Airport Passenger Growth Not Confined to Springfield


The number of people using the Springfield airport has been up since the first of year, but as the year progresses it’s becoming increasingly clear that the growth is not limited to Springfield. Other airports, approximately our size, are also seeing double digit growth.

It's worth mentioning because all of us have a tendency to view things from a local perspective. Even in today’s wired age it’s sometimes easy to forget that what happens in Southwest Missouri is tied to happenings across the nation, and the globe. Such is the case with airport passenger numbers.

Let’s take a look at total passenger growth at airports in the region, for the period January – August of this year:

  • (XNA) Northwest Arkansas: + %10.73
  • (FSM) Ft. Smith: + 6.77%
  • (LIT) Little Rock: - 5%
  • (TUL) Tulsa: + 4.6%
  • (SGF) Springfield-Branson: + 11.9%

Note that the airports with the largest growth are XNA and SGF. Besides similar growth numbers, both of these airports have something in common: from year to year they are roughly the same size in terms of passenger numbers and total number of commercial flights.

Now let’s look at passenger numbers for five airports that are much like ours in terms of population served, personal income, and per capita personal income. Here they are, along with their percentage change in passenger numbers for the period January-June, 2014:



Jan - June 2014

AVL Ashville, NC +12.5% Link
SGF Springfield, MO +12.1% Link
CRP Corpus Christi, TX +11.6% Link
SHV Shreveport, LA +9% Link
EUG Eugene, OR +2.89% Link
ROA Roanoke, VA -1% Link


So what’s the point? The point is that many airports our size are seeing significant growth this year; it’s not just happening in Springfield. There are several reasons for this, but I think there’s one that really stands out: between 2008 and 2011 the airlines made huge cuts at these airports (we saw a 22% cut in the number of available seats in 2011). The airlines cut back so much that passenger demand soon outpaced the number of available seats. So now the airlines are bringing seats back to these markets in order to meet demand.


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