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Durango-La Plata County Airport breaks record for traffic in 2023

431,828 passengers traveled through DRO in 2023, up from prior record set in 2021
A total of 431,828 passengers traveled through the Durango-La Plata County Airport in 2023. (Tyler Brown/Durango Herald file)

Durango-La Plata County Airport had a busy year, as it experienced record breaking traffic numbers.

According to a news release from the city, there were 431,828 passengers that traveled through DRO in 2023, an 8.7% increase over the prior record set in 2021.

“We were excited to welcome a record number of passengers in 2023,” Aviation Director Tony Vicari said in a news release. “Whether travelers were flying to see family and friends, take an important business trip, or were leaving on that long-awaited vacation, the team at DRO was proud to help get them there safely and efficiently. This record airline traffic highlights the strength of our market and the continuing demand for air service in Southwest Colorado and the Four Corners.”

Airline seat capacity was up 19% from 2022 levels, with both American Airlines and United Airlines injecting significant year-over-year seat capacity into the market.

United Airlines was the slight market share leader at DRO in 2023, carrying 51% of passengers. American Airlines carried the remaining 49% of passengers.

The percentage of seats sold finished at 79%, matching the figure from 2022, according to data from the City of Durango.

American Airlines also started offering additional flights to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. United Airlines also restored summer seasonal flights to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and the average aircraft size increased by introducing daily service on a larger Airbus A319 aircraft.

The Airbus can hold up to 126 passengers compared to the typical regional jetliner that usually carries around 76 passengers. Despite breaking traffic records, business travel in 2023 was still below pre-pandemic levels but was looking better throughout the year.

DRO reports business travel was heavily impacted in 2020 and 2021, but started recovering slightly in 2022 and kept increasing in 2023.

“This record passenger traffic comes as construction on the first phase of the terminal development program at DRO swiftly moves toward completion in 2024,” Vicari said. “Higher numbers of passengers and larger aircraft result in added demands on our terminal facilities, and we feel confident that our terminal development plans will allow our airline partners to effectively evolve and grow in the market while also meeting the demands of travelers.”


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