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Summer travel, NBA fans heat up state airports

Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport and Tulsa International Airport each experienced a boost in outgoing travel in April and May; in Tulsa, it was the first consecutive two-month increase in two years.
by Jennifer Palmer Published: June 20, 2012

Warm, summer weather mixed with conventions, concerts and sports helped traffic take off at both of the state's major commercial airports.

Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City and Tulsa International Airport posted outbound passenger increases of about 1.5 percent last month, compared with May 2011.

A larger boost was experienced in April, when Tulsa had 2.8 percent more people take off and Will Rogers World Airport had nearly 5 percent more than the year before.

“It's just been a nice smooth couple of months,” said Alexis Higgins, spokeswoman for Tulsa International Airport.

The last time the airport logged two consecutive months of passenger increases was May-June 2010.

Rocklahoma, a major rock concert held in Pryor, helped drive traffic in May, she said.

In Oklahoma City, Legal Shield's annual convention and the Big 12 Baseball Championship brought thousands of people to town, said Karen Carney, an airport spokeswoman.

This month, traveling Thunder fans have been passing through Will Rogers World Airport for the NBA Finals. Delta Air Lines added a flight to Oklahoma City last week for the first game in the series against the Miami Heat, and every airline was booked going to Miami on Thursday and Friday, she said.

“June ... is always huge,” she said.

“But the Thunder-Heat competition has definitely kicked it up a notch.”

She said she encountered fans from all over — including a couple from France who won tickets.

Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport

There were 5,347 departing passengers in May at Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport, a decrease of 7.4 percent compared with May 2011. Outbound traffic also decreased in April to 4,703, compared with 4,918 in 2011, a 4.4 percent dip.

by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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