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Outbound passengers up 9th year for airport

January 22, 2019 GMT

Fort Wayne International Airport ended 2018 with its ninth consecutive year of growth in outbound passengers : and plans to start expanding the terminal building.

Officials made the announcements Monday, highlighted by the Airport Authority’s first board meeting of 2019.

Officials said 2018, with 381,149 outbound passengers, marked the fourth year of record-breaking traffic. The increase over 2017 amounted to nearly 3.5 percent, they said.

Outbound passenger traffic, a standard industry measure, has grown every year since 2010. The airport broke its original traffic record, set in 2000, in 2016, according to an airport news release.

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After making several physical improvements to the facility last year, airport officials plan to begin architectural design of a terminal expansion this year.

Construction is planned for 2020, said Scott Hinderman, executive director of airports for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority.

Hinderman said aspects of the “pre-9/11” terminal to be updated include outbound baggage handling, circulation in front of ticket counters and space around the airport’s eight gate areas.

“We have eight gates, but it would be difficult to put eight aircraft in front of our eight gates at one time,” he said.

Airport officials anticipate starting their search for an architect in upcoming weeks, Hinderman said. The project does not yet have a dollar value associated with it, he said.

Hinderman attributed the record number of passengers to the region’s economic health.

“There’s a direct correlation between a strong economy and ... utilization of the airport,” he said. 

But Hinderman noted that the addition of Allegiant flights to Philadelphia International Airport also played a role in boosting traffic. However, he said, all the other airlines that use the airport : American, Delta and United : also experienced traffic upticks.

The airlines have nine destinations where passengers can connect to a wide array of domestic and international flights.

In 2016, the airport had 365,884 departing passengers; up from 359,051 in 2015 and 324,151 in 2014. In 2017, the number was 368,282.

The total number of passengers last year was 797,519.

In 2018, the airport’s improvement projects included a $3.35 million terminal entrance road that also connects to all three parking lots, the introduction of a valet parking service and the beginning of a rehabilitation project for Runway 5/23.

Also during Monday’s board meeting, Barry Sturges was elected president, Ben Johnston was elected vice president, and Tim Haffner was elected secretary. 

rsalter@jg.net