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Grand Rapids airport sets new passenger record

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids.
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The Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids.

Last year the number of passengers traveling through Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids went up more than 20%. The airport served more than 2.1 million passengers in 2010; a new record for Michigan’s second largest airport. 

Bruce Schedlbauer is a spokesman for Ford Airport. He thanks a combination of factors. Foremost, he says a more stable economy helped boost the numbers.

 “AirTran and Frontier both started in May of last year, bringing some lower fares, some additional seats to the market, some new destinations and some more competition quite frankly.”

Before the two low fare airlines came in, Schedlbauer says flying out of the Ford Airport was one of the most expensive tickets in the country for its size, so people looked to Detroit Metro for deals.

We’re seeing much less of that because of the now lower fares available right here in Grand Rapids. And as a matter of fact that’s allowed us to draw from some of the other surrounding airports because people are willing to drive a bit of a distance for a great fare to a great destination.

Schedulbauer says they regularly see people traveling from South Bend, Traverse City, even Lansing to fly out of Grand Rapids.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.