Passenger traffic at KCI continues to slump

Kansas City International Airport continued to lose passenger traffic in March, but airport officials still expect a rebound to occur as the economy strengthens later this year.

The number of passengers arriving and departing at KCI fell 7.8 percent in March to 810,006 from the same month in 2012, the Kansas City Aviation Department said in its latest monthly report.

About half of that total represented passenger boardings, which were also down 10.2 percent for the month. For the first quarter of 2013, the number of passengers boarding planes at KCI was off 10.8, the department said.

KCI, like many airports, has experienced traffic monthly declines for some time now as the weak economy resulted in fewer business and vacation travelers. In response, most airlines cut back flights and flew smaller planes.

Service in Kansas City also has slowed over the past year because of sharp cutbacks by Frontier. In March 2012, Frontier controlled about 14 percent of KCI’s air travel market , but its market share now stands at 4 percent, according to aviation department data.

Southwest remains the dominant carrier serving KCI, with more than 46 percent of the market in March. Delta is second with 17.5 percent of the market, followed by United, US Airways and American.

Despite the struggles through the first three months of 2013, new service mainly from Southwest and an improving economy should help boost travel. “Passenger traffic is expected to slowly improve through the second half of the year,” said Tom McKenna, the aviation department’s assistant director of aviation-marketing.