ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Travel at the Albuquerque International Sunport is taking off. For the first time in years, new numbers show more and more people are traveling to and from Albuquerque.
Since 2008, there’s been a decline in airline passengers at the Sunport, but the last few months show things are looking up. It’s something the city hopes will continue in 2016.
“It’s just one more of the indicators for our city that not only are we coming out of the recession, but we’re on our way back to pre-recession numbers,” explained Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry.
In fiscal year 2008, 6.8 million people flew in and out of Albuquerque. Since then, there’s been a dramatic decline.
Federal agencies made travel cuts, which affected numbers at the Sunport. Then, the Wright Amendment expired, which for decades forced many flights from Dallas Love Field to stop in Albuquerque. “That took the numbers down somewhat as well,” said Mayor Berry.
Finally in October 2015, the number of Sunport passengers went up 2.4-percent compared to the same time a year before. In November, ridership was up again.
Mayor Berry said this means good things for the economy. “This is a great place, and an added benefit of that is we’re an affordable place,” Berry told KRQE News 13.
In fact, national media outlets named New Mexico a top vacation spot to get the best ‘Bang for your Buck,’ pointing out skiers pay a third of the price for a lift ticket they’d otherwise pay in places like Colorado.
Before winter hit New Mexico, the Sunport ran promos in places like Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, Portland and New York, touting the state’s 310 days of sunshine to lure more travelers to Albuquerque.
The city successfully used incentives to attract JetBlue and Alaska Airlines. But Mayor Berry admits, there’s still room to improve.
“All of this is part of the branding of our city to make sure people know that when they’ve landed, they’re in some place special, they’re in some place that’s unique, not just like any other town,” said Mayor Berry.
This spring, parts of the Sunport will get a makeover. The $16.6 million project will include upgrades to the ticket counter, baggage claim, arrivals and departure areas. That construction is expected to take a year-and-a-half.
Mayor Berry said the city is also working to bring in more airline carriers to the Sunport.