Fewer flying from Montgomery Regional

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Fewer people are flying.  That's the word from officials at the Montgomery Regional Airport.

They say the number of airline passengers traveling by way of Montgomery's airport has declined in the last 12 years.

Despite efforts to keep them coming, they believe there are a few reasons to explain the decrease.

Executive Director Phil Perry has no doubt he and others have done their part to help the airport's appeal.

"It was important that the airport provide that positive image for the city of Montgomery."

In 2000 city officials approached Perry and asked him to renovate the building to help attract big industries like Hyundai.

With the help of $37-million dollars in federal and local funds, a new gate, rotunda, coffee shop, and terminal have been added.

"I think we accomplished those things the city and the chamber asked us to do," says Perry.

He thinks the renovations have enticed people to use the airport; however, believes since then, factors like 9/11, the recession, airline bankruptcies and fewer business travelers have resulted in a drop of nearly 100,000 passengers in that 12 year span.

"All those things contribute to whether people drive or they fly," he says.

When it comes to attracting people to Montgomery Regional, directors say they needed more than just an improved look to get passengers there.  They launched an advertising campaign and got back to basics.

"A campaign of being nice and congenial with customers, ya know, give them a smile," says Marketing Director, Lynn Cox.

With a focus on customer service and convenience, Cox created the iFlyMontgomery campaign.

"We really don't know what would have happened had there not been any marketing or advertising in place," she says.

Cox is convinced it kept people coming back during slow times and believes airport satisfaction is up, even though passengers aren't.

"For just a little more usually than driving to Atlanta, you can fly in and out of Montgomery and it's a lot easier," says one Montgomery resident.

"If you have to have an airport, this is the type of airport you want to fly in and out of," says a Dallas resident.

Airport directors expect the amount of passengers to increase when the economy gets better.

They admit, though, as airline companies cut their flights, fewer people will visit the airport.

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