New Airport STOMPS Old Airport Numbers [REPORT]

by December 29, 2010 • 12 comments

Northwest Florida International Airport is always a fun topic. Everyone loves to talk about it, read about it and quote words like “projected passenger travel” and “estimated” while throwing numbers around so fast, that even Superman is starting to look a little windburned.

While numbers and statistics are a necessary evil in the realm of progress, reports and city planning, I’m the kind of person who lives life in the blunt lane, so instead of telling me percentages, I need to know how these numbers translate into simple Good Move/Bad Move terms.

On the off chance, that you, too, might be this kind of person, let me translate the newest numbers from our lovely Northwest Florida International Airport.

Airport-technology.com noted that “Panama City-Bay County International is expecting to host 600,000 passengers a year by 2020.” and while we may not be to that point, just yet, that number isn’t as daunting as it could be.

Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines, have both reported an increase in travelers coming and going from our terminals and really, you don’t even need a report from them to find out if the airport is doing it’s job or not. Just go visit. The parking lot is overflowing, there are people waiting to board at gates, and there’s a line to get a hot cup of joe. All these signs say one thing to me, Airport Busy, Bring Book, Big Wait.  Project Airport Relocation is a success.

Basically, our numbers are growing, and despite the chaos from earlier in 2010, we are still seeing a positive increase in passengers. I contacted a Southwest Airlines Communications and Emerging Media Specialist, looking for current numbers. The most recent numbers haven’t been posted from Southwest (publicly) since they typically work on a quarterly base, but I was directed to the RITA site.

RITA, stands for Research and Innovative Technology Administration. RITA offers vital transportation statistics and analysis, and supports national efforts to improve education and training in transportation-related fields. In short, it’s a Department of Transportation site.

The stats posted for Panama City/ International Airport reads as follows:

May 2010

  • 11,000 Arrivals, Ranked 351
  • 9,209 Departures, Ranked 364

*Ranked among 823 US Airports, 12 months ending May 2010

July 2010

  • 91,000 Arrivals, Ranked 218
  • 89,000 Departures, Ranked 220

*Ranked among 820 US Airports, 12 months ending July 2010

September 2010

  • 158,000 Arrivals, Ranked 183
  • 157,000 Departures, Ranked 183

*Ranked among 816 US Airports, 12 months ending September 2010

My call to the actual airport confirmed more recent numbers, listed from May 23 through Nov 30. The amount of passengers the airport has seen trolloping through its building, runs at a respectable 446,135.

To be blunt, the airport is doing great and the coming year has enormous potential. The sheer volume of passengers is likely to continue it’s upswing, improvements will be made at the Airport as seen fit, and traveling in and out of Panama City Beach has never been easier.

Interesting side note though, if you look at the numbers from July, it looks like people fly in to Panama City…but few fly out. Thank you America, you love us! You really love us! One way ticket to the Emerald Coast please!

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1 Jason Koertge December 29, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Excellent post Rya.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to offer a great big, warm glass of “I told you so” to all the cynics who laughed at the “if you build it, they will come” mantra that was being touted during planning and construction of the new airport.

Great job.

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2 Rebecca December 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I travel to PCB at least 6-7 times a year and that new airport is beautiful! Old airport always reminded me a an island airport of yesteryear!

Great Job Northwest Florida’s Beaches

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3 christine December 29, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Lovin’ the new airport…it is so convenient now for those of us from up north. Love Southwest’s low fares too!!! Because of the new airport, I am more likely to visit PCB 3 or 4 times a year instead of once or twice. The car rental rates at the airport seem very high though. Last time I visited, the car rental cost almost as much as the round trip airfare from Philly!

Would be great if the PCB Chamber of Commerce/Visitors bureau could get some car rental specials at the airport to help increase tourism to our area.

Glad to hear the new airport is doing great. The new airport is the primary reason I bought a condo in PCB.

By this spring, we will all be saying “what oil spill?”

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4 Sherry L December 29, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Wow! Those are great numbers! I haven’t flown in or out of the new airport yet but do look forward to the day it is possible. Just think for a minute…when the Southwest/Airtran deal happens what kind of travel numbers will there be when the Atlanta market opens up.

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5 PCB Rob January 4, 2011 at 8:18 am

I kind of think Southwest will keep AirTran’s current route from Atlanta to Pensacola in place, and not necessarily add one to here. But that would be great if they did.

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6 PCB Rob January 4, 2011 at 8:16 am

I’m glad they built the new airport and all, it makes it much more convenient for my family to fly direct from Baltimore, and vice-versa. But it seems that some features of the new airport are of the same scale as the old. I mean, the parking lot is too small (hence the makeshift overflow lot) and the restrooms are much too small.

Again, I am glad they built the new airport, since I live on the west end of the beach, getting there is a breeze now.

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7 Thom Bachelder January 4, 2011 at 8:43 am

I really believe the airport is going to be “The Portal to Prosperity” for this region.

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8 Lisa Egstad January 4, 2011 at 9:22 am

Incredible numbers! Thanks for sharing! I’m excited about this new Portal to Propsperity and the positive impact it will have on our real estate market. If you need help finding a property in NW Florida, that’s my specialty!

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9 Mark T January 4, 2011 at 9:23 am

Impressive stats! I flew to Chicago (Delta out and Southwest in) back in October and one thing is for certain: the planes are bigger and full! However, only about half the passengers deplaned here in PCB; the rest flew on to Orlando! I never would have imagined that we would be a connecting city. I don’t think we were before…I wonder if there are stats on passengers originating and ending here. Anyway, just another way that the new airport is a HUGE success!

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