Big August at BTR puts year-to-date passenger numbers just below 2012 tally
Passenger volume at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport is down slightly this year through August, compared to the same period in 2012. About 545,000 passengers passed through the local airport during the first eight months of the year, some 2% fewer than during the same period a year ago. Airport officials are optimistic, however, they will finish the year strong, as August experienced the best passenger count in five years. "We're optimistic we will have increases for the remaining months, year over year," says airport spokesman Jim Caldwell, who attributes the anticipated increase to two factors. One is additional seating capacity. Delta and American Eagle have added some larger jets to their local fleet. Also, the U.S. Bowling Congress championship, which ran for the first six months of 2012, greatly increased passenger volume at the airport through June of last year, which made 2013's passenger volume pale by comparison. "For the second half of the year, however, we'll be comparing months without the bowler's conference," Caldwell says, noting that the event brought in thousands of passengers a week while it was under way. Caldwell says airport officials remain hopeful a Florida-based charter air carrier, Elite Airways, will begin offering regularly scheduled service from Baton Rouge, as confirmed by Elite executives earlier this summer. However, he says airport officials are not counting on it, as they have not seen any firm plans from Elite. Airline officials did not return a call for comment. —Stephanie Riegel
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