Des Moines International Airport set a record for passenger activity in 2013, and its executive director projects another record in 2014.

 

A total of 2.2 million passengers flew into or out of Des Moines last year, a 5.8 percent increase from the previous record set in 2012.

 

"I attribute it to getting our fares in line, the competition here at the airport that didn't exist prior to that, and better air service from the carriers," said Don Smithey, executive director of the airport. "And that precludes our passengers from having to go other places to get that same type of service. They can get it right here at the Des Moines International Airport."

 

The competition that Smithey refers to started with Southwest Airlines coming to the Des Moines airport.. Southwest began service to Chicago in September of 2012 and added service to Las Vegas in September of 2013. Smithey attributes low-fare carriers in Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines as complementing Southwest.

 

Other major airlines, such as U.S. Airways, have had to expand their service by adding seats on some routes, he said.

 

"They've identified the market is underserved and way overpriced. Once it moderated and became competitive, there's opportunities here that they're taking advantage of," Smithey said.

 

An October Business Record article identified that fares have gone down in Des Moines compared with surrounding Midwest cities.

 

Smithey expects the growth to continue this year, projecting a 3 to 6 percent growth. He plans to keep the airlines informed about potential routes that could be successful; for example, a direct flight to St. Louis on Southwest.

 

"We've got major growth here taking place, and that growth actually means to the airlines that there's more potential," Smithey said.

 

Airport cargo activity for 2013 was down 3.2 percent, but up 10.4 percent in December.