KCI reports first increase in passenger traffic in 13 months

Passenger traffic at Kansas City International Airport increased slightly in May, the first positive month since April 2012, the city Aviation Department reported Thursday.

The number of travelers arriving and departing at KCI in May totaled 888,258, up 0.9 percent from May 2012. Passenger boardings at the airport also increased in May by 0.9 percent, according to the department’s monthly data.

While most of the carriers serving KCI reported relatively flat boarding numbers in May, Southwest Airlines was an exception. The carrier, which provides the most daily flights at KCI, increased passenger boardings by 20,000 in May from the same month in 2012. This spring Southwest started new KCI service to Boston.

For the first five months of 2013, boardings at the airport totaled 1.9 millon, down nearly 7 percent from the same period last year.

Passenger traffic at KCI and at many similar-sized airports around the country has suffered for several years because of the economy and the ongoing consolidation in the airline industry. Kansas City was particularly hurt by Frontier Airlines’ service cuts last year.

Tom McKenna, the aviation department’s director of marketing, said he’s expecting a “slow recovery and increase in passenger traffic” at KCI through the summer.