Spokane Airports Update for June 2011

The data in chart form. Data for the first 6 months is used to estimate the remainder of the year 2011.

While the first six months enplanements are down -2.36%, the month of June is down -5.5% total which could be an early indicator that the economy is softening again but it is too early to tell for sure.

(Update: Port of Seattle shipments have declined -10.3% starting in May and continuing in June. BNSF and UP are carrying roughly equal freight loads to one year ago as of a few weeks ago, and one year ago was considerably less than prior to 2008. Bulk shipments of coal and grain by rail are also down about -10% YoY. Combined with the local airport numbers, this does look like the possible start of a new downturn.)

The official press release concerning SIA:

Note the reference to the use of airport data as an indicator of the local economic situation in Spokane. Even the tiniest increase shows “the local economy continues to improve”. Odd, though, how all the decreases in airport usage and service apparently indicate no changes in the local economy!

Charter aircraft services out of SIA are down -46.3% since last year.  Charters have been below last year for 4 of the preceding 6 months, and sharply lower in June, with a decrease of -77%. But cargo is indeed up slightly, which is good.

It seems likely that 2011 passenger enplanements will be just below 2010, and 2012 is likely to be at or slightly below 2011 levels due to the loss of the Southwest flights to Seattle. But things could change for the better in 2012. While Alaska Air will add 2 flights to replace those lost by Southwest, Alaska will be flying smaller aircraft with just over 1/2 the seats that Southwest provided.

The official press release concerning Felts:

While June cargo at Felts Field is up for June, for the year, cargo through Felts Field is down -45%.

After a couple of months of good weather, we may have a better understanding as to whether the first half Felts Field traffic drop was due to weather or something else.

REMINDER: The airport is a proxy for the local economy. The fall off in flights, non-stop destinations and passengers is primarily a reflection of the local and national economy . The data suggest that Spokane’s economy is doing worse than elsewhere. The data presented do not mean that airport management is (presently) doing a bad job, although their PR spin is amusing.


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