Things are still taking off at the Boise Airport.
In 2022, Idaho’s largest airport broke another record with passenger counts coming in 9% above 2019’s previous record-breaking total. Everything else is up too, including the size of the flights, revenues from passengers, parking fees, car rental and concessions. This continues to set Boise up to grow as a flight destination, even as construction continues to disrupt parking while the airport expands its facilities to support a new concourse.
Airport Director Rebecca Hupp said the growth is a continuation of the rapid growth the airport saw before COVID-19 hit and the exponential, quicker-than-anticipated recovery after the economy slowed in early 2020. She said it backs up the airport’s choice to heavily invest in a capital campaign to grow its facilities in recent years. The extra revenue won’t speed up the project, but it will continue to grow the airport’s resources to get it done.
“It confirms what we were working on previously and we’re optimistic about the future and increasing passenger travel which will lead to increased revenues and make the projects even more viable,” Hupp said.
This comes as Boise is in the midst of upgrading its security area and reshuffling the airport campus to make way for more parking garages, including a new employee parking garage, an expanded car rental facility and more stalls for the public. The moves will eventually allow the Boise Airport to build a new concourse, adding more gates and, presumably, more designation and flight time options.
By the numbers
It’s not just more people flying in and out of Boise.
Bigger airplanes are coming in and out of the Treasure Valley to accommodate demand, giving Boiseans 28% more seats available in December of this year over the same time last year. This is at the same time as the number of flights increased only by 7%, showing the increase in airplane sizes.
More revenue coming into the airport from fees passengers pay per, parking fees, car rental revenue and concessions added $21.3 million to the airport’s revenue over what staff budgeted for 2022. The airport also got another $20 million in federal grants related to pandemic relief legislation.
“We always try to be conservative in our estimates and we’d rather underestimate on revenues and over budget on expenses so we always know that we’re going to have a good financial year and that we’re fiscally sustainable,” Hupp said. “That’s always been our approach to budgeting.”
What about those canceled flights?
Despite the growth, the Boise Airport has seen some abrupt service stops and starts.
Since the pandemic began, Boise has had several new announcements of designations and airlines, only for them to be called off later. This includes a nonstop flight from Boise to New York City from Jet Blue, an Alaskan Airlines flight directly to Idaho Falls and nonstop service to Austin.
Hupp said this reflects more on the ups and downs of the airline industry, rather than Boise itself. She said while the airlines were trying to entice travelers to come back while the virus took the country by storm the airline companies were willing to try new and creative routes. But, once the demand shot back up and staffing levels were low they had to cut these new offerings nationwide.
“Now we are seeing tremendous demand for flights and passenger travel nationwide and airlines during the pandemic offered early retirement to a number of its skilled workforce including pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and now that we’re back to full capacity they have not been able to replace those that retired as quickly as they needed to accommodate this rebound,” she’s said. “There’s definitely a shortage of aviation crews and I think that’s created definitely a shortage of their ability to operate the flight schedules they would like to operate.”