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2021 is Springfield Branson National Airport’s 4th best year on record

Airport hopes to continue trajectory in 2022
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:48 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield Branson National Airport representatives say 2021 was its fourth-best year ever.

They reported 968,227 passengers at the airport in 2021, a large increase over the COVID-19-impacted 598,604 passengers in 2020. According to Kent Boyd, a spokesperson at Springfield Branson National Airport, that brings its numbers up to around 80 percent of what they were before the pandemic.

Passenger numbers at Springfield Branson National Airport in the last seven years.
Passenger numbers at Springfield Branson National Airport in the last seven years.

“2021 went better than we anticipated,” says Boyd. “Not quite sure what to attribute it to other than the strong local economy, but no complaints.”

The airport started offering flights to three new destinations in 2021 through Allegiant Airlines: Austin, Texas, Punta Gorda, Fla., and Houston, Texas. Boyd hopes the growing trend will continue in 2022. The flights’ passengers are booking have shifted in the last year. Business travel dropped off dramatically, Boyd says. Leisure travel increased. With inflation increasing at the fastest rate in 40 years and COVID-19 sticking around in the U.S., leisure travel could see a drop-off.

“It depends on the course of the pandemic, and it depends on what the economy does,” explains Boyd. “The economy’s a really important factor because when people are doing better, they tend to fly more. And when they’re not doing so well financially, they cut back on things like flying. The airlines try to forecast what’s going to happen, but in this environment, their crystal balls are broken.”

Boyd also says that anyone wanting more direct destinations at SGF will have to continue to wait. In September of last year, the airport received a $750,000 grant, to add a direct flight to Washington D.C. through American Airlines. Boyd says nothing has happened with that project since.

“It’s available to use to try to entice American to fly to Washington Reagan Airport, but the airlines aren’t expanding right now,” says Boyd. “A pandemic or not, this whole process of trying to get a new destination, even when you have grant money in hand, is a slow process.”

The last time the airport used grant funding to entice an airline to add a destination was when flights were added to Charlotte, NC, through American. Boyd says that was a six-year process.

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