Stillwater Regional Airport sees growth in passenger traffic
Ponca City Now - February 13, 2020 11:43 am
STILLWATER — You can feel the excitement in the air, so to speak. In 2019, the Stillwater Regional Airport (SWO) helped more than 58,000 passengers reach their destination, which was an 8% increase over numbers from 2018.
“We’re excited,” Airport Director Paul Priegel said. “In 2016, when we began commercial flight out of the Stillwater, we thought people would appreciate flying into and out of Stillwater, but to see so many people booking this many tickets in such a short amount of time is amazing.”
Priegel can’t point to any one thing that created the spike; instead, he said there has been a continued push for improving the customer experience not only by the Stillwater Regional Airport but by American Airlines, too.
“I know you think staff may not look at customer comments left on our online customer satisfaction survey, but we do,” he said. “For example, we learned that an indoor baggage claim was important, so we made that happen.” The airport is also looking at ways to meet customers’ needs from everything from making sure there is a coffee service to improved parking options.
The airport has offered daily flights to and from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on American Airlines since commercial flight began in 2016.
“American Airlines is a great partner,” he said. “They share our desire to increase reliability and to provide the best connections (especially to international destinations), so our customers can get to where they are going.”
Priegel said one of the biggest issues the airport, which is the fourth busiest one in Oklahoma, faces is in the area of reliability. In February 2018, there were 28 flights canceled because of snow and ice.
“The City of Stillwater recognized that if we are to have year-round commercial air service, we had to purchase de-icing equipment,” he said. “It’s been money well spent.”
Following the most recent winter storm, the Stillwater Regional Airport was one of the first airports in the state to have its runways cleared and ready for takeoff.
In 2020, the airport will continue making capital improvements in areas of airfield surface, security and equipment. Also, Oklahoma State University is building a new flight center at the airport in 2021. The state-of-the-art facility will house more than 300 flight students in the university’s professional pilot program.
Priegel said he is often asked who flies in and out of Stillwater.
“We have a lot of different kinds of customers. There are the business travelers to whom time is money. They like not spending time driving to and from Oklahoma City and Tulsa. We have OSU professors and students who like the convenience of flying from the university to most any place worldwide. We also have a growing customer base who like the free parking, which is important if you are going on a long trip, whether it’s for recreational or business. And everyone likes the short drive home after traveling all day.”
For a regional airport like Stillwater’s to be successful, it has to have community-wide support.
“We are fortunate that our businesses and residents have championed the airport. This support is part of the reason so many people know about and are flying locally,” he said.
The Stillwater Regional Airport is also important to Stillwater’s economy. According to the 2017 Economic Impact Study conducted by the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, Stillwater’s airport has a local economic impact of more than $70 million annually and either directly or indirectly contributes to 663 jobs in the community.
Read more on the airport at flystillwaterok.com. To book flights, use airport code SWO at aa.com. Want to provide your input for future improvements? Take the airport’s customer satisfaction survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/StillwaterRegional.