The first monthly passenger numbers for Southwest Airlines Co. service appear to bode well for Des Moines International Airport as overall passenger traffic continues to skyrocket.
Overall passenger traffic in Des Moines was up 9.10 percent in October as compared with the same month in 2011, according to numbers released by the airport today. Traffic is up 8.38 percent for the year, and numbers have been up every month on a year-over-year basis.
A total of 13,463 passengers were enplaned or deplaned on Southwest Airlines in October. The twice-daily service to and from Chicago’s Midway International Airport started on Sept. 30.
By airport Executive Director Don Smithey’s rough calculations, the Southwest passenger count adds up to about an 80 percent load rate. There is no industry average number for that, he said, but to have a higher load rate would mean that “on certain days you’d have difficulty booking.”
“It certainly meets what we felt was acceptable,” Smithey said. “Would we like to see it higher? Of course. But for the first month of operation, 80 percent is a pretty good load factor.”
A spokeswoman from Southwest said that the service numbers have been “in line with expectations,” and that “our outlook for the rest of 2012 and into 2013 remains very positive for the market.”
With 1,734,925 total passengers passing through the airport through the first 10 months, traffic is on pace to exceed the 2 million mark for the first time ever.
The high overall traffic volume at the airport is partly attributable to the announcement of Southwest entering the market, Smithey said, which has likely led to lower ticket prices. It is also partly attributable to a better Central Iowa economy, he said.
Smithey would like to see more Southwest service added to the airport, and said he keeps in regular contact with officials at the airline to make sure they know any pertinent information that could lead to more destinations. An airline official told the Business Record in August that Southwest would monitor the current service before making any decision on future additions.