ALPENA - For the first time in a year since SkyWest Airlines took over for Delta Airlines at the Alpena County Regional Airport the number of enplanements has dropped from last year's numbers.
The airline began servicing Alpena September 2012, and after a great effort to educate the public on the importance of supporting SkyWest was made, enplanements spiked significantly for the next year. Several months saw increases in the number of travelers flying local bounce to more than 70 percent.
Although September was by no means a bad month in terms of enplanements, it was nevertheless a drop from what there was in 2012. This year there were 1,171, compared to 1,325 in September 2012. Overall there were 12,654 enplanements in 2012. That total should be surpassed in the next couple days or so, as the airport already has had 12,552 in 2013.
Airport Manager Billi McRoberts said she is not sure why there was a slight dip in the passenger numbers last month, but said not to read too much into it because the airport is still busy and overall numbers are much better than what they have been for many years.
"I suppose things had to level up at some point, but I really don't think there is any reason to be concerned," McRoberts said. "We are already at 12,552 for this year and if we keep the current pace we are on we will go over 15,000. That is unprecedented really."
There were several factors that could have led to the small dip. Early in the month incorrect ticket prices were listed on delta.com and they were significantly higher than what the actual price was. The mistake was realized and corrected in a few days, but McRoberts said a few people may have elected to fly out of another airport where prices may have been less. She said she doubts there were many who did so. however.
"It may have had a little impact, but I just have a hard time believing it was very significant, because the wrong prices just weren't up there very long," McRoberts said.
The construction project at the airport also has overcome a delay and will begin in about two weeks. A new passenger holding area is going to be built, but before work could begin there were logistics involved that needed to be overcome before work could commence.
Currently there is a small holding area that holds a little more than a handful of passengers after they have been screened by security. Once the room is filled the screening process is stopped until those in the room board the plane. McRoberts said the renovations will help the flow of traffic at the airport go smoother and in a more timely manner.
"We needed a plan that would meet everyone's needs and wait for the grant money," McRoberts said. "We needed to make sure we were doing what was best for the airport and the airline, but everyone else too. When it is done it is going to help the airport be much more efficient and streamline things much better. It won't take people as long to get checked in and get on the plane and everyone should be happy."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.