Parking at a premium as more and more people fly out of CVG airport

HEBRON, Ky. -- As passenger numbers continue to soar at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, parking, it seems, is becoming a bit of a problem.

The airport's long-term lot, CVG ValuPark, has reached its max capacity about half a dozen times -- nearly every weekend since Memorial Day, officials said. That's almost 6,000 spots completely booked.

It's a recent wrinkle and a first for the airport as travelers increasingly seek out lower-priced fares from the likes of Frontier, Allegiant and Southwest.

For now, CVG is diverting overflow parking to its nearby terminal garage, a haven for short-term and business folks. Meanwhile, officials are exploring other options to better accommodate the increase in demand.

In June, the airport recorded its 34th consecutive month of local passenger growth, nearly breaking May's record for the highest number of originating travelers ever. Bobby Spann, CVG's vice president of external affairs, said 80,000 more people flew last month compared to the same period last year.

Lisa Ransom, director of parking and ground transportation, said diverted travelers were given "rate switch tickets" that allowed them to park in the terminal garage, normally $15 per day, for the Valu rate of $8 per day.

"Fortunately, we have room in the garage right now," she said. "These are good problems to have.”

But given CVG's projected growth -- the airport wants to serve 9 million passengers by 2021, or 2.2 million more than in 2016 -- officials are studying additional ways to boost parking capacity. Parking fees are a significant source of revenue; year-to-date, CVG has collected $18 million, a 9.5-percent jump from 2016. In June, revenues topped $3.4 million, a 23-percent increase over the prior year.

That's up even with the advent of Uber and Lyft, although CVG does get a portion of each ride they share. 

"Parking (revenue) continues to go gangbusters," said Sheila Hammons, CVG's chief financial officer.

In the short term, Ransom said, they could use a portion of the existing employee surface lot, which has about 4,000 spaces. That solution that could come online within the next year.

The airport's website tracks the number of available parking spots. Photo provided

A more permanent fix will require study as part of the airport's master plan.

"But, we'd like to note, we're not turning away customers," Ransom said. "It's very important to us that we accommodate everyone."

CVG does update the number of available parking spots live on its website

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