Passenger activity at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport grew by 11.5 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, according to airport officials.
In a year-over-year comparison, the airport tallied an additional 28,625 passengers at the facility, said Richard Howell, airport manager. The total passenger count was 277,035, up from 248,810 in 2009-10.
The airport has posted passenger growth for 19 of the past 24 months, with 10 of those months showing double-digit increases, Howell said.
The figures reflect a change in passenger patterns, which showed a steady downward trend in the middle of the decade.
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In the fall of 2008, the airport experienced a 38 percent reduction in seat capacity as airlines responded to high oil prices and a poor economic climate by removing aircraft from their fleets, Howell wrote in a news release.
Since that time, he said, the airport has aggressively promoted itself and recruited air service upgrades to offset the declines in domestic passenger activity that many airports experienced.
The result has been the recovery of 80 to 90 percent of the seats lost in 2008, he said.
The county Board of Supervisors, the San Luis Obispo County Air Transportation Alliance and other community groups have helped in the rebound.
Howell attributes the growth in passengers to the increased number of seats available in the market as well as the need and willingness of the local community to travel via commercial aviation.
Howell said he is continuing ongoing discussions with a number of potential service providers for routes to destinations currently not served from San Luis Obispo County. He could not indicate who those carriers are because of the sensitive nature of the talks.
“We are recruiting for Denver, Sacramento and the Pacific Northwest,” Howell said. “We want to increase our seat counts to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Phoenix as well as connectivity east.”