Airport traffic falls 30 percent, as forecast

The number of people flying out of Bellingham in June 2015 dropped by 30 percent compared to June 2014, but the drop is in line with what airport officials expected and should be temporary.

In short, fewer people are flying from Bellingham because there are fewer flights and seats available. Starting this summer, Frontier Airlines cancelled service to Denver, Allegiant reduced flights to Las Vegas and other airports, and Alaska Airlines reduced flights to Las Vegas and Seattle.

The cuts didn’t come in response to a lack of demand. Frontier canceling service to Denver is a result of the airline’s reductions at Denver, one of its hub airports, airport consultant Ben Munson said earlier this year in a presentation to Port of Bellingham Commissioners.

Munson, vice president of airport consulting firm Forecast, said Allegiant’s changes are tactical, as it is shifting focus to Florida and the East Coast

Alaska Airlines is moving planes to its base at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in response to competition from Delta, which has roughly doubled its flights out of Seattle in the last two years, Munson said.

Mark Leutwiler, airport manager, said the numbers should change in the fall. Alaska is planning to bring back service to Hawaii and Las Vegas starting in November, he said in an email. Airlines are still finalizing their winter flight schedules, he said.

The airport is also searching for a new director of aviation to replace Daniel Zenk, who left in June to take a job as senior manager in the aviation operations division at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Leutwiler said the Port of Bellingham is conducting a nationwide search and hopes to have the position filled by October, if not sooner.

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