New routes help Sacramento International set record with 1.1 million passengers in July

A record-high number of passengers made last month the busiest in Sacramento International Airport’s history.

The airport recorded 1.1 million passengers during July, a month apt for vacations, and it expects to serve an estimated 1 million passengers each month for the rest of the year.

The airport’s previous busiest month on record was before the recession, on July 2007, which saw just above 1 million passengers.

According to a news release from Sacramento County, the airport estimates it will serve over 12 million passengers in total this year, “another record-breaking milestone.”

How did the airport accommodate the high volume of passengers? “Nothing special,” said Laurie Slothower, a spokesperson for the Sacramento County Department of Airports. “Just lots of coordination with the airlines and the TSA.”

The airport is equipped to handle up to 16 million passengers in a calendar year. Slothower said the TSA was aware of “passenger demand growth and planned accordingly.”

“Passenger traffic at Sacramento International Airport has shown a robust increase of 11.8 percent in July 2018 over the same time period in July 2017,” the news release says.

Slothower attributes the increase to a combination of factors.

“We’ve added new routes and destinations (and) added new carriers to popular destinations — Denver, Las Vegas, San Diego,” she said. “Sacramento passenger response to these routes has been robust. In fact, passenger demand increases during July outpaced seat capacity by 5.5 percentage points, leading to (a) higher ... percentage of seats filled per flight.”

Southwest Airlines also introduced nonstop services to Austin, St. Louis, Orlando, New Orleans and Cabo San Lucas. Frontier Airlines returned with service to Las Vegas and Denver, and Air Canada returned with nonstop service to Vancouver.

“Southwest has told us the passenger loads for the Austin and St. Louis routes are outstanding,” Slothower said. And Frontier, described as “an ultra-low cost carrier,” is popular among “budget-minded travelers.”

This July, the airport offered 159 flights to 37 destinations, compared to the 151 flights to 30 destinations offered last July. Slothower also said the airport is considering adding flights in November once Southwest begins a nonstop service to Houston, and Volaris offers nonstop flights to Leon, Mexico.

And Sacramento area residents will soon have more options to get to Hawaii, with nonstop flights to Kona through Alaska Airlines beginning in December and nonstop flights to Maui through Hawaiian Airlines beginning next April.