Official data received by the Federal Aviation Administration in July showed Yuma International Airport experienced record breaking numbers with respect to passenger activity in 2014. This FAA report is sent to airports across the nation and used to determine fiscal year 2016 Airport Capital Improvement funding.
During the Yuma County Airport Authority Board of Directors monthly meeting, Airport Director, Gladys Wiggins presented information received from the FAA- Office of Airport Planning and Programming regarding the “Enplanements by Individual Carriers for Calendar Year 2014” report. This report provided the number of enplanements or passengers departing (originating) from the Yuma International Airport totaling 90,732 passenger enplanements for CY14 surpassing other years and setting an all-time high for the airport. This was a 15% increase from the 2013 enplanement report. This is the same year when one of the two airlines servicing Yuma shut down its operations and counters in December 2014. The Yuma
community made sure the obstacle of having one carrier did not stop them from “Flying Yuma” and it is showing! The second highest number of enplanements was in 2008 with 87,975 passengers when the airport had three legacy airlines providing service from Yuma to Phoenix, AZ, Los Angeles, CA, and Salt Lake City, UT.
Ms. Wiggins shared, “This is great news and a proud moment for the airport as well as for the community. This data helps to support and shows that our economy is steadying and people are in a better financial position to travel using our local air service whether for personal or business matters. It was exciting to share this report with the Board and really emphasize how the use of the airport by our community helps to secure future federal grant entitlements and retain the current airline. We need the community in order to make our airport attractive not only for the retention of what we have today but for consideration of future routes or even the possibility of a new air carrier entering into our market. It is truly about the numbers for airline network planners and air carrier site selection committees.”
Corporate Accounts and Marketing Specialist, Gen Grosse, commented that, “This report is a feather not only in the airport’s cap, but in Yuma County’s cap. There has been a big push for our airport team to promote the use of our local airline(s) and the importance of our commercial air service these past two years. Seeing results like this keeps us hopeful of achieving our goal to attract a new air carrier; and one day reaching 100,000 enplanements regardless of the number of carriers.”
Wiggins explained, “Our team works closely with our current provider in an effort to improve our passenger’s experience when travelling through our airport. I hear the good and the bad, and really do my best to focus on attainable solutions when I approach our airline for understanding or what can we do to help. My biggest challenge is the amount of frequent flyers that we lose today to surrounding cities because of these experiences or even one bad experience. Yuma is witnessing an increased growth due to MCAS Yuma, continued testing at YPG, productive agriculture seasons, potential in the manufacturing industry and other great projects that community leaders have underway. We are diligently working with a number of air carriers to encourage their interest in Yuma and data such as this does helps with recruitment. A key factor will be consistency although it is great to have a good year but like any business, our current airline and any potential airline in the future, wants to see these numbers consistently.”
The airport’s campaign to “Fly Yuma” appears to be taking hold. Efforts to educate the community about the importance of supporting our local airport are ongoing and soon the community will begin to notice changes to help attract more business at the airport. Bringing an additional route or another airline to Yuma involves everyone from airport staff to community partners, to each person buying a ticket. The choice each person makes to fly locally helps Yuma succeed and the future of our airport depends on it.