Bradley’s passenger traffic up 10 percent

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By The Airport News

Passenger traffic was up more than 10 percent at Bradley International Airport in the first half of 2014, thanks to an improving economy in Connecticut and additional airline service. Airport officials are optimistic about continuing progress.
Bradley traffic was up 9 percent in May and 9.3 percent in June, the latest numbers available when Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, gave his monthly report to the CAA board of directors in August. The year-to-date traffic increase at Bradley was 10.6 percent through June. The report compares 2014 totals to totals from similar periods a year earlier.
Dillon described the trends as “continued very good success.” He compared Bradley’s first-half gains to numbers from T.F. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode island (down 6.8 percent), Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire (down 13 percent), and Logan International Airport in Boston (up 4.4 percent).
He attributed the declines at Providence and Manchester to reduced flights by Southwest Airlines, which has added flights at Boston. Bradley has its own market, Dillon explained, while the other regional airports rely on “bleedback” from Boston.
“The success here is really as a result of an improving economy,” Dillon said at the Aug. 11 board meeting, “as well as our continued focus on adding additional capacity.” He said he’s working with all of the airlines serving Bradley — “as well as some carriers that aren’t operating here today” — to try to increase service levels.
JetBlue Airways launched service in June between Bradley and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. United Airlines will begin daily nonstop service in October between Bradley and Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Not mentioned in the public portion of the CAA board meeting was American Airlines’ decision to end nonstop service between Bradley and Los Angeles. The daily flights launched with a big celebration in August 2013 and were Bradley’s only nonstop West Coast destination. Service ended in mid-August.
“They weren’t making any money on the flight,” said John Wallace, the CAA’s manager of communications, even though the planes “were pretty full — almost 80 percent.” He added: “We’re hoping they come back with a new pricing scheme.”
There has been speculation in online passenger bulletin boards that American may resume Bradley-Los Angeles flights as seasonal service next summer.
Meanwhile, Bradley continues its focus on international traffic. Dillon told the CAA board that returning trans-Atlantic flights is one of the airport’s top goals. There’s strong trans-Atlantic travel in Connecticut, but much of that comes from Fairfield County, with some from southeastern Connecticut, he said.
Bradley is looking to those areas to boost traffic. The CAA is beginning a new advertising program in the southeastern and southwestern parts of the state, pitching the ease of using Bradley, compared with the New York airports. “JFK: great president, tough airport — come home to Bradley” could be the message, Dillon said.
Dillon also reported good numbers on airport finances to the CAA board in August: Year-to-date operating income was $4.7 million higher than expected, he said. Efforts to control expenses, as well as the increased passenger traffic, were a big help, he said.
“We hope for a mild winter to hang on to some of that money,” said Mary Ellen Jones, chairwoman of the CAA board.

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