While officials have their hopes set high, the Binghamton airport’s flight activity figures are still stuck in a recession-driven slump that started in 2008.
Enplanements — the count of the number of passengers boarding flights —dropped 15 percent at the airport between 2007 and 2012, according to a Press & Sun-Bulletin analysis of U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.
As a result, Binghamton’s airport lost its status as the busiest in the Southern Tier, dropping behind the Ithaca and Elmira airports in enplanements starting in 2009.
The five-year period also showed broad changes in route popularity at the Greater Binghamton Airport, with a 40 percent increase in Detroit-bound passengers and a 25 percent increase in enplanements on flights to Washington, D.C. Those gains were offset by a 33 percent drop in passengers flying to Philadelphia.
As much as I regret to admit it, the cause is less likely to be a "recession-driven slump" than an overall decline of Binghamton as a regional manufacturing center. Those industries ain't comin' back, either. While there are bright spots, including Binghamton University, Binghamton and Endicott are pale shells of what they were when IBM was still a major presence in the area.
I am surprised that BGM has dropped behind ELM and ITH in traffic, though, since it is a larger city. I believe that Allegiant's service to ELM is largely responsible. ITH has steady traffic thanks to Cornell University and Ithaca College.
I can tell you what I believe is responsible for the 33% drop in passengers BGM-PHL, though, and it's not the state of BGM's economy. News flash for you, US Airways marketing and operations departments: when you replace CRJs with DH8s, passengers like me will choose to fly via another hub with another carrier if we can. The one exception would be passengers whose final destination is PHL, which most people from BGM would generally drive rather than fly anyway.
I reject the notion that it's a question of props being more economical on short flights. US (Air Wisconsin) still operates CRJs on PHL-ABE -- a distance of only 48 nm! Say what you will, swapping a jet for a prop represents a downgrade of the status of the route in the airline's network, and passengers who have a choice will take their business elsewhere.