Airport Making Strides
November 20, 2013
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  • Strong third quarter financial figures from the Branson Airport confirm what airport officials said they anticipated earlier this year with the arrival of Southwest Airlines.

    A report filed with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board showed the airport generated $1.5 million from operations during the third quarter, a 57 percent increase,  compared with $983,000 the previous quarter.

    The $1.5 million in operations income also accounts for 70 percent of the income from operations in all of 2013.

    The airport posted a $1.7 million loss from operations the same time last year and the airport has cut its net losses in half this year at $7 million, compared to $14.3 million in 2012.

    Branson Airport Executive Director Jeff Bourk declined to comment on the finances.

    Southwest Airlines took over services by AirTran in March and has grown its seat capacity since. By the end of the year, the airport will have offered 58,000 more seats than were available in 2012 when AirTran was operating the flights and will continue to increase available seats into 2014, according to information from the airport.

    A recent study from the Missouri Department of Transportation showed the airport has had significant economic impact on the area.

    According to the report, the airport created 1,460 jobs, paid more than $35 million in payroll and made a $91 million economic impact in 2012.

    MoDOT Aviation Operations Manager Bryan Gregory said the study, which was funded by a federal grant, was last conducted in 2002. Branson Airport opened in May 2009.

    Out of nine commercial airports in the state, Gregory said, Branson Airport essentially tied for fourth with Columbia Regional Airport in economic impact. Columbia Regional Airport made an $87 million impact.

    “We are really happy to see an independent study by MoDOT of the aviation industry found the same results,” Bourk previously told the Branson Tri-Lakes News.

    Bourk said 140 people are employed involving airport operations and the rest of the economic impact comes from visitors.

    Frontier Airlines, the other commercial airline offering flights to and from Branson, has also increased its service, representing a 42 percent increase over its 2012 service.

    “There are more flights, more seating and more cities to fly into,” Bourk said earlier this year. “Frontier has done well and expanded its seating, but Southwest coming in is really a big game-changer. They’ve added a lot more destinations and added a lot more places to connect to when considering flights in and out of Branson.”

    Southwest flights accounted for 75 percent of enplanements in the second quarter in 2013 with 27,757, according to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board report.

    Bourk declined to disclose emplanement figures for the third quarter.