Iowa’s largest airport continues to buck a nationwide trends of flat or declining air travel. Des Moines International Airport spokesman Michael Audino says traffic has been up for ten straight months.He says for February, passenger traffic was up almost nine percent, compared to a national decline of almost four percent. He says the first three months have seen an 11 percent increase in traffic in Des Moines compared to a one percent increase nationwide. Audino says a drop in prices is the biggest reason for the strong traffic in Des Moines. He says data from the U-S Department of Transportation shows the price difference between round-trip travel between Des Moines and Omaha, and Des Moines and Kansas City, is the lowest it has been in a decade. Audino says that keeps more people from driving out of state to get better air fares. He says those lower fares are due to the post 9-11 problems with the airlines, and the soft economy. He says the airlines have cut prices to try and generate more business, and he says they have more room to cut prices in Des Moines than they do in Omaha or Kansas City. Des Moines’ passenger traffic could increase even more with the announcement Wednesday that Allegiant Air plans daily non-stop flights from Des Moines to Las Vegas. He says the number one request he’s heard in the five years he’s been at the airport is for non-stop service to Las Vegas. Audino says the Allegiant Air service should help fill those requests. Audino says international travel out of Des Moines is down due to concerns over the war and the outbreak of “SARS.” He says he doesn’t have exact numbers on Des Moines, but says industry information shows international travel is down 40 percent.
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