Springfield - Branson National Airport likely will reach 1 million passengers in 2017

By  | 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - With the unofficial kickoff of summer comes the new, sunny destination of Destin - Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., helping boost numbers at the Springfield - Branson National Airport to record levels.

"The security lines are easy to get through and so friendly," said Susan Butts, a traveler who flies in and out of SGF on a regular basis.

The Springfield airport is now one of the fastest growing of its size nationwide, with United set to add twice-daily service to Houston in June.

"The timing was right, and they decided to drop in a couple flights a day," said airport director Brian Weiler.

Weiler said the growth amounts to about 30 percent just within the last five years.

"I think the southwest Missouri economy is doing well. People have more money to travel and they want to travel. I think that's driving a lot of the growth," Weiler said.

Weiler anticipates the airport will reach 1 million passengers this year. Going past that number will help the airport attract more options, like additional restaurants.

The milestone of one million passengers in 2017 will also help keep up the momentum for the possibilities adding airlines and destinations.

"I'd like to see direct connections: direct flights to wherever I'm headed," Butts said.

As for the possibility of adding Southwest Airlines, Weiler said that likely will not happen in the near future.

"What Southwest likes to see is a million metropolitan area to do that. We are always talking to multiple airlines and always working on air service development issues. It's got to make sense for the airline, and we have to have the community support for that," Weiler said.

Allegiant Airlines recently extended its seasonal service to Destin - Ft. Walton Beach through October.