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Phoenix Sky Harbor sees largest passenger drop in 8 years

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PHOENIX — The number of passengers who passed through Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in 2016 was down 1.6 percent when compared to 2015, marking the largest drop in eight years.

According to the Phoenix Business Journal, 43,383,528 people passed through the airport in 2016.

In 2015, that number was 44,003,850.

The dip in numbers is likely attributable to several factors, most notably the fact that the Super Bowl was played in the Phoenix area in 2015. No major championships were hosted in the Valley in 2016.

The Journal also attributed the drop to a merger between US Airways and American Airlines. The publication said that, while American added flights in 2016, most were to smaller airports. American reported a 9.3 percent drop in the number of passengers that passed through Sky Harbor last year.

As a result of the merger, some of Phoenix’s American Airlines airport workforce was moved out of town — including pilots and a flight training center.

But the drop is hardly doom and gloom for the state’s largest airport. The more than 44 million passengers Sky Harbor served in 2015 was an all-time record for the facility, while March 2016 was the busiest March in the airport’s history.

The Journal also said some smaller and budget airlines — such as Frontier, Boutique and Volaris — saw upticks in the number of passengers they served in 2016.

The airport should also benefit from two major national collegiate sports events: The National College Football Playoff Game was played at University of Phoenix Stadium in January and that same stadium will welcome the NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament in March.


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