SAV/HHI Int'l Airport sees largest passenger total since 2005

SAV/HHI Int'l Airport sees largest passenger total since 2005

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - As we look to the future and past all this nasty weather in the current forecast, a lot of you have already begun to check flights for your spring break trips in March and April.

Interestingly enough, Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport has recently seen a huge jump in the number of passengers flying out. Is that because ticket prices have become more competitive with airports in Charleston and Jacksonville?

If only it were that easy.

There are a number of theories and strategies out there about when and where to buy airline tickets to maximize savings, but here's the thing: We live in a destination area with a smaller airport, which typically means higher prices.

"We're close to Hilton Head, we're close to Savannah, and we try to make it as convenient as possible. Sometimes that is the difference between going out of here or Charleston or Jacksonville," said Lori Lynah, SAV/HHI International Airport.

The difference that closeness and convenience makes is worth it for a number of locals who fly out of this airport, including one Beaufort resident who was catching a flight to Washington D.C. on Thursday.

"Cost is secondary to ease of in-and-out, assuming the cost is not that much different. I just prefer it, so if I can, I fly out of Savannah," said Allan Acree, flying to D.C.

About 70 percent of the airport's traffic are visitors on incoming flights and those have been growing as well. Three million more passengers came through the airport for incoming flights in 2014 compared to 2013. And 2015 was a big year, too, with the most passengers the airport has seen in the last ten years.

The addition of Jet Blue in 2014 was a big part of that, but an improving economy is also a factor, as well as budget airlines like Allegiant.

"It's great to get people out who don't usually, who usually get in the car and drive to their vacation spot. This opens up a lot more places to go and really is reasonable with the lower fares," said Lynah.

But regardless of the growth the airport has seen, it still doesn't stop some from looking elsewhere if it means a cheaper ticket.

"I've actually driven to Jacksonville International Airport, because it was cost-effective as well as it wasn't as time-consuming as it would've been had I come here via connection flights and things of that nature," said Lenard Summers, flying to Louisiana.

WTOC compared flights to the same destination on the same dates from three nearby airports. In both cases, it was more expensive to fly out of Savannah than Charleston or Jacksonville.

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