Montgomery Regional Airport Facing Challenges, Seeing Low Traffic

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By Ashley Thompson

The Montgomery Regional Airport could be in trouble just eight years after it underwent major renovations. Extremely low foot traffic now has city leaders concerned.

Chip Gentry is the Vice President of Air Service Development at Montgomery Regional Airport. He tells us the airport has seen a drastic drop in passengers lately.

"We had twenty thousand drop last year which is an extremely large amount," he says. "Especially for a city our size, for not losing air service. We haven't lost the level of air service."

Gentry says technically an airport's number of passengers should be three times that of the city's population. Montgomery Regional Airport should get around 900 thousand passengers per year but right now, only 161 thousand are coming through. He says it's because more people are flying out of Atlanta and Birmingham instead.

"But at the same time, you're neglecting the economy, our economy here."

Airport leaders are partnering with the Chamber of Commerce to try to bring more awareness to the airport. They're rebranding, using the slogan Fly MGM. Some travelers say a new look is needed. Tiffany Donahue is flying back to her home in Virgina.

"There's not many options," she says. "I think there's only like a subway here."

But are other factors keeping some passengers from using Montgomery's airport? Ann Berry Thomas tells us she doesn't like the hassle of driving to Atlanta to fly into her home state of New York but says she isn't a fan of Montgomery's higher ticket prices.

"I just flew to Long Island, New York and it was 663 dollars and there was a girl who was coming from Long Island but from about an hour away and she said she paid 92 dollars."

But Gentry says ticket prices would go down if more people used the Montgomery airport, which he says has it's advantages.

 

"It's the ease of clearing security, finding your way through the parking lot to the ticket counters. In some cases, if you're able to print off a boarding pass ahead of time, not checking a bag, it's a breeze to slide right through."

For those who do fly out of Birmingham or Atlanta, Gentry says when you factor in gas money, parking and time, you're probably paying about as much as you would have flying out of Montgomery.

Last year, just 1.6 percent of flights were cancelled at the Montgomery Regional Airport.

City leaders are saying just like you support your local restaurant or farmers market, you need to support your airport. A lot of people aren't and there are consequences.

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DJMAN said on Monday, Mar 31 at 3:25 PM

MGM should entice an existing or a new airline to fly a larger aircraft such as a 717 or 737 to some of the most traveled to destinations, such as Washington D.C., NYC, Orlando, or Las Vegas. The complaints that I hear the most from people is that they don't care for the small regional jets that fly here and they are tired of having only a few choices such as DFW, ATL, and CLT. Many airports are offering incentives to the airlines to upgrade to larger jets and/or add other destinations. Many other cities also have gotten the business community to support their airports. Montgomery is too large of a city to have such inadequate air service. Larger aircraft are greatly needed to reverse the downward trend of losing passengers. With almost 400,000 residents in the Montgomery metro area, larger aircraft would easily be supported.

Jay Croft said on Tuesday, Mar 25 at 8:00 AM

I just returned from a visit to relatives in Maryland. Despite having to drive to BHM to fly Southwest, the price out of MGM would be just too high. Plus, I loathe the ATL airport. The key to MGM growth is to attract a low-fare airline.

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