Passengers, profits up at Louisville Regional Airport in 2010

By Jon Chrisos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As the year winds down, the Louisville Regional Airport Authority is taking a trip back, while looking ahead to 2011. The Airport Authority says things are taking off and gaining momentum. The number of passengers flying in and out is up and so are profits.

For an industry that's been struggling to soar since the recession, airline experts say the second half of this year will go down as when the winds shifted and things started to turn around. For the first time since 2007, airlines in North America are expected to make a profit: a $5 billion one.

"Business travelers have been the core revenue base of airlines over time, and we saw the purge of the business traveler with the downturn of the economy," Skip Miller with the Airport Authority said.

Miller said those business and leisure travelers are coming back. The picture is especially pleasant compared to Louisville's regional competitors. Scheduled seats in and out of Louisville are up more than 6%. Compare that to not even 3% in Cincinnati, 2% in Indianapolis, and down more than 9% in Evansville.

"We have done exceedingly well compared to our competitors, which is exactly where we want to be which allows us to remain the consumer airport of choice," Miller said.

Airlines are offering fewer flights, but flights are more full. While the airport authority says it's proud of 2010, it has a lot of work to do next year including trying to wrap up the decades old Resident Relocation Program. During a November special report, we discovered dozens of families are still waiting to move.

"The unfortunate situation is as we get closer to the end we have more difficult cases as to why people are still there," project manager Burt Deutsch said.

Five families have moved since our story ran in November; 68 are still waiting.

Louisville's airport will also see new flights in 2011. United Airlines plans to add new direct flights to Washington D.C.'s Dulles in April.

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