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Syracuse airport sees highest numbers in nearly 30 years

Ellen Abbott

If Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport seems more crowded lately, that's because it is. Airport officials say August was its busiest month in nearly 30 years.

Executive Director Jason Terreri said passenger traffic in Syracuse was up 13% in August compared to last year, with the highest number of passengers in one month since 1990. And Terreri said that statistic isn’t an outlier, with passenger traffic for all of 2019 so far up 12.8% over last year. That followed an 11.6% increase the previous year. 

So what’s happening?

Terreri said new flights to Denver and points south have helped. But one other thing is that legacy airlines, like American or JetBlue, have started using larger planes in their Syracuse routes.

"For example, Delta used to fly 50-seat regional RJ’s, regional jets, in here," said Terreri. "And what we’re seeing now are 737s or A320s which can be roughly 136 seats and above."

And these planes are 80-90% full. 

"It’s really been driven by what’s going on in this region in terms of businesses moving in, more people moving in the area, and the health of the economy. That’s what we’re seeing," he said.

And officials expect the upward trend to continue.

"We know through the last half of this year we are expecting 16% increase in capacity, year over year," Terreri said. "So the airlines have confidence in the market, and we’ve seen a good response in the capacity they’re adding."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.