With more flights and a new terminal, SLO airport is one of fastest growing in U.S.

San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport has been ranked the fifth-fastest growing airport in the United States by the Airports Council International, after the airport saw a 23.4 percent increase in passengers in 2017 from 2016 levels.

“2017 was a transformative year for us,” county director of airports Kevin Bumen said in a written statement. “This rise in passenger numbers shows how committed our residents are to flying from their hometown airport.”

That year, Alaska began services to Seattle, while United added both service to Denver and a fourth daily flight to San Francisco. Since then, United has added another flight to Denver and began using larger planes.

Airport officials recently said they’ve been in communication with airlines about adding even more destinations, but any announcement won’t be made until early next year.

According to a news release from the council, the jump in use to a record 407,646 passengers last year is attributed to new flights departing from a new terminal, which opened in November 2017, as well as collaborative work by the Economic Vitality Corporation and countywide tourism bureau Visit SLO Cal to attract businesses and tourists to the area.

In 2017, airplane passenger traffic across the United States and Canada grew 3.7 percent, and cargo traffic increased 7.1 percent, according to the Airports Council International. Most of the airports that experienced growth are small hubs or non-hub airports, like the San Luis Obispo airport.

“We’re showing that passengers are willing to skip the inconvenience of driving long distances to large hubs if they can get to their destination from their local airport,” Bumen said. “We’re grateful to our airline partners for their growth in our region, and to our community for continuing to fly local.”

Local news matters: We rely on readers like you more than ever before, and we currently offer free access to five stories a month. Support us further with a digital subscription to help ensure we can provide strong local journalism for many years to come. #ReadLocal

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930; @MonicaLVaughan
Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune