With a new name and a new terminal, Wichita’s airport closed out last year with a yearly gain in passengers.
Wichita Eisenhower National Airport saw a nearly 2.5 percent increase in passengers, the Wichita Airport Authority reported Monday.
The authority, in its Aviation Activity Report, said approximately 1.57 million passengers flew to and from Eisenhower in 2015, an increase of 37,679 passengers from 2014’s total of 1.53 million passengers.
Last year also was the airport’s third-busiest year on record, surpassed only by 1.59 million passengers in 2007 and 1.61 million passengers in 2008, the authority said in a news release.
Despite the annual passenger gain, the final month of 2015 saw a decrease compared with the same month a year earlier. The report showed 129,369 passengers using the airport in December 2015, a 2.11 percent decrease from 132,156 passengers in 2014.
Airport officials said the decrease in passengers was the result of poor weather that caused 39 cancellations in December. There also were 6 percent fewer seats available in December 2015 compared with December 2014.
Valerie Wise, the authority’s air service and business development manager, said the gain in 2015 passenger growth came despite a reduction in capacity in flights to and from Eisenhower. She said Monday that passenger capacity at Eisenhower in 2015 was down 4 percent from 2014, or 36,763 fewer seats.
Wise said she thinks the increase was largely due to the June 3 opening of the $160 million terminal.
“I have nothing else to attribute but to the new terminal, because capacity was down,” she said. “I believe it has a lot to do with the new terminal, conveniences and amenities.”
In addition to the opening of the new terminal – and a $40 million parking garage the week before – officials changed the name to Eisenhower from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport last year. That change occurred in January 2015.