Passenger traffic soars in Traverse City

Sep 17, 2019

Passenger traffic at Cherry Capital Airport increased each month this summer due to a strong marketing campaign and new nonstop flights.

Credit Cherry Capital Airport

Airport manager Kevin Klein had no problem outlining how the season went.

“In one word — awesome. It was just a fantastic summer for us,” says Klein.

Passenger traffic increased 14 percent from May to August year over year.

The data peaked in June with a 24.8 percent jump compared to the same month in 2018.

August also was strong, logging a 16.3 percent spike in passenger traffic compared to the same month a year ago.

Klein and other airport officials worked closely with tourism bureaus from Traverse City, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Gaylord and Mackinac Island to find ways to bring visitors from other states to northern Michigan.

They all worked with the Pure Michigan campaign to target golfers in the south, attracting them to cooler golf courses up north to beat the heat.

“We’re the pure Michigan airport,” Klein says.

It specifically targeted golfers in Texas looking to play the game in a cooler climate with American Airlines’ nonstop flight from Dallas to Traverse City.

“The Dallas flight has just become very, very popular,” Klein says.

The flight was so successful that American Airlines extended it through Oct. 2, says Klein.

New routes to Charlette, NC and Washington D.C. also helped bolster air traffic.

The airport also saw success with core routes to St. Paul, Minn., Detroit, Atlanta and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Additionally, Delta Airlines added larger aircraft to accommodate the demand.

It went from a 70-seat regional airplane to a 110-seat mainline aircraft. It also increased seating options upgrading from the 148-seat Airbus A320 jet to an Airbus A321 that carries 178 people.

“Just those little increments have all added up to allow for more seats in the market,” Klein says. “Last year, Denver was served with a 50-seat regional jet and it’s a 70-seat regional jet this year.”

Passenger traffic in the fall is poised to also do well, Klein says. In October, low-cost airline Allegiant Air will start service to and from the airport, bringing a new carrier to the Cherry Captial Airport playing field. 

Allegain will add three new routes to St. Pete-Clearwater, Orlando and Punta Gorda/Fort Meyers, which are all located in Florida.

The new services were announced in June.