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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of January 14 - 20, 2004


Friedman commercial flight number increase

Private aviation slower to rebound

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 current trends.

"Basically, there has been an increase in commercial air carrier business and a decrease in general aviation traffic," Baird said.

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."



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