Augusta Regional Airport. (November 17, 2010 / WRDW-TV)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's been about a month since the direct flight from Augusta to Washington, D.C., took off from Augusta Regional, and the numbers are in.
The average flight in July was 63 percent full.
"When you get a new service out there, sometimes it's a little slow to take off," said Diane Johnston, spokeswoman for Augusta Regional Airport.
That average only spans the first 15 direct flights, but the airport says all its other flights are averaging 95 percent load capacity, or are 95 percent full.
"We've still got a lot of traffic going through here. We've still got a lot of demand and not quite enough seats to accommodate the demand," Johnston told News 12.
She says 95 percent full is pretty good, considering many airlines are consolidating. With those consolidations comes fewer seats.
"A lot of them are looking to retire their 50-seat airplanes, so it's a challenge for smaller markets," Johnston said.
That challenge, she said, gets passed along to the passenger.
"Fares are going up because of [consolidations] and that's across the board. It's not going to be quite as easy for folks to get flights," she said.
However, Johnston says Augusta Regional is handling airline consolidations better than most other airports around its size.
"Savannah and Columbia have seen huge reductions in plane passengers. We've seen almost 100 percent increase over the last five years, so we've seen tremendous growth," she said.
What that means is while airlines get rid of their smaller airplanes, most of which are used by smaller airports, airlines are giving Augusta Regional larger ones. Johnston told News 12 some airlines have upgraded 50-seaters to 70-seaters or 125-seaters. She attributes that to the growth of passengers at Augusta Regional.
"We've been so tight on seats, and to see the community still come out and support us says a lot about the Augusta market," she said.
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