Commercial traffic at Grand Junction Regional Airport up for September, but down for 2010

Commercial air traffic at the Grand Junction Regional Airport increased in September compared to the same month last year. But traffic through the first nine months of 2010 continues to lag behind a record-setting pace in 2009.

A total of 20,457 enplanements — that is, passengers boarding commercial flights — was reported in September 2010. That’s above the 19,788 enplanements reported in the same month last year.

A total of 163,648 enplanements  were reported for nine-month span between January and September. That’s an 8.4 percent drop from the same period last year. A record 231,616 enplanements were reported for all of 2009.

The decrease in traffic could be attributed in part to the absence of Frontier Airlines, which offered service between Grand Junction and Denver for the first nine months of 2009 before discontinuing the route. However, United Express likely picked up some of that business aboard its flights between Grand Junction and Denver.

Rex Tippetts, director of aviation at the Grand Junction Regional Airport, said a surplus of seats and competition in the summer drove down fares to the point airlines were losing money on operations and Delta and American Eagle considered discontinuing flights to Salt Lake City and Dallas-Fort Forth, respectively.

Since then, airlines reduced flights, tightened supply and raised prices. While fare are higher than they were a year ago, they remain lower than five years ago, Tippetts said.