Activity at the Monett Municipal Airport saw an increased use by local businesses but a significant drop in receational flights in the final quarter of 2009. The end result was the lowest annual total for take-offs and landings in four years.
Airport employees track take-offs and landings during weekday business hours. The tally during that time frame showed 246 business-related flights, a 3 percent increase over the same period in 2008.
Flights by Jack Henry and Associates planes and the EFCO Corporation made up 169 of those flights, a 13 percent increase over a year ago. The increase represented the first rise in activity by the local companies since 2007, compared to the previous year. Even so, the current number of take-offs and landings by the local industries is half of the total for the last quarter of 2007.
Business flights from other companies not based at the Monett Airport dropped by 13 percent during the last three months of 2009. Consequently the total number of business flights increased by eight over the same quarter a year ago.
Non-business flights, which showed significant increases throughout the year, reversed that trend as 2009 ended. There were 143 take-offs and landings by private planes from Monett hangars in the last quarter of the year, a 28 percent drop from a year earlier. The decrease of 57 take-offs and landings did not offset the increase of 71 from January through May of last year.
Declines in activity continued for other pleasure flights. Planes not based in Monett flying in and out for pleasure totaled 537 for the quarter, a drop of 5 percent from a year ago. Total pleasure flights dropped 11 percent for the quarter.
The total number of business and pleasure take-offs and landings for the last quarter of 2009 during weekday business hours was 926, a drop of 8 percent from the previous year and the lowest number in four years for the quarter.
December had the smallest amount of activity at the airport of any month in 2009 and the least amount for any December in the past four years.
Airport Superintendent Howard Frazier said the cold weather that has hung around the area since the week before Christmas has made it particularly hard to start planes kept in unheated hangars, especially those with carburators. He suspected the weather played a signficant part in the reduction of flights during the past month.
For 2009, the total number of take-offs and landings during weekday business hours totaled 4,449, a drop of 52 or 3 percent from 2008. The peak number for a year, recorded in 2006, was 4,925.
The average number of take-offs and landings per month in 2009 came to 371, compared to 383 in 2008. The average number of business flights was 88 per month, compared to 111 in the previous year.
Pleasure flights in 2009 rose by 180 take-offs and landings, an increase of 6 percent from 2008. The average monthly number of pleasure flights totaled 283, up from 268 in 2008. In 2007 the average number of pleasure flights per month was 383.
Frazier said business activity has continued to gradually increase. He is seeing more planes from out-of-town firms, especially since fuel prices dropped again. He said airport activity after business hours has continued regularly, adding to the daytime tally.
"Hopefully this will be a better year," Frazier added.