Abilene air passenger numbers down from last year, but up from two years ago

POSTED: 9:42 PM Dec 26 2012   UPDATED: 10:59 PM Dec 26 2012
abilene regional airport
ABILENE, Texas -

Over the past year, fewer passengers have flown in and out of Abilene Regional Airport.

In 2011, airport traffic jumped 11 percent from 2010 due to an increase in firefighters flying through Abilene.

In 2011, Texas faced the worst wildfire season to date. The Texas Forest Service set up a Command Center in Merkel, and first responders were constantly flying through Abilene Regional Airport.

"They were moving personnel in and out of the area on a daily basis. That bumped up the numbers last year," said Don Green, Director of Abilene Regional.

He says that is what made the difference.

"It goes back to the forest service activity. We're seeing that was the real pop."

He says the number of flyers this year are down from then, but have improved since the economy was at its worst.

"In 2010 we were still recovering from the recession. While we continue to see that kind of thing, we're not in as bad a shape as two or three years ago," said Green.

While the numbers are down, one passenger says he wouldn't travel any other way.

"My flying has been considerably more this year. I fly on business, I've flown on several personal trips...it's the only way to go," said traveler Don Ray.

Green also says flights have been full this holiday season.

Weather has also caused some delays at the airport. Passengers flying out of Abilene Regional Airport have faced some bumps in their commute.

According to airport officials, four flights were cancelled due to the weather. All of those flights were arrivals.

Don Ray said waited hours. A 5:30 a.m. scheduled flight turned into an 11 a.m. boarding.

"It's been a long wait today...you know sometimes you get stuck with weather," he said.

"It's something we prepare for and we're pretty good at handling it at this point," said Green.