Shrugging off recessionary drag, air travel in and out of the Rogue Valley surged last month.

Shrugging off recessionary drag, air travel in and out of the Rogue Valley surged last month.

August passenger counts at the Medford airport were the second-highest for that month on record and capped the second-best ever three-month travel season.

The 60,823 passengers to clear the airport gates in August were the second-most since the record-high August 2007 count of 65,427. The 4.7 percent increase was the third-straight month of year-over-year gains and pushed the year-to-date total to 394,927, 6.1 percent behind 2008’s pace.

“I just came back from a legal conference and airports around the country are about 10 percent down,” said Airport Director Bern Case. “We’re 4 percent better than average. I’m just glad to see (the totals) edging in the right direction.”

He said the competition for passengers between Horizon Air and Allegiant Air has produced attractive fares to Los Angeles. Case suggested leisure travel has been the impetus for the increased passenger activity.

“Allegiant’s two flights a week is not as good for business travelers as leisure passengers,” he said.

The airport has 22 arrivals and 22 departures daily to eight cities, down from more than 30 departures during the peak 2007 market.

“The thing that comes into play is the size of aircraft,” Case said. “One Allegiant (MD 80) flight is equal to five of the 30-passenger flights. Even with our regional jets, capacity has been edging up. Instead of 50-passenger jets, we’re seeing 70 normally and 90 part of the time.”

The 183,671 passengers to fly in and out of the Rogue Valley between June and August was second only to the 2007 summer total of 193,311.

Allegiant reported a 180 percent increase in travel. United Express was up 9.4 percent and Delta Connection 1.2 percent. Horizon Air’s passenger count was off 2.2 percent.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.