ALPENA - Even with several months where the number of enplanements dropped from 2012, Alpena County Regional Airport had a successful year.
In 2013 the airport posted 15,893, topping the 12,657 paid passengers who flew locally in 2012. By breaking 10,000 enplanements, the airport also is assured to receive $1 million in subsidy funds from the Federal Aviation Administration for last year.
Airport Manager Billi McRoberts said she is pleased with the final numbers, but would like to see them increase more in 2014. She said the slight drop in enplanements in the second half of 2013 has motivated the county to investigate why some travelers may be choosing to fly at airports other then Alpena.
"I think we have a good shot of doing just as well or better this year," McRoberts said. "We are going to do a leakage study that should shed some light on if we're losing customers to other airports and why. The 'why' is the important thing."
December had its share of poor weather, but apparently it had little impact on enplanement figures. McRoberts said there were 1,267 passengers last month, compared to 1,238 in 2012. She said despite the snow, wind and cold weather SkyWest's service continued to be dependable.
"As bad as the weather was we didn't experience any cancellations or major delays," McRoberts said. "It doesn't seem to have stopped people from traveling very much either."
The newly remodeled passenger holding area is now in operation McRoberts said. The room is used to separate passengers who have been screened by security and those who have not until boarding is allowed. McRoberts said customers also can expect some improvements in the lobby area soon.
"We know there is not enough seating right now, but I want people to know I am working on the problem," McRoberts said. "There isn't a lot of room, but I think we will be able to get some more seats in there. I may get them from others airports or somewhere else, but we're working on finding a solution to the shortage of places to sit for the people."
SkyWest, which took over for Delta Airlines last year, is approaching the end of its initial two-year contract to provide air service in Alpena. McRoberts said the contract expires in September and both sides are interested in an extension and a new deal that can be hammered out.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.