MASON CITY — The number of people flying out of the Mason City Municipal Airport was up 40 percent in the first three months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010. Above: Pam Osgood, manager of the Mason City Muncipal Airport. Story by Joe Buttweiler.|MASON CITY — The number of people flying out of the Mason City Municipal Airport was up 40 percent in the first three months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.
There were 1,199 enplanements in January, up from 738 in January of 2010; 1,009 in February of this year, up from 835 last year; and 1,187 in March of 2011, up from 841 in 2010. The 2011 three-month total of 3,395 compares with 2,414 in 2010, an increase of 40.54 percent, according to airport statistics.
And April’s total, which is traditionally low, was ahead of last year also, with 895 boarding planes in Mason City compared to 743 in 2010.
The 3,395 is the highest first-quarter total since 2005, which coincidentally also had 3,395 boardings, and is tied for the fifth highest quarterly total since 2005. The highest was 4,011 in the third quarter of 2010; followed by 3,836 in the second quarter of 2005; 3,732 in the fourth quarter of 2010; and 3,451 in the third quarter of 2005.
If the current pace continues, a total of 12,870 people will have boarded planes at the Mason City airport this year, marking the third-highest total since 2005. There were 13,337 boardings that year and 13,046 in 2010, according to airport statistics. The third and fourth quarters of 2010 were very strong, with 4,011 and 3,732 boardings, respectively.
“We really had a great 2010. I don’t know if we’ll be able to repeat that,” said Airport Manager Pam Osgood.
An aggressive marketing campaign highlighting the free parking, relative ease of clearing security, and competitive airfares have helped draw more travelers, she said.
When you consider the time and dollar cost of traveling to Minneapolis and paying for parking, it’s often more than the difference in airfare, Osgood said.
“I think convenience is a lot of it. Once they get off the plane they’re home. They don’t have to drive two hours,” she said. And since there are fewer travelers using the Mason City airport, there aren’t huge lines to wait in for security and baggage checks.
“I just think we’re very customer oriented here. We try to treat the passengers the best we can,” said Osgood.
Special care is given to elderly travelers, she said. “Some might disagree, but I think overall people are very pleased with the staff here.”
Osgood, who has been with the airport 21 years, said she doubts that enplanement numbers will get back to the 17,000-a-year range seen in the 1990s, but does hope to see continued growth as more people appreciate the convenience of flying out of Mason City.|