There’s a world of activity going on at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA), with a golf course being converted into more aviation megasite land, runway and terminal renovations, and the ground breaking for the new supersonic jet factory.

However, while so much of the news from PTIA is terrific on many fronts, passenger traffic is an area where the airport continues to face challenges.  Newly released passenger stats from the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority – the board that runs the airport – showed an unwelcome drop in passenger traffic for December 2022 when compared with December 2021.

According to the latest numbers, passenger traffic in and out of PTIA was down 4 percent in December 2022 compared with December 2021.

Airport officials also like to compare new monthly passenger numbers with the numbers for the same month prior to when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and decimated air travel.

For PTIA, the number of passengers for December 2022 versus 2019 dropped 28 percent.  One milestone the Airport Authority members want to see is passenger traffic finally surpassing the number for the same month pre-pandemic.  That 28 percentage point drop means that the almost chimeric goal is getting further out of reach.

The amount of cargo coming in and out of PTIA has been a bright spot during the pandemic and in the months following.  However, in December 2022, the amount of cargo at PTIA was down 14 percent compared with December 2021.  Some of that is no doubt attributable to a slowing economy.

On a more positive note, when looked at for the year, cargo was up 2 percent in 2022 compared with the previous year, and passenger traffic was up 25 percent on an annual basis.

Also on a positive note, cargo for December 2022 versus the pre-pandemic 2019 December was up 36 percent.

In other stats released by PTIA this week, the total departing seats scheduled for February 2023 (with or without people in those seats) is 84,186, down less than 1 percent compared with February 2022, but down 17 percent compared with February 2019.

Also, the “load factor” – that is, the average percentage of airplane seats departing the airport  with passengers in them – was 85 percent in October 2022.

That’s 5 percentage points higher than October 2021 and 6 points higher than October 2019.