Provo airport jumps to second busiest in state

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Crews unload an Allegiant Air flight on the Provo Municipal Airport runway. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
Crews unload an Allegiant Air flight on the Provo Municipal Airport runway. (Chris Bunker)

The Provo Municipal Airport climbed to Utah’s second busiest airport after previously being ranked at No. 4 in the state, according to final 2014 data released this week by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Provo airport is one of seven commercial airports in Utah, including others in St. George and Ogden. Salt Lake City is Utah’s busiest airport and the 25th busiest airport in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. However, Provo is slowing chipping away at some of those sales.

“I love the Provo airport because it saves me time, money and guilt from driving around so much,” said Lori Argyle, Provo resident and frequent flyer. “It is just so close and I am always for anything that saves me from making that long drive down I-15.”

The Provo Municipal Airport increased over double its sales, going from $30,090 in 2013 to $62,011 in 2014, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Some factors contributing to this increase are new flights, including weekly flights to Arizona, and new destinations such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

For Provo airport manager Steve Gleason, the surge in sales means “the count is just catching up with reality.”

“A huge part of the market flying out of Salt Lake is coming out of Utah County. It could be as high as 21 percent,” said Gleason. “So we know there is a huge market for air travel here.”

Another factor for the increase in boardings at Provo’s airport is the extra air travel created by BYU.

BYU is the home to many out-of-state students. While 33 percent of students are from Utah, 12 percent come from California, and Washington, Idaho and Texas each represent five percent of the BYU population, according to BYU’s Y Facts.

“The BYU community has a huge impact on the Provo airport because these are the majority of the people booking the flights,” Gleason said. “Students, parents, alumni and just tourists fly through the Provo airport to attend special events at the BYU campus such as Education Week, Women’s Conference and especially sports events. All these travelers have a major impact on the air traffic of the Provo Airport.”

BYU student Kennedy Bailey, 22, a junior from Dallas majoring in public relations, flew home for the holidays from the Provo airport.

“Typically I would use (the) Salt Lake airport because it has more flights,” Bailey said. “But if I can, I would choose Provo airport just because it is much more convenient, especially when you do not have a car.”

Despite the growth of Provo and other airports, data from the Federal Aviation Administration shows that 98 percent of air travelers boarding in Utah still use Salt Lake City International Airport. But with more demand, the Provo airport will continue to provide more services.

Allegiant Air said in a written statement, “We’re very pleased with our service from Ogden and Provo and passenger demand for our low-cost flights,” and said that the airline has been adding flights as demand has increased.

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