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GSP reports an increase in passenger activity

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the April 1 issue of GSA Business Report.

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport continued to add passengers at a record pace in January and extended its streak to 16 consecutive months of passenger growth by having 16.8% more passengers in January (180,437) compared to January 2018 (154,489), according to a news release.

“That’s quite a jump and the largest increase since Southwest Airlines started service in March 2011,” Dave Edwards, GSP president and CEO, said in the release. “That type of growth is the direct result of our airline partners adding new nonstop destinations, flying larger aircraft and more people choosing GSP.”

To help meet the region’s increased demand for air service, American Airlines added 21.6% more seats in January. Delta Air Lines increased its seats by 18.5% and United Airlines added 18.3% more seats, the release said.

Also, Frontier began offering twice-weekly nonstop flights to both Denver and Tampa and American began offering its twice-daily nonstop service to Miami.

Cargo activity at the airport experienced a slight increase by being up 0.6% compared to the same period last year.

For 2018, GSP set a new record with 8.8% more passengers (2.31 million) when compared to 2017 (2.13 million), according to the release. The airport’s cargo numbers for 2018 (118 million pounds) were more than 20% higher than 2017 (98.7 million pounds). GSP expects continued growth in air freight to and from the Upstate because of a $30 million air cargo facility that is under construction, the release said. GSP will open new cargo facilities this year, including a 110,000-square-foot warehouse and a 13-acre cargo ramp to accommodate up to three Boeing 747-800 aircraft simultaneously.

The International Airport Logistics Park includes more than 200 acres of property that has been developed into commercial space, mostly for business that moves by truck, not air, but has a relationship to both airport operations and the automotive manufacturing industry.

“With land development, we were cautious and methodical the way we moved through it and wanted to make sure we were doing it for the right reasons,” Edwards told GSA Business Report in December. “Now look at what it’s generating. It’s why we need to continue to do land development in a thoughtful way — not necessarily for us but it does have a large and positive economic impact on the community which reminds us why we’re here: to create good jobs that hopefully pay well and give some people some security. It’s being a good steward of airport property and being a good corporate citizen.”

GSP had an economic impact on the Upstate of $2.9 billion for 2017, compared to $377 million in 2009, according to a study by Syneva Economics, based in Asheville, N.C. The study tracked airport district operations, air cargo, fixed-base operator services, commercial development and visiting airline passengers, according to information in the report.

The total activities of the airport support 14,817 local jobs, according to the study, 8,658 of them directly, such as airline employees and TSA agents. The study also concluded that the jobs multiplier effect of visiting GSP passengers is 1.4 while cargo operations have a multiplier effect of 2.8 and commercial development enterprises have a multiplier of 3.3. The dollar multipliers for the same three categories are $1.60, $1.30 and $1.30 respectively.

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