Air Transport World

Miami north: Ft. Lauderdale bet on the low-fare revolution and now reaps the benefits, capturing traffic that might have gone to nearby airports. (Airports).

Here comes the Greyhound bus," joked Jim Reynolds as he spotted the JetBlue A320 coming in for a landing on a recent sunny day at Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. It would be one of the New York-based carrier's 14 daily flights, said Reynolds, PR director at the South Florida airport. Indeed, JetBlue and low-fare carriers Southwest Airlines and AirTran have become the "buses" that have kept the airport on a steady path of growth and profitability over the past few years.

FLL has been one of the fastest-growing airports in the US since 1995, with a 73% increase in passenger traffic over the period. And despite the downward trend across the industry, it saw a 3.5% increase in 2001 and 2002. "Our numbers have always been in the black," says Director of Aviation Bill Sherry. Last year more than 17 million passengers--an average of 45,000 a day--used the airport. And 2003 is "looking very, very positive," Sherry says.

"Our forecast shows that half of all passenger growth in southeast Florida is going to Fort Lauderdale and not Miami," confirms consultant Mike Boyd. "It really is a Miami-area airport, but Miami is not going to grow." In the early 1990s, FLL typically served those within the boundaries of Broward County. That changed because it attracts airlines that offer lower fares than the nearby Miami and Palm Beach airports and draws customers from both communities. …

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