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Low-cost carriers drive growth in Phoenix Sky Harbor passenger traffic

Phoenix Business Journal

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s record year for passenger traffic continued into the second quarter.

The region’s primary airport saw 4,259,818 total passengers that either flew into or out of its terminals in April, which was an 8.7% increase from April 2022 and a 6.5% increase from April 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

April’s hot performance comes after the airport set its all-time monthly passenger record in March with more than 4.6 million total travelers. While March is historically the busiest travel month in Phoenix, the Valley’s tourism season has been extending to April, which has been a benefit to Sky Harbor and the airlines that operate there.

The three airlines with the largest operations at Sky Harbor – American Airlines Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL), Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) and Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) – all saw passenger traffic increase in April from the year before – 7.3%, 2.8% and 6.3% respectively.

While the large airlines were responsible for the majority of passengers at Sky Harbor, smaller airlines, especially low-cost carriers, have made Phoenix a growth destination for them and have increased service and passenger traffic to the airport.

From April 2022 to April 2023, Frontier Airlines (Nasdaq: ULCC) saw its passenger traffic increase 96.5% to 217,749 total passengers. Frontier also increased its number of monthly landings from 356 to 691.

Year-over-year, Spirit Airlines Inc. (NYSE: SAVE) saw its April passenger numbers increase 39.2% and its monthly landings increase 41.1%.

In a May 18 Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board meeting, the city’s director of aviation services, Chad Makovsky, said Spirit and Frontier have both create market competition by adding nonstop flights to eastern parts of the U.S.

In the same meeting, Camilo Henao, the general manager for Frontier Airlines at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport said that Frontier had paused operation of three routes due to the start of the summer season. Even with the seasonal slowdown, Henao said Frontier was still offering nonstop service from Sky Harbor to the most number of destinations to date.


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