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Durango airport breaks 2023 record in first quarter of 2024

Number of enplaned passengers is up 15% compared to last year
Passenger numbers at the Durango-La Plata County Airport have beaten 2023’s first quarter by a margin of 15%. (Jerry McBride//Durango Herald file)

Hot on the heels of a record-breaking year in 2023, the Durango-La Plata County Airport reported another banner first quarter in 2024 as it prepares for the return of weekend flights to Houston, which begin May 25.

Nearly 55,000 people passed through DRO in the first three months of this year, an increase of 15% from the 47,628 people who used the airport during the same period in 2023.

Aviation Director Tony Vicari told La Plata County commissioners Tuesday that both United Airlines and American Airlines had increased the frequency with which they use larger Airbus planes for flights to and from the airport.

Currently, United operates five daily flights to Denver, and American Airlines offers three daily flights to Dallas and two daily flights to Phoenix.

United’s summer flights to Houston will operate on Saturdays and Sundays from May 25 through Aug. 18.

Houston is the fourth-largest origin destination, Vicari said, and the largest point of origin that is not served by year-round daily service.

“Ideally, we’d like to move it to a long-term year-round daily service route,” he said.

If the route performs well this summer, the airport will be in a strong position to have conversations with United around potentially expanding the season next year.

“It’s a lot of additional seat capacity and investment from an airline, but we’re hopeful that we see good performance and demand again on the Houston route this summer,” Vicari told The Durango Herald when the route was announced in January.

As the first phase of DRO’s terminal expansion wraps up, Vicari told commissioners that the airport was in a strong position financially heading into the beginning of Phase 1B construction, which is expected to begin later this summer or in early fall.

The project will involve a renovation to the baggage claim area, add a new TSA screening area and add four American Airlines gates with seating areas.

With $11.4 million in the airport’s unrestricted enterprise fund, the airport has over two years of operating expenses on hand. That is intentional, Vicari said, heading into the $28 million Phase 1B. He expects that sum to be drawn down “modestly,” although much of the construction will be grant funded.

“The passenger numbers show just how much this is needed,” Commissioner Marsha Porter-Norton said following Vicari’s presentation.


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