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Airport numbers reflect upswing

Thursday, June 7, 2012

An upswing in business activity has prompted a record number of flights in and out of the Monett Municipal Airport for the first five months of 2012.

Take-offs and landings are tallied for business hours during the weekday. Evening and weekend flights are uncounted and may represent a similar additional tally.

The number of business related flights rose by 63 percent over last year. The total of 1,125 flights surpassed the old record set in 2005 by 27 percent.

Flights by planes owned by Jack Henry and Associates and by EFCO Corporation, a Pella company, rose to 443, up 25 percent from a year ago. It was the highest number for the period since 2008, before the economic downturn.

The biggest jump in numbers came in business flights not based in Monett. A total of 682 flights represented double the number from a year ago.

Airport Superintendent Howard Frazier said in addition to strong activity by corporations, flight schools in Aurora and Joplin have been using the Monett airport runway for practice. Crop dusting planes have also been active this spring, working local fields and refueling in Monett.

Non-business activity reflected a slight decline. Hangar-based flights totaled 424, more than were recorded for the same period in any year prior to 2010. The number was down 8 percent from a year ago.

"We have a private jet and a twin engine plane kept at the city hangar that are usually going quite a bit," said Frazier. "Both have been down for maintenance, one for the past month. That will affect our numbers."

Other unidentified flights generally classified as pleasure flights totaled 912 for the first five months of the year. It was the lowest total in four years, down 30 flights or 3 percent from a year ago. The total was still higher than for any year prior to 2009.

"Fuel prices went up earlier this year and cut down on a lot of pleasure flights," Frazier said. "That change is reflected in airports all around the country. We had to buy some gas when prices were up. Now jet fuel prices have dropped. I'm hoping to get in on that when buying the next supply."

Total flights by planes kept in rented city hangars and other classified pleasure flights totaled 1,336 for the period, down 5 percent from a year ago and down 18 percent from the record set in 2010.

The total number of flights for business and pleasure for the first five months of 2012 was 2,461, up 17 percent from a year ago and up 11 percent from the record set in 2010.

"We're fortunate to have a lot of corporate activity here to make up for the drop-off in pleasure flights," Frazier said. "That means they're doing decently."

A new record for airport activity could be set for the year if the pace from the start of 2012 continues. Frazier said his staff has been keeping up.

"It gets kind of hectic sometimes, especially this time of year with people scheduling vacations and keeping the airport open seven days a week," Frazier said. "I get to worrying when it's too slow. I like to see

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