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As second runway plans develop, Palm Beach Airport hits record 8 million passengers

People talk on their cellphones as they stand in line in a busy airport hallway.
Carolyn DiPaolo
Passengers flock to Palm Beach International Airport during spring break.

Passenger traffic at Palm Beach International Airport has hit record levels.

For the first time, the 12-month passenger count (May 2023 to April 2024) has topped 7.9 million. That’s a 12% rise over the previous one-year period.

It indicates traffic has rebounded from the pandemic shutdown. The growth is behind the airport’s decision to move forward with the controversial 10-year effort to create a second parallel runway capable of supporting commercial jets, as Stet reported April 23.

Total traffic, which includes departing and arriving passengers, hit a high of 7.04 million for the 12 months ending in February 2020, the month before the shutdown. It dipped to 2.2 million in February 2021.

READ MORE: A new airport could spark the economy in a rural part of Florida. Will the workforce be ready?

The only time it topped 7 million before that came in 2005, before the Great Recession. It has never topped 8 million. It stood at 7,977,288 at the end of April. 

While fewer travelers are expected over the summer, the 8 million milestone likely will be surpassed in the fall, Airports Director Laura Beebe said.

PBIA is in a competitive market. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport counts about 35 million passengers a year while Miami International is even busier, with 52 million.

The figures, released last week to the Aviation and Airports Advisory Board, came with news of more commercial flights for PBIA:

  • JetBlue announced four flights a week starting Oct. 24 to Islip on Long Island in New York. It also will increase flights to New York-JFK, Boston, Washington-Reagan and Providence, R.I., and resume nonstop flights to Los Angeles Oct. 27 (through April).
  • Allegiant will fly more often to Asheville, N.C., and Pittsburgh and will resume flights to Cincinnati starting Nov. 21.
  • Breeze will offer flights twice a week to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., starting June 21.
  • American extended its direct flights to Chicago through Sept. 3 and will resume them Oct. 7.

This story was originally published by Stet News Palm Beach, a WLRN News partner. 

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