Report: Air traffic lags as industry transforms
While the average of air passenger departures out of U.S. mainland airports has gradually risen in the past 12‐months, the same activity out of Puerto Rico airports has zigzagged, according to Banco Popular’s “Progreso Económico” report released Thursday.
The U.S. air travel industry contracted during the 2008‐09 recession, as consumers postponed travel plans and air traffic buckled to the pressure from terrorism effects and high energy prices, U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics confirm.
And although air traffic has begun to recover in the United States, departures out of Puerto Rico airports have been slower to recover, as industrial changes in Puerto Rico from traditional airlines to low‐cost or discount airlines plays out.
Air passenger traffic on traditional airline carriers through Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport fell significantly during the recent U.S. recession and has continued to decline through January 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics data Popular cited in its report confirmed.
“Reductions in passenger volume of traditional carriers have been partially offset by increases in low‐cost air carriers, led by JetBlue,” there report showed. “The 12‐month moving average of JetBlue air passenger departures out of LMM airport has risen sharply since the company began operations in Puerto Rico in 2002.”
In the past decade, JetBlue has become the leading air passenger carrier out of LMM, establishing its hub at the airport’s recently opened Terminal A. The carrier set up shop there in May, where it is expected to continue expanding its operations with additional flights and destinations.
Meanwhile, the report also analyzed guest traffic at local hotels and small inns (“paradores”) throughout the island, finding that stays have increased since 2010 and “are on pace for a record year in 2012, boosted by improving U.S. economic conditions.”