FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, airports resembled ghost towns as passenger traffic all but disappeared due to travel restrictions and other factors.

After seeing a record number of passengers in 2019, traffic at Fort Wayne International plummeted during the pandemic, however traffic has continued to rebound as things returned to normal. The airport reported Thursday that it has seen three consecutive months of passenger enplanements exceeding 2019’s record numbers.

Fort Wayne International’s numbers are up 11.6% compared to July 2022 and up 7.54% in year-to-date enplanements (outbound passengers) compared to 2022. In year-to-date total passenger traffic, the airport is up 8.3%. July 2023 is up 5% over July 2019, while year-to-date the airport is on the cusp of meeting 2019’s passenger traffic numbers.

The airport cited several factors contributing to the rebound:

  • American Airlines added a third daily, non-stop flight to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) in October 2022. Charlotte continues to be a high-performing route for FWA, and American Airlines has recognized the demand. 
  • Delta Air Lines upgauged the aircraft serving both the Atlanta and Minneapolis markets in October 2022. Passengers flying to and through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) now fly on the larger CRJ-900 aircraft, which seats 76 passengers.
  • Beginning in April 2023, American Airlines added a third daily flight to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). Not only did AA add an additional frequency to the DFW route, it also upgauged the aircraft for all three flights to the 75-seat Embraer-175 aircraft.
  • In June 2023 American Airlines added a third daily flight to their FWA to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) route. Currently this route operates on both the 65-seat CRJ-700 and 50-seat CRJ and ERJ-145 aircraft. Beginning in December 2023 all flights will upgauge to the larger CRJ-700.

In addition, United Airlines has added an additional fourth daily, non-stop flight to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) from FWA beginning Thursday, September 7. This fourth daily flight is currently available for booking and is scheduled to run through Saturday, October 28.  This additional frequency will operate five days per week with a 6:20 AM departure to ORD, and 9:05 PM arrival at FWA. United added a third-daily flight in September 2022.

The addition of this flight shows United’s interest in increasing their presence in the Fort Wayne market. Should the fourth daily flight be successful, United could potentially extend it within their flight schedule.