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“I think in general fares were a little bit cheaper,” said Terry Slaybaugh, Dayton Airport and city of Dayton aviation director. “We saw a little bit of that last year in the third quarter, but our situation hasn’t changed radically since Southwest left. We continue to have the same amount of capacity, priced at about the same price points.”
Southwest Airlines pulled services from the Dayton airport in June 2017. The low-cost carrier contributed about 25 percent of the total capacity at the airport, Slaybaugh said.
Now Allegiant Air is the only low-cost carrier that flies through Dayton, which contributes to the higher-than-average cost.
“I’m pleased that we have the number of markets we serve, 17 cities, and I’m going to have to be happy with 3,000 to 3,200 seats because that’s just who we are and I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future,” Slaybaugh said.
The airfare costs have had an impact on the number of passengers flying out of the airport.
By August this year, the number of passengers boarding a plan at the Dayton airport had dropped 5.4 percent to 608,000 from 643,000 by the same time the year before. Between January and August 2014, before Cincinnati grew in popularity, Dayton enplaned more than 800,000 passengers.
Meanwhile, CVG’s average fare has dropped 43 percent in the last four years as low-cost carriers found success, something that was previously not a reality for Cincinnati. As fares dropped, Cincinnati travelers who once drove to Dayton to fly during its heyday began utilizing the airport closer to their home.
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“We’re excited to receive one of the best airfare rankings in our 71-year history,” said Mindy Kershner, CVG spokeswoman.
The Cincinnati airport is now the 18th cheapest airport in the nation. It’s also the cheapest airport in the region. Of the top 100 destinations from Cincinnati, 80 percent saw a decline in airfare over the last year, Kershner said.
As the price gap between Dayton and Cincinnati grows, the tables have turned and Dayton-area travelers have begun the hike — roughly 77 miles from the Dayton airport to CVG — to fly for a lower cost through Cincinnati, leading to Cincinnati recently reaching a three-month record for local passengers.
“CVG has the lowest fares in the Tri-State because of the incredible positive response from the community,” said Candace McGraw, chief executive officer of CVG. “As our passenger traffic increases, and airline competition increases, airfares go down.”
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Slaybaugh said the Dayton airport is optimistic about goals to expand into new markets, attract new airlines, gain capacity, and work with airlines to add new equipment at the airport over the next year.
While the airport works on the expansion, it’s traffic is stable because PSA Airlines’ maintenance hub, along with Air Wisconsin’s maintenance hub for four aircraft that fly for United Airlines have been added, Slaybaugh said.
“We’ll grow again,” he said. “I mean, we have to grow because we’re in a great market and we know we can support more service….We know the demand is here because people are driving out of the market for service,” Slaybaugh said. “We know that more capacity is needed in Dayton and that we can support it.”
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