HARLINGEN — The booming passenger numbers at Valley International Airport last year appear to be continuing this year.
Last year the airport posted a 12.5 percent increase in passenger enplanements.
Already as of January, the numbers show a 19.4 percent increase over the previous year.
“All of our incoming carriers are doing very well in the mix,” Marv Esterly, director of aviation, told the airport board this past week. “Southwest was up 1.6 percent, United Airlines was up 26.6 percent over last January. Frontier is doing well, particularly as a startup — everything I hear from them is all positive.
“Sun Country is up 55 percent over last year,” he added of the Minneapolis-based carrier. “I think it’s a perfect storm — we’ve got the planes, we’ve got the flights and they got the cold weather. It’s perfect for us.”
Esterly was referring to the addition of Frontier Airlines flights to the airport’s passenger carrier mix, which now includes Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Sun Country Airlines and Frontier.
American Airlines will begin flights in March.
“Also Delta was up 9.2 percent and our charters were up 4.3 percent, so we were nearly up 20 percent over last year,” Esterly added. “That number equates to the fiscal year so far of (an increase of) 9.8 percent.
“These are huge numbers and very welcome,” he added.
Esterly told the board the airport’s cargo numbers also were up sharply for January, a 15.7 percent increase over the previous January.
FedEx alone was up 34.9 percent he said, attributing part of that increase to the freight carrier increasingly flying avocadoes out of Mexico.