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NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Record increases in traffic underscore airport’s value

The growth and prosperity of Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana seems to be positively affecting Fort Wayne International Airport, which has reported setting records for passenger traffic 10 years in a row.

The days of travelers bypassing FWA to look for better deals on flights in other cities may be waning. The inconvenience and costs of a two-hour drive and parking to fly out of Indianapolis International Airport have gradually been offset by the increased number of local carriers, lower costs and the obvious conveniences of easy parking, short lines at the ticket counters, complimentary curbside luggage assistance and free shuttle rides to the parking lots at FWA.

The Fort Wayne airport added its 13th non-stop destination (seasonally) in 2019 with flights to Sarasota, Fla., on Allegiant Air. Other non-stop destinations on Allegiant include Phoenix/Mesa, Orlando/Sanford, Tampa/St.Petersburg, Fort Myers/Punta Gorda and Myrtle Beach, S.C. (seasonally).

American Airlines offers direct service to Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare, Charlotte and Philadelphia. Delta flies non-stop to Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis. And United flies directly to Chicago O’Hare.

An airport news release last week announced FWA is celebrating year-over-year growth over the last 10 years through 2019, including breaking the all-time record for passenger traffic traveling through the airport four straight years, from 2016 through 2019. The 2016 record eclipsed the previous record set in 2000.

Last year, 791,800 passengers (an average of 65,983 per month) flew in and out of the airport, which was an increase of 4.53 percent over 2018. That total included 397,938 passengers who boarded outbound flights.

“Ten years of consecutive passenger growth is something to celebrate,” Executive Director of Airports at Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority Scott Hinderman said in the news release. “And we are thankful for the support of the Northeast Indiana region throughout the years.”

FWA said in the news release it plans to hold a celebration of its record in the terminal building as a thank you to its loyal customers.

It also announced plans to begin design work this year on a terminal expansion project, beginning with the creation of a consolidated baggage inspection system to create a more efficient workflow for FWA TSA and an expansion of an additional gate to the concourse. Actual construction is expected to begin in early 2021.

And this year will see the beginning of a $13.4 million terminal apron improvement project that will see “the area of the airport where aircraft are parked for unloading/loading/refueling/boarding, reconstructed to accommodate for the future terminal expansion and gate area reconfiguration,” according to the news release.

“As Northeast Indiana continues to grow and uses FWA as their first choice for air travel, the airport will grow and be able to attract new or expanded routes with the airlines,” Hinderman stated in the news release. “Looking ahead to 2020, we are excited to begin work on the terminal expansion project and look forward to bringing an even higher caliber of service to our passengers.”

News-Sentinel.com recommends travelers support FWI. Recognized as “the nation’s friendliest airport” by USA Today, according to Visit Fort Wayne, FWA has a lot to offer travelers – even freshly baked cookies to welcome those flying into Fort Wayne.

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