PITTSTON TWP. — Passenger numbers at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport soared to record heights in 2017 and the expectation is that the sky’s the limit.
Meanwhile, new daily flights to several major cities are on the way in the coming months.
At its meeting Thursday, the airport board listened as Carl Beardsley, executive director, announced that nearly 532,000 passengers flew in and out of the airport last year, breaking the old record of 491,416 set in 1990.
Beardsley there were 268,197 enplanements in 2017, the highest in airport history, eclipsing the 1990 record of 246,543. He said over the last 10 years, annual enplanements have grown from 223,130 in 2008.
Beardsley also said the airport’s business from the lower tier of New York has increased dramatically. He said a 10-year review of New York vehicles parked overnight has increased from 11,858 in 2008, to 30,072 in 2017.
Beardsley said he and his staff are always mindful of the many issues that can affect business and they are working every day to minimize their impacts.
“Airports of our size are constantly confronted with the comings and goings of airlines’ business needs and market assessments,” Beardsley said, noting the recent departure of Allegiant Air from the airport.
“We’re always managing this reality,” he continued. “But more flights are on the horizon. We are having constant discussions with airline partners, existing and new, to develop additional services here at AVP.”
Beardsley then announced that beginning in April, American Airlines will add one daily flight to Charlotte and one to Philadelphia. In June, Beardsley said American Airlines will add two new daily flights to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
“In June, American Airlines alone will have a new total of 10 daily departures,” Beardsley said. “This is in addition to the recently announced Pittsburgh service that is scheduled to begin in the spring.”
Beardsley expects additional service announcements in coming weeks, with the top priority being to find an airline with direct service to Florida destinations to fill the gap left when Allegiant left in early January.
In other business, the airport board approved its 2018 budget in the amount of $5,993,619.
Patrick O’Malley, Lackawanna County commissioner, was elected chairman of the airport board, succeeding Luzerne County Councilman Tim McGinley, who was named co-chairman.
“AVP’s importance to Northeastern Pennsylvania and the economy continues to grow,” O’Malley said, donning a Chicago Cubs hat to celebrate the new flights to the Windy City. “Travelers from Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York expect AVP to keep them connected to the world, and we’re doing so.”
Beardsley said the airport has seen steady growth for the last three years.
”As demand for air service continues to rise in Northeastern Pennsylvania, we have been working with our current airlines and new airlines, to ensure residents have excellent connectivity to the world.”