Airport's Busiest Year, Slow for Holidays - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/21/05

Airport's Busiest Year, Slow for Holidays

It has been a busy year for Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. In fact, its busiest year ever. Today, for the first time in its history, the airport welcomed its one millionth passenger within a single year, clearly a huge milestone. Airport officials say they can take this number to airlines to lure more flights and companies to the airport.

Lucky number one million was David Kaye of Richmond Hill, flying Delta Airlines. "Savannah is a great airport," he said. "It's convenient, and I like the size of the airport better than the bigger ones. It's just a wonderful airport."

For being the one millionth passenger, the airport not only treated Kaye like a celebrity, but also gave him a free round-trip ticket from Delta and a goodie bag.

Airport officials, in the past ten years, passenger totals have nearly doubled. But the trend may be slowing down just a bit. Travel numbers seem to be down compared to last year at this time.

So far, it has been pretty quiet. Of course it will get a little busier as we get closer to Christmas. But people at the airport are expecting fewer passengers over the holidays.

Traveler Julie Russo of Beaufort had her Christmas gifts in tow and figured the earlier the better. "Very slow," she said. "I was thinking I would be here two or three hours early, ahead of time. We just rolled in a few minutes ago."

"It's a little slow, down a little bit from last year," said airport spokesperson Lori Lynah. She tells us airlines cutting flights and moving equipment to international flights hasn't helped draw passengers. One look at the parking lots tells the story.

Don't let the few cars in the extra economy parking lot fool you. They are holdovers from Thanksgiving. Airport officials have looked at passenger flight numbers and it is so slow, they don't expect t be using the extra parking lot at all.

"We do have it ready to go, in case we see more passengers than expected," said Lynah.

Wednesday afternoon, the main economy parking lot, available at $5 a day, only had a few cars. Inside the airport, there were some lines.

But Julie Russo says it's nothing like what she is used to.

It should get a lot busier over the next few days. Though it's just not like what they are used to so far, airport officials are warning people to get there at least an hour and a half early, just in case.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

Powered by Frankly