For the third straight year, the number of passengers flying out of Branson Airport declined in 2016.
As of the end of October, 5,149 people had boarded a plane at the airport in 2016 — a drop of 63.5% compared to the same 10-month stretch in 2015. Depending on the month, more than a quarter to almost half of airplane seats left the facility unoccupied.
The privately owned and operated Branson Airport has been challenged by the consolidation of the airline industry, which has resulted in reduced competition among airlines and decisions by the largest carriers to focus on more profitable routes.
The 2016 decline in enplanements, an industry term for boarding passengers, furthers declines Branson has experienced in recent years.
The airport opened in 2009 and peaked in 2013 at 113,584 enplanements for the year. In 2014, however, Branson’s two mainline carriers — Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines — pulled out of the market. The airport ended the year with just shy of 60,000 enplanements.
The mainline carriers have been replaced by public charter flights, offered in the hope that they will demonstrate a demand for air service from Branson. In 2015, enplanements dropped to 15,732, a year-over-year decline of 73.6%.
July was the busiest month at Branson Airport in 2016, with 1,332 enplanements, compared to 3,303 in 2015. February, March and April were the slowest — no passengers boarded a plane during those months.