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  • 23 Aug 2014

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Airport reports near-record service

In another sign of the recovering economy, 14.4 million passengers flew out of Portland International Airport in 2012, nearing the record 14.6 passengers in 2007, the year before the start of the Great Recession.

Airport officials predict travel will continue increasing to 14.7 million passengers this year.

According to airport officials, the growth in travelers was boosted by a new airline and additional routes that started operation last year.

Air cargo volumes also continued growing with more than 219,000 tons of freight and mail shipped through PDX in 2012. Two percent growth is predicted for air cargo this year.

The 5.2 percent increase in annual passengers was spurred in part newcomer Virgin America, which launched service to both Los Angeles and San Francisco in June. Airport officials say Virgin is known for its inventive design and amenities such as cabin moodlighting, personal touch-screen entertainment at every seat and Wi-Fi on every flight.

In addition, Alaska Airlines began service to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport service began in August, highlighting new nonstop routes for travelers. The route was PDX’s highest domestic air service priority and came about through the combined efforts of Alaska, elected officials, business leaders, travelers and the Port of Portland.

Alaska also inaugurated several other daily or seasonal nonstop routes including Long Beach, Santa Barbara, Pasco, Bellingham, Bozeman and Kauai.

Other airlines expanding service included Spirit Airlines, which added nonstop service to Dallas/Fort Worth in June, and to San Diego in November. Southwest Airlines also began seasonal nonstop service to Austin, and Frontier Airlines inaugurated seasonal nonstop service to Colorado Springs. And SeaPort Airlines moved to its new location in the main terminal building at PDX.

The 2.3 percent growth in air shipments was influenced by Asiana Cargo’s expanded nonstop service connecting PDX with Korea and beyond, filling a strategic need for regional businesses and shippers. Asiana increased summer flights to accommodate peak shipping season cargo, such as perishable agricultural products bound for Asia. The all-cargo service aboard a Boeing 747 freighter offers connecting air cargo service throughout Asia, including destinations like Osaka, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Penang, officials say.

With record passenger volumes expected this year, officials are urging travelers to arrive early at the terminal. For flights departing before 8 a.m., or flights departing between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., travelers should arrive at the airport two hours early to allow enough time to get to their flights on time. This is the estimated time it takes during busy travel periods to park, ride a shuttle bus to the terminal, check a bag at the ticket counter, and go through security to make the flight on time.

Travelers on international flights, or with children, or with disabilities or medical conditions that could impact travel, should arrive an additional 30 minutes before their flights. Those who are not traveling during peak travel times are advised to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before their flights.