she said.
Barnstead resident Dana Swenson chose Manchester for the shorter drive from home. He and his twin teenage boys, Matthew and Dalton, were heading for a wedding in Tampa, Fla.
“I didn’t even look” at Logan prices, Swenson said. “I didn’t want the hassle with Boston. I pay for convenience.”