If you've ever flown from Grand Rapids' Ford Airport, you know how pricey those airline seats can be as opposed to Chicago or Detroit. We've long ranked as one of the most expensive cities to fly from by annual government surveys. Grand Rapids has seemingly been unable to lure one of the prized "low-cost carriers" to town to alleviate the stress on traveller's wallets. That is until 2010.
A year ago Allegiant Air moved from Lansing to Grand Rapids, and grew steadily. The airline has recieved massive support from the region. Then in January, the real shoe fell. It was announced that AirTran Airways had finally agreed to begin flights from GRR. The airline started daily services to two of it's hubs at Baltimore-Washington and Orlando at the start of May, and added Tampa and Fort Myers, Florida on the weekends in June.
For the year 2010 passenger numbers at GRR are up a healthy 15%, but the real juice is where AirTran started services. The month of May 2010 saw a 26% increase in passengers from the same period in 2009. Furthermore in the middle of May, Frontier began daily services to Denver from Grand Rapids, competing directly with United, who already runs an daily non-stop to the Mile High City. These new numbers are conforming what critics and local travelers have long lamented. The West Michigan region is a perfect fit for major low cost airlines, and the real winners here are everyone; travelers, the airlines and Gerald R. Ford Airport.
The airport is hopeful for future expansion and further decreases in fare prices in the face of this good news.