With the total passenger count at 919,044, 2015 was a record year at Springfield-Branson National Airport. It smashes the old record set in 2005 of 888,738, and is a 9% increase over 2014 passenger numbers.

“Over 70,000 more passengers used the Springfield airport last year than in 2014,” says Brian Weiler, airport director of aviation. “This level of passenger growth is very good news and a strong indicator of a much improved local economy.”

The year was marked not only by a record number of passengers, but also by several air service improvements.

“American Airlines started new twice-daily service to its major hub in Charlotte, and all the airlines are using some bigger planes in the market,” says Kent Boyd, airport marketing and air service development director. “Some of those bigger planes even have first class seating.”

“The move away from 50-seat jets is industry wide, but it’s accelerated in Springfield due to strong demand,” says Boyd. “Demand is so high that over the past four years airlines have increased the number of seats for sale in Springfield by nearly 16%.

At the same time,the number of passengers grew by over 25%. The bottom line is that Springfield is one of the few small cities in the country to see significant passenger growth.”

This year is shaping up for additional growth as well.

“In April, American will add a fifth daily flight to Chicago, giving Springfield a total of nine flights a day to Chicago — that’s five a day on American, and four a day on United. Taking that into consideration, along with the addition of Charlotte service last November, it all but guarantees that 2016 will be another year of growth,” says Weiler. “If the trend continues as expected, we should exceed a million passengers within the next few years.”

Passenger growth is good but it brings challenges; last year airport parking lots frequently ran out of spaces.

“That’s a good problem to have,” says Weiler. “We’re currently designing and will have a parking lot expansion project under construction later in 2016.”

Four airlines serve Springfield: Allegiant, American, Delta, and United. They provide non-stop flights to: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte Tampa/St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Punta Gorda/Ft. Myers.