Airport: 2010 second-busiest for boardings

Commercial passenger traffic at the Grand Junction Regional Airport in 2010 lagged behind the record pace set a year earlier, but still posted the second-highest annual total ever.

A total of 221,826 enplanements — that is, passengers boarding commercial flights — was reported during 2010 at the airport.

That total represents a decline of 4.2 percent from the record 231,616 enplanements in 2009. Still, 2010 was the second-busiest year on record for airline service at the airport.

Rex Tippets, director of aviation at the Grand Junction Regional Airport, attributed the drop to fewer flights. With the exception of American Eagle, airlines serving the Grand Junction airport all reported record years for enplanements, he said.

“The slight decrease in annual enplanements was more of a result of lost capacity than a result of people not flying,” Tippets added.

In 2009, American Eagle offered additional flights between Grand Junction and the Dallas-Fort Worth area for four months. Moreover, Frontier Airlines operated daily flights between Grand Junction and Denver for nine months of 2009 before the company filed for bankruptcy protection and halted service on the route. Frontier accounted for nearly 26,000 enplanements in 2009.

For 2010, United Airlines reported 90,355 enplanements for service to Denver, accounting for nearly 41 percent of all commercial passenger traffic at the airport.

The Delta Connection reported 38,651 enplanements for service to Salt Lake City, followed by American Eagle at 30,760 enplanements for service to Dallas-Fort Worth. U.S. Airways reported 28,888 enplanements for service to Phoenix. Allegiant Airlines reported 28,258 enplanements for service to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Denver Air reported 3,248 enplanements for service to Denver.

Tippets said increased air service should bolster enplanement numbers in 2011.

American Eagle Airlines has added a third daily direct flight between Grand Junction and Dallas-Fort Worth with departures set for 6:35 and 11:25 a.m. as well as 4:40 p.m.

Continental Airlines plans to offer nonstop service between Grand Junction Regional Airport and Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston starting in May. The service is among the new routes announced by United Continental Holdings, which was created following the merger of United and Continental Airlines.

“The airport’s achievement of additional air service for the upcoming year is quite an accomplishment considering the many challenges facing the aviation industry,” Tippets said.