COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Springs Airport is on pace to hit a record number of travelers for the year.
It is an addition to other records already set in 2023.
Several of those highs happened during the Thanksgiving travel period.
“Through the TSA checkpoint, we had for over 41,000 people for the about 10 day window around the holiday,” said Director of Aviaiton, Greg Phillips.
In addition, the Sunday after Thanksgiving recorded a one-day record high.
“On the 26th of November, we had 4966 people through the checkpoint, just under 5000,” said Phillips, “That was the highest number we've seen since we started keeping daily records at the checkpoint.”
Increased passenger traffic at the small airport can lead to airlines considering the addition of more flight options.
“I can tell you from conversations I have with airlines and with network planners, that they see Colorado Springs, and every airline is aware of the growth that Colorado Springs has been seeing,” said Phillips.
A traveler named Amelia, heading to Chicago would like see more options and also want the airport to maintain its smaller airport convenience.
“It's just like easier, less crowded. Like it's so much better,” said Amelia.
The Thanksgiving numbers offered a preview of a possible issue as growth at the airport continues.
Demand for parking was up by 24% over the holiday.
The 5,500 regular parking spaces and then 500 overflow spaces filled the night before Thanksgiving.
Overflow has only been needed one time previously, which was Thanksgiving of 2021.
"It is this small window right around Thanksgiving that is our busiest time. And it's great to see but we certainly want to make sure we're taking care of people,” said Phillips.
The overflow areas are arguably needed only in rare circumstances.
Airport planners are also well aware that overall numbers of Colorado Springs Airport customers are expanding and the Thanksgiving parking shortage could be a preview or parking needs in years ahead.
“As we continue to grow, we're going to have to deal with parking in a different way. Having people park in the gravel is not something we want to do long term,” said Phillips.
There are ideas like consolidating the rental car area which would free up hundreds of parking spaces.
The cost of change and what it could pass-on to airlines and travelers has to be considered.
Covered parking for example is an idea where cost verses benefit comes into play.
“On an average of about $30,000 per parking space a 1000 parking space garage is $30 million,” said Phillips.
Decisions on exactly how parking changes happen are still to come.
The number of travelers and parking spaces they are using make parking improvements a priority.
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