Commercial traffic takes flight at Grand Junction airport

Commercial passenger traffic at the Grand Junction airport increased more than 7 percent during the first quarter of the year compared to the same span last year.

According to the latest statistics from the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority, 49,267 enplanements — passengers boarding regularly scheduled commercial flights — were reported during the first quarter of 2016. That’s a nearly 7.3 percent increase over the  45,923 enplanements reported for the first quarter for 2015.

For all of 2015, 218,948 enplanements were reported at the Grand Junction airport, only slightly below the 219,252 enplanements reported for 2014. Commercial passenger traffic peaked in 2009 with 227,946 enplanements.

Commercial airlines offer nonstop service from Grand Junction to six destinations: Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

American Airlines reported the most enplanements for the first quarter with a total of 21,964 enplanements on flights to Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix. That’s a nearly 21.5 percent increase over the same span last year.

United Airlines reported 14,152 enplanements to Denver. That’s almost 11.8 percent less than a total of 16,045 enplanements to Denver and Houston during the first quarter of 2015. United Airlines dropped nonstop service between Grand Junction and Houston.

Delta Airlines reported 7,376 enplanements on flights to Salt Lake City during the first quarter of 2016. That’s nearly 16 percent more than the 6,360 enplanements reported for the same span last year.

Allegiant Airlines reported a total of 3,284 enplanements on flights to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, a decrease of more than 5 percent from the first quarter of 2015.

Denver Air Connection reported 2,261 enplanements on flights to the Denver area, an almost 25.3 percent increase over last year.

Other measures of activity at the airport constituted a mixed bag.

Five rental car companies operating at the airport reported a total of more than $1.1 million in revenue for the first quarter, a nearly 16 percent increase over the same span last year.

A total of 10,550 airport operations — the number of takeoffs and landings — were reported during the first quarter. That’s a decrease of about 1.3 percent.

Nearly 1 million pounds of freight was loaded onto airplanes at the airport — the bulk of that by Federal Express — during the first quarter. That’s a nearly 6.7 percent decline from last year. A total of more than 1.7 million pounds of freight was unloaded at the airport during the first three months of 2016, up about four-tenths of a percent.