BY TIM SHEEHAN The Fresno Bee
Airline flights from Fresno are on pace to make 2012 one of the busiest years ever at Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
Figures released last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that airlines carried more than 381,000 passengers on domestic flights from Fresno in the first eight months of the year.
It's the best January-through-August total in four years, marking a continuing rebound from fewer than 360,000 passengers in 2009, when the region was in the pit of the recession. It's also the fourth-best eight-month figure since 2000.
The figures count passengers aboard seven domestic airline brands serving Fresno -- Alaska Airlines, its sister airline Horizon Air, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.
From Fresno, nonstop flights head to Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. Those cities offer flight connections to the rest of the U.S. and the world -- something the airport has been aggressively promoting in recent advertising campaigns.
Bolstering the totals were the launches this year of nonstop flights to Honolulu by Allegiant and to San Diego by Alaska.
The domestic passenger count doesn't include international flights on two Mexican airlines, Aeromexico and Volaris, that offer nonstop service from Fresno to Guadalajara.
The Department of Transportation only reports international passenger counts through May, but in the first five months of 2012, Aeromexico and Volaris carried another 22,300 passengers from Fresno.
Nationally, domestic air travel continues to surge back from a low point in 2009. Through August, airlines carried more than 434 million passengers. That's up by more than 4 million from the first eight months of 2011 and almost 15 million more than the first eight months of 2009.