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Daytona airport on track to top 2017′s 20-year passenger high

DAYTONA BEACH — After seeing a slight decline to start the new year, Daytona Beach International Airport once again saw passenger traffic rise in February.

The Volusia County-run airport counted 56,684 passengers arrive and/or depart via its gates, a 2.4 percent increase over the 55,338 counted in February 2017.

“February was another positive month for growth,” said Airport Director Rick Karl in a news release.

The uptick in passengers last month followed a slight 0.6 percent year-over-year decline in January, which airport officials largely attributed to the 21 flight cancellations caused by severe winter storms in the Northeast.

In February, by contrast, the airport only had one flight canceled, which was also the result of adverse weather conditions in the Northeast.

The percentage of available seats filled on incoming and outgoing flights also rose to 88 percent, up from 87 percent in February 2017.

Big draws for the area last month included Speedweeks events at Daytona International Speedway, which reported that it sold out its grandstand seats for the third year in a row for the Daytona 500.

Jay Cassens, the airport’s director of business development, said he expects passenger traffic to be up in March as well, noting that the airport’s restaurant operator is reporting an increase in daily revenues. “March is our busiest month of the year,” he said, noting that the area draws visitors both for Bike Week as well as spring break.

“Delta (Air Lines) added an additional daily flight,” he said, noting another positive sign regarding the March passenger traffic numbers. “Looking around the terminal, I get a sense that we’re very, very busy.”

The airport in 2017 saw passenger traffic rise to the highest level since 1997.

Those improved numbers are seen as crucial to the airport’s efforts to try to convince airlines to add more service here, including potentially routes to new destinations.

“It’s not just about the passenger traffic numbers, it’s also about how full the flights are and how much revenue they (the airlines) can get from passengers once they are on the flight,” Cassens said.

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