From the notebook of business editor Tim Rausch

Augusta Regional experienced increase in foreign travel

As one of the busiest travel times of the year just concluded, I stumbled upon an interesting study involving air travel that included the Augusta Regional Airport.

 

By being on its e-mail list for MetroMonitor and other economic analysis, the Brookings Institution sent over a study on international air travel. In eight years, Augusta had a 30 percent increase in the number of travelers headed for other countries.

 

In 2003, there were 22,625 passengers that started their international travel in Augusta. That jumped to 29,412 in 2011.

 

Where’d they go? Well, Brookings got the data to track that.

 

Most of the international travel involves western Europe – 32.4 percent of the travelers. Then comes Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by Mexico and Canada.

 

The Middle East and North Africa amount to 9.4 percent of the foregin travel at Augusta Regional.

 

In reality, a majority of these travelers are going from Augusta to Atlanta and then boarding the international flight there.

 

Since Brookings only analyzed the largest 100 metro airports, Savannah isn’t in the study. But Columbia is. The destinations are similar, but the increase in foreign travel wasn’t as pronounced as in Augusta. (Columbia had a 5.4 percent increase over the eight years.)

 

The big picture is that international air travel in and out of the United States more than doubled between 1990 and 2011. That rate was more than two-times the growth rate in domestic passengers, and far exceeded the country’s 24.5 percent population growth.

 

The Great Recession affected commercial aviation along with most other industries, leading to a nearly 10 percent drop in passenger levels after 2008. But since the beginning of 2010, international aviation staged a major rebound — recapturing all of its passenger losses and setting record highs through the end of 2011.

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