The numbers are in, and for the first time in history Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) served more than 400,000 passengers in the year’s first quarter– a 29% increase over the previous year’s record number of 312,000. Additionally, each month’s passenger numbers for January, February and March were the highest in history, showing a strengthening of air service and utilization in the winter months at AVL.
Airlines continue to invest in the western North Carolina region and have grown their capacity (seats for sale in the market) in winter months. And passengers are using the additional air service, showing strong demand.
“Approximately 60% of AVL passengers during first quarter 2023 were visitors to the region, a strong indicator of the strength of destination appeal even in what have been traditionally slower winter months,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., President and CEO. “And I believe that this growth trend is in part due to the excellent work by Explore Asheville in telling our region’s ‘destination’ story.”
The growing number of passengers year-round are contributing to the airport’s need for a larger terminal and additional parking options. The airport is currently constructing a new parking lot south of the terminal with 650 spaces, and the new airport terminal groundbreaking is slated for August.
This month, the airport opened a new temporary boarding area in preparation for the major terminal construction project that will more than double the size of the airport. The new boarding area is a modular building adjacent to the terminal and will be used for approximately two years while new expanded gate areas are constructed.
“It is a pivotal time for our region in terms of air service growth and building for our future,” said Bleiweis. “We are embarking on an exciting journey to create the airport of our region’s future, and we couldn’t do it without the support of our community and our travelers. We are grateful for our region’s confidence in their local airport and promise that the next few years of construction will be an adventure worth taking together. The end result will be phenomenal.”