Passenger numbers hit another record

While winter elements here and elsewhere conspired to disrupt flights in and out of the Rogue Valley during January, all four commercial carriers saw slight year-over-year gains as the Medford airport booked another record month.

"It was a good, solid month," Airport Director Bern Case said. "Particularly when you look at the major snow storm we had, fighting fog, and the ripple effect from bigger airports. January was tough nationwide, but we were still up."

A total of 55,806 travelers passed through the gates in January, surpassing the 2016 record of 55,327. The 0.9 percent gain marked the 28th record in the past 29 months.

Neighboring Crater Lake Regional Airport in Klamath Falls reopened commercial service last fall, and Eugene and Redding, California, airports have increased activity as well.

Case isn't expecting a repeat of 2016 that saw double-digit growth many months of the year. But a 5 to 6 percent increase is attainable with American Eagle beginning service to Phoenix Sky Harbor International in June.

"That will certainly give us a boost," he said.

Although the 17 daily departures are one less than a year ago, the use of larger regional jets has increased seat numbers 3.4 percent to 2,483 available per day.

During the run of 27 consecutive record months that ended in December, it was unusual for every carrier to have year-over-year gains. The last time it happened was in March.

"If airline is down for one or two months, that's not bad," Case said. "But if you're down consistently, that's not good."

Allegiant Airlines, which has provided seasonal service to Mesa, Arizona, southeast of Phoenix, typically ramps up when triple-digit temperatures arrive in the Valley of the Sun. The airline has stated in the past, traffic is driven by demand to escape the heat in summer, rather than for vacation travel to Arizona.

With American Eagle potentially biting into Allegiant's market share, it could have a good impact for travelers.

"There is speculation that Allegiant might operate that route year-round year, now that there's competition," Case said.

Auto rental and tax cab companies kept busy as well.

"January and February are typically the worst months of the year for them, but everybody was pretty upbeat," Case said.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him on Twitter at, on Facebook at



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