ROANOKE, Va. – More people continue to fly in and out of Roanoke.
Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport officials announced another month of growth Wednesday. They said June traffic is up 9 percent from the same time last year, as 60,543 passengers used the airport in June, which is more than 5,000 more than did so in June of last year.
The number of passengers has been increasing all year compared to the same months in 2017. Traffic is up 7.8 percent compared to last year, as people have filled 22,590 more seats.
Brad Boettcher, the director of marketing and air service development, said at this pace the airport is on track to have its busiest year since 2007.
"We're absolutely thrilled to see how much stronger growth is this year than it has been the last two years,” he said. "We're very excited. We've had a strong year so far."
Negotiations continue to get direct flights to Dallas, Denver and Detroit after the airport received a federal grant earlier this month. Officials hope to have more information on those potential flights in four to six weeks. The first flights to those destinations would be six to nine months away.
“When the airlines see those types of numbers with traffic growth, it enables us to have more productive conversations with them,” Boettcher said.
Boettcher said he’s been cautiously optimistic that the airport would be able to keep the positive trajectory going after modest growth in 2016 and 2017.
Officials said flight prices have been dropping the last few months and they expect the trend to continue, saying lower prices and increased reliability have given people more of a reason to fly in and out of Roanoke.
“Our customers are using our existing air service and the carriers have taken note. We appreciate the support of our community choosing to fly ROA,” airport director Tim Bradshaw said in a statement.
Boettcher said in about two weeks, airport officials will be able to see results of a survey that will show them the number of people who use other airports who could be flying in and out of Roanoke. He said that will help officials give information to airlines.
The airport will be hosting a conference in early September with airline representatives to show them what Roanoke has to offer, according to Boettcher. He said he hopes to draw new interest for adding more service to and from Roanoke.
“We've gone from not being on the target list to now we're an intriguing possibility on the target list,” Boettcher said.
10 News has more on previous growth announcements here.