Friedman commercial flight number
Private aviation slower to rebound
By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer
Despite a 15 percent slip from 2002 to
2003 in the overall number of flight operations at Friedman Memorial Airport in
Hailey, there was a significant 24 percent jump in air carrier traffic,
according to an analysis requested by the Airport Authority in November.
The airport governing body requested the
study to better understand the changing dynamic of air traffic through Hailey in
light of a slow U.S. economy, the war in Iraq and lingering impacts of the
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The results of the analysis reported
Tuesday, Jan. 6, to the Airport Authority show that general aviation activity,
meaning private aircraft traffic, dropped 37 percent from 32,500 flights in 2002
to 24,000 flights in 2003.
However, the airport has not seen
significant changes in airport revenues, said Rick Baird, airport manager.
The details and comparisons to other
resort town airports in the West show that the Hailey airport conforms to
"Basically, there has been an increase in
commercial air carrier business and a decrease in general aviation traffic,"
The increasing air carrier traffic here
includes the new Horizon Airlines flights between Hailey and the West Coast.
Although the number of passengers on Sky
West flights is up only slightly higher than last year, there is an overall
trend toward an increase in larger aircraft coming into the airport.
People who once arrived in private planes
are now flying to Hailey on small charter flights, with fewer than 50
passengers, Baird said. "Someone who may have made three flights to the airport
to get his people in is now (chartering) a plane for one flight."
There is also an increase in fractional
ownership of aircraft, Baird said. More people are sharing the cost of owning
and using a private plane.
"It is a reflection of the economy, 9/11
and post war jitters," Baird said. "As the economy starts to improve, I think
the FAA on a nation-wide basis is predicting that we’ve reached the bottom, and
we are moving back up. As the economy improves so will takeoffs and landings."