- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 12, 2018

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The Burlington International Airport, which struggled after the 2008 recession, is seeing a 12 percent increase in passengers so far this year, officials said Wednesday as they announced that a low-cost carrier was coming to the airport with seasonal direct flights to Florida.

The total number of travelers departing from the airport by year’s end is expected to be between 650,000 and 700,000, up from 580,000 about five years ago, officials said.

“We’re not going to say we’re going to stay there forever because we don’t decide, the people decide. And affordability decides,” said aviation director Gene Richards.

In 2008 and 2009, the number of departures peaked at 750,000. The amount then dropped.

Smaller communities are at a disadvantage when competing with other airports for airlines.

In recent years, the Burlington International Airport has worked with its existing airlines to bring in affordable fares and add mainline service with bigger jets for more dependable flights, Richards said.

That means many flights will be on bigger aircraft, which will be full, he said.

“Every airline that serves Burlington now has main line and it’s a big deal,” he said.

On Wednesday, Frontier Airlines said it will offer flights twice a week to Orlando, Florida, next year from February to April. It hopes to expand its service to and from South Burlington.

Richards urged the community to think twice about flying from a different airport to save money, considering the time spent in the car, cost of parking and chance of delays.

“We’re very, very, very lucky to have the main line aircraft and the service that we have. Don’t take it for granted. It is here but it will be gone tomorrow if you don’t take care of it,” he said.

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