The Casper/Natrona County International Airport has seen an uptick in notable metrics recently, and the director says the stats are a sign that the airport — and Wyoming’s economy — is rebounding from the energy downturn.
Last year, officials were wondering, “’Where’s the bottom?’” Glenn Januska said. “Tell us where the bottom is. If we know where the bottom is now, even if it’s not going to get better — just don’t tell me its going to get worse. ... Now, we’re starting to see an uptick.”
Rental car revenue — of which the airport receives a cut — is up, which Januska said was a good sign that business is doing better as more people travel to Casper and pick up cars for work. Parking revenue and fuel storage are also both up. More crucially, so, too, is passenger enplanement, or the number of people boarding planes.
Compared to this time last year, enplanements are up 4.4 percent. The number is significant, given that September saw a more than 4 percent decline, after Allegiant Air announced a stoppage and the airport effectively closed briefly for runway work.
As for the eclipse, Januska said the airport saw a slight bump, though he said that, like the city of Casper, it wasn’t as significant as some had perhaps thought beforehand.
Elsewhere, airport operations — or takeoffs and landings by all kinds of aircraft — jumped last month by more than 7 percent but are still down overall this year by 6 percent. Freight shipping by companies like FedEx and UPS remains down, though Januska said that’s often related to equipment in the oil and gas industry.
He said that the airport operations is a difficult number to dissect, in terms of its affect on the broader economy. It could be fewer takeoffs by people learning to fly, rather than a drop in the number of corporate jets landing. Fewer of one could mean something completely different — if it means anything at all — compared to fewer of the other.
Januska also noted that the airport has 350 lease agreements for buildings that it owns.
“Typically when things are not good, we start to see vacancies,” he said. “We have not seen that, have not gotten vacancies in our buildings. ... That’s been relatively consistent, which has been good for us. Seems like things seem to be stable.”
Overall, Januska said, the figures are good news for the airport and likely good news for Wyoming.
“What this tells me overall if I start looking at this, we’re starting to see an uptick back in passengers, rental car revenue, parking revenue,” he said. “Things are indicating that the passengers are using the airport more this year compared to last year.”