Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) is having a great deal of success attracting new companies to the site and creating an aviation megasite and economic development zone that will certainly be a big boost to the region’s economy for years to come.

In recent years, PTIA has also completed or begun new projects involving parking deck technology enhancements, road and deck repairs, runway renovations, the construction of a new tower and more.

But with all that success, there’s been one nut the airport, and the seven-member Airport Authority that runs it, haven’t been able to crack: Getting passenger traffic in and out of the airport back to – and then above – pre-pandemic numbers.

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the Authority put out the newest monthly passenger statistics – which run through the end of January 2023.  The good news is that the numbers are still rising after the low points of the spring of 2020.  The bad news is that there’s still a good ways to go to get back up to 2019 levels when compared on a month-by-month basis.

The statistics were released at the Airport Authority’s February board meeting.

Passenger traffic was up 24 percent in January 2023 over January 2022, and also up 24 percent year to date (since there’s only one month in that calculation so far this year).

However, even with that solid jump, the number of passengers flying in and out of the airport in January 2023 versus 2019 was down 24 percent..

On the other hand, the amount of cargo flying in and out of the airport is above 2019 levels.  While the amount of cargo going in and out of PTIA in January was down 15 percent compared with January 2022, cargo for January 2023 did beat pre-pandemic numbers: It was up 2 percent over January of 2019.

Another stat released by the Airport Authority offers a look forward.  The “total departing seats” scheduled for March 2023 – filled or unfilled– is 97,999, which is up 12 percent over March 2022.  However, it is still down 16 percentage points over March 2019.