AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - It may be a new year, but Rick Husband Airport in Amarillo is happy to reflect on the positives of 2018.
"We had almost 725,000 people going through the airport either getting on a plane or off a plane in 2018, so that was about a 5.5-percent increase over 2017, so we think we did pretty good there,” said Michael Conner, Director of Aviation at Rick Husband Airport.
The airport also saw an increase of just under 10 percent in landings from 2017, as well as a 6-percent increase in passengers flying into Amarillo.
"Part of the increase was obviously the addition of Austin and Phoenix to the Amarillo market and the rest of it is just marketing and branding of the airport,” said Conner. "With all the marketing we've been doing this last year, the name of the airport's out there, more people are paying attention to what's going on."
Amarillo's Convention and Visitor Council says a lot of the visitors flying in tend to come for business as the city continues to grow, from the medical district to downtown and the baseball stadium.
"Amarillo is attracting a lot of people for a lot of reasons. We've got a high level of business people that are flying in. Most of our tourism traffic is actually by car,” said Dan Quandt, Vice President at Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council. “Almost 80 percent of our visitors come by car so most of what you see on airlines is corporate."
Quandt says flights between Amarillo and Southern California also have the potential to do well.
"Gosh, if we could ever get a direct flight into Los Angeles, obviously that's going to work well with us,” said Quandt. "When we review all of our research just on who is visiting our website, not a surprise that Texas is far and away number one."
"California is always number two,” Quandt continued.
As for Conner, he hopes more people will catch flights out of Rick Husband Airport in the new year.
"We're hoping the public can fly a little more in 2019 and help us out,” said Conner.
As of now, Rick Husband Airport doesn’t see any new destinations on the map for 2019, but is not counting out the near future and may even consider East Coast flights.