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The Springfield-Branson National Airport is considered one of the fastest growing airports in the country. But for nearly a decade the airport has struggled with local customers using outside airports to fly out from. A new study shows that this trend has decreased and more people are using SGF to catch their flights. KSMU's Emily Nash has more.
"Leakage" in airport jargon, is when local customers use out of town airports to get cheaper and more direct flights.
Kent Boyd is a spokesman for the Springfield-Branson National Airport.
"Leakage is the aviation term used to describe the number of flying customers who leave the Springfield market to fly from other airports. And they typically do this because theirs tend to be cheaper at other airports, and there are more direct destinations at other airports."
In the past, most Springfield customers have driven to Kansas City or St. Louis to catch their flights.
But for the last few years, studies show the Springfield-Branson Airport's "leakage" has dropped 18 percent.
More people in the local Springfield market are using the flights offered here.
One reason more people are flying out of Springfield, is because of a new low cost airline, Alligent.
Alligent flies directly to popular vacation sites, like Las Vegas, and Orlando, for sometimes as low as 200 dollars round trip.
Boyd says Alligent usually has a 75 percent fill up rate on its new flights.
And he says in the airline business, that's really good.
"An airline is generally happy if it has 60-65 percent of the plane filled out. So when we can fill a plane up like that, we are going pretty well."
In the last few years, the Springfield Branson airport has also increased its direct destination flights.
It's now possible to travel to Europe and South America from Springfield, with only one connection.
Boyd says the increase in local travelers using the Springfield-Branson airport makes it more attractive to other airlines.
That means more flight options for the Springfield-market.
"Airlines, to put it bluntly don't want to work any harder than they have to, to get customers on a plane. So if they know there's a market filling up an airplane, like we are, they might be more inclined to provide service here."
Boyd says the leakage study also reflects the growing diversity of the Springfield-metro's economy.
He says as the economy grows, the airport grows with it.
"The economy of the Springfield metro area is strong and that it is diverse enough that it is not really affected that much of the peaks and valleys of the economic cycle."
Boyd says the Springfield-Branson airport can survive the national economy dip, if "leakage" stays low.