As Traverse City continues to grow as a tourism and business destination, the Cherry Capital Airport continues to provide the region with convenient – and growing – travel options.
While many small Michigan airports are struggling, Cherry Capital Airport has been growing, with 2016 being a record year of 451,346 passengers in and out of the facility. This is a substantial leap from the last record breaking year, which was 2005 and had 430,000 passengers. In 2017, the airport is already seeing 5 percent growth in passenger numbers from last year’s record travel.
Airport Director Kevin Klein said that this is in large part due to its three carriers American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air lines, as well as the eight hub airports that connect with Cherry Capital flights. The airport sees more out-of-state travelers than in-state fliers, and is increasingly gaining international travelers as well.
Klein attributes the airports popularity to Traverse City’s growing value as a community.
“We see growth because people have begun to see Traverse City as a destination,” he said. “People want to meet with our businesses and work with our businesses. They see us as an economic partner.”
Klein also mentioned the many events that make Traverse City a strong tourist destination, such as the upcoming Traverse City Film Festival and the recently completed National Cherry Festival.
Cherry Capital Airport also has several capital projects on the horizon. Northlight Aeromed is opening a new hangar in August, and the national chain Costco is building a new store adjacent to the airport. The airport is working on the Runway 10 Extension Project, which will repave the runway, increase navigation equipment, and increase the length of the runway. While this will restrict some of the available flights in September, Klein says it will increase the safety and convenience of flights in the future.
Cherry Capital Airport continues striving to connect Traverse City to a national audience. This summer, they have partnered with Traverse City Tourism, the Gaylord Golf Mecca group and the Traverse City Area Chamber to add direct service between Dallas to Traverse City from June through late August. It was made possible through the Small Communities Airport Development Grant, which was then matched by the multiple local organizations.
Klein says that working with the Chamber has been a valuable partnership, both on this project and in general. Cherry Capital Airport was eligible for the grant due to its larger application as a community investment. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently reported the Cherry Capital Airport’s economic impact at $1 billion – growth that Klein says is made possible because of “the partnerships in the community such as the Chamber.”
–by Clara Trippe