(Cayce) For the first time in the airport’s history, Columbia Metropolitan Airport has achieved five consecutive years of growth. Final statistics for 2016 indicate that the airport’s total number of enplanements for the year came in at 559,523 which translates to a 2.40% increase over the total number of enplanements in 2015. The total traffic count for the year was finalized at 1,132,329 people traveling through the airport in 2016 for an overall increase of 2.77%.
However, perhaps of greater interest to the flying public is the fact that, in addition to the increased passenger numbers, airfares at CAE have fallen 11% since 2012, and continue to fall.
Airport Director, Dan Mann, has long said that the five-year milestone is a benchmark that he has been working toward since taking the helm at the airport in 2010 but he is quick to acknowledge that reaching the goal comes as a result of the hard work and commitment of the airport staff and consistent support from the community and other airport stakeholders.
“For the Columbia Metropolitan Airport to experience five consecutive years of growth is unprecedented,” says Mann. “I can tell you that the significance of this benchmark isn’t lost on me or our team but, most importantly, we realize that reaching this milestone does not come as a result of any one person's work. The fact is, we reached this goal through the collective effort of the entire airport staff, our stakeholders, and the community that we serve. For years, we’ve been beating this drum and asking the public to make us their first choice for air travel and folks have done just that. As a result, the airlines recognized the increased demand from our passengers and they responded accordingly.”
Anthony Gilmer, the airport’s Air Service and Marketing Manager echoes that sentiment. “Airlines grew their seat capacity here almost 5% in 2016 vs 2015 and the Columbia market responded by flying in those extra seats. We’ve seen airlines continue to add larger aircraft on our Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas routes, while maintaining their existing schedules to other cities. As long as people continue to check CAE first and use our local airport, we’ll continue to see larger aircraft and potentially more destinations in the future.”
In addition to growth in passenger numbers the airport also saw a 6% increase in cargo numbers with a total of 132,430,000 tons of cargo handled by the airport in 2016.
With Columbia Metropolitan Airport’s first major milestone under its belt and 2017 officially underway, Dan Mann and the airport team are now focused on new goals and benchmarks.
“This industry continues to be volatile and there are a lot of things looming out there, like the pilot shortage but we are well positioned to weather what may come and maybe even continue to grow. I’m excited about what we have underway right now; the terminal upgrades, a dynamic staff and who knows, we might even get a low cost carrier sooner instead of later. Nothing is guaranteed but we’re certainly going to work towards it.”
Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) is the premier air travel provider for South Carolina’s Midlands region. The airport offers more than 30 daily non-stop flights to 9 major airports nationwide. CAE is a self-sufficient entity and does not receive any state or local tax dollars. Visit our website at www.columbiaairport.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/flycae.