The Nashville airport is cheering its 20th consecutive month of increasing passenger traffic. But officials caution that the pick-up still leaves activity well below its peak.
“Growth” – as airport CEO Raul Regalado defines it – would be more people flying in and out of BNA than did in 2007.
“We’re not back to pre-recession levels yet, and probably won’t be there for another year. And then, if it continues to increase, we would be in a true growth mode.”
Nationally, passenger traffic also peaked in 2007, according to the FAA. But some airports have bounced back more quickly than Nashville, whose recovery has been slower and steadier.
Regalado says a mix of business travelers and tourists accounts for the increase. Year to date, airport officials say traffic is up four percent.
Airport Chief Says Successor Will Focus on Improved Service
Much of Regalado’s time at the helm has been spent renovating terminals, building parking structures and reworking the screening area. He’s also managed the airport through a big drop off in passengers after 9/11 and in the most recent recession.
Regalado, who retires in June, says the next challenge is improving and increasing service.
“It’s our unserved markets, whether they be domestic or international, or our underserved markets, where we don’t have enough service.”
For example, Nashville has no nonstop service to Boston, even though an average of 150 people fly there each day.
Regalado’s priority list for additional service also includes Indianapolis, Little Rock and Oklahoma City.
The next CEO of Nashville International is the current chief of operations, Rob Wigington. He takes over July 1st.