ROCHESTER, Minn. — The Rochester International Airport is seeing a spike in its number of passengers with the addition of more flights and an endorsement from Mayo Clinic.

The airport has already had more passengers so far in 2017 than in all of 2016, the Post Bulletin reported. More than 230,000 passengers have used the airport through October this year, compared to about 229,000 passengers for all of last year.

“The airport is making huge strides . in passenger numbers,” said John Reed, the airport’s director.

The airport’s passenger numbers were down in 2015 and 2016. The spike occurred in June after the Mayo Clinic’s policy change.

Mayo Clinic amended its travel policy to require employees traveling for work to use the Rochester airport instead of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. An estimated four out of five employees previously choose to fly from the Twin Cities airport over the Rochester facility, Mayo Clinic said.

“Administrative and allied health staff use of Rochester International Airport is at approximately 95 percent and the use by physicians and scientists has voluntarily grown to 50 percent,” said Steven McNeill, Mayo Clinic’s chief planning officer and chair of the Rochester Airport Co. Board.

Mayo Clinic founded the first Rochester airport in 1928. The city owns the current airport, but Mayo Clinic is contracted to manage it through its Rochester Airport Co. firm.

United Airlines began operating three flights from Rochester to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in June. Delta Air Lines added additional daily flights to Atlanta and Minneapolis-St. Paul in July.

“With the additional capacity, you’re north of 260 new seats a day into and out of the market. That in itself leads to the ability of more people to be able to get on a plane,” Reed said.

The Rochester airport is currently undergoing a $12 million renovation project.


Information from: Post-Bulletin, http://www.postbulletin.com