Traffic growth at Stillwater airport continues

Published: Wednesday, August 8, 2018 By: Mike Coppock Source: The Journal Record

On July 30, Cindy Martin walked into the Stillwater Regional Airport to board her American Airlines flight to Dallas. Martin was stunned when airport officials gave her a bag filled with gifts amounting to $1,300. She was the 100,000th passenger to go through the small terminal.

Other passengers on her flight received 100 Grand candy bars.

Stillwater municipal officials said airline service to the community of 49,000 is 17 days shy of being 2 years old.

“I don’t think we were surprised by the numbers,” said American Airlines Stillwater General Manager Karen Strawder, who has worked at the facility since its opening. “But it happened a little faster than we expected.”

Assistant Airport Manager Paul Priegel said Stillwater’s airport draws passengers from as far away as Edmond up to the Kansas border and east to the outskirts of Tulsa who find the small airport with its free parking and close location more convenient than driving to Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport.

“We have a lot of local people who fly out of here,” said Priegel, who is scheduled to become the airport’s manager at the end of September. “OSU traffic through here is in the minority when it comes to numbers.”

American Airlines has two daily flights out of Stillwater. A third flight arrives at 11:30 p.m. and lays overnight on Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings. It was added as a trial over the summer, but has been running nearly full, as have the two daily flights. American Airlines has extended the third flight into the fall due to the strong head count. The scheduled aircrafts seat from 44 to 50 passengers.

“We hit an absolute home run in landing American here,” said Priegel. “Right now though we’re just trying to grow. One of our challenges here is that we’re space-challenged.”

Priegel gave a lot of credit for the airport’s success to current airport director Gary Johnson, who is set to retire on Sept. 28 after 32 years at the facility. Priegel said Johnson pushed for airport improvements and upgrades during his tenure.

Priegel hopes the airport terminal and its facilities will be expanded in three to five years, if the strong passenger numbers continue. City officials said an expansion to the terminal is in the planning stages.

“We are in the beginning phase of updating our master plan, which will include a design for an expanded terminal and parking areas as well as lay out the airport’s growth over the next 10 to 20 years,” Meagan Kascsak, Stillwater communications coordinator, said a written statement.

The three flights are all American Airlines plans to schedule for now.

“We do not currently have any plans for additional service in Stillwater,” said American’s media spokesperson, Nichelle Tait. “But, as always, we will continue to assess what makes sense for our customer and our network.

The city of Stillwater will hold a 100,000th Passenger Celebration at the airport terminal on Aug. 24 at 10:30 a.m.

Read the story at JournalRecord.com

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