The return of Frontier Airlines helped propel Harrisburg International Airport to its best summer since 2014.
The Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which operates HIA, said passenger travel between June 1 and Sept. 30 of this year rose by 16 percent compared to the same period last year, with 453,795 people using the airport this summer compared with 391,552 last summer. That included more than 15,000 passengers who flew on Frontier, which announced in April that it was returning to HIA after three years away.
The airline flies from HIA to Denver and Orlando, as well as Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina.
Frontier generated about 25 percent of the summer growth at the Lower Swatara Township airport.
Of the established airlines, low-cost carrier Allegiant Air finished with the biggest increase over the summer. Allegiant Air carried 55,581 passengers, a 27 percent uptick.
American Airlines, the largest airline at HIA, saw 176,310 passengers at HIA, a 12 percent increase from last year.
United Airlines, meanwhile, closed out the summer with a nearly 23 percent jump at HIA, having flown 90,446 passengers.
Delta Air Lines was the only one of the six airlines at HIA to see a drop from last summer. Delta travel was down 1.5 percent at HIA.
Air Canada, the smallest airline at HIA, was up nearly 15 percent with 8,324 summer passengers. Air Canada recently tacked a fourth daily flight from HIA to Toronto onto its schedule.
Coming off the summer, Allegiant is planning to start daily nonstop service to Orlando Sanford in February. Airport officials said the daily service will start Feb. 13. Allegiant currently flies between Harrisburg and Orlando four to five times per week.
“The airport has pushed for daily service to the Orlando region for several years,” said Tim Edwards, the authority’s executive director. “We are confident the service will be popular and profitable for Allegiant.”
Allegiant also will increase other flights to Florida from Harrisburg. The airline is expanding to four flights a week to Punta Gorda/Ft. Myers, up from two or three, and to three times a week to St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport, up from two.
Officials also are projecting a 4 percent increase in Thanksgiving travel at HIA, with nearly 24,000 passengers flying in and out of the Harrisburg area between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.
With the additional airline traffic, HIA has seen two new hotels open, including one that is connected to the airport.