HEBRON, Ky. -- May isn't over just yet, but officials at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport are bracing for a record-setting month all the same.
CVG, they say, will likely beat an all-time high for most local passengers served. Early projections have the airport topping its previous best of 378,549 passengers by roughly 1,500.
It's another notch for the "fastest-growing airport in the country." CVG is already coming off its best April in 18 years in terms of O&D traffic, a measure for passengers who begin or end their trip here. Look for more of the same as it enters its peak travel season.
"We do expect to break monthly records in June, July and August as well," said Bobby Spann, CVG's vice president of external affairs. "Maybe even September. We're going to be talking about records for the next three to four months."
WOW's launch on May 10 certainly deserves mention, while Delta Air Lines also added new service to Austin, Texas, starting May 1. But Spann said there's another factor at play.
CVG has seen a schedule shift from airlines -- namely, Delta and Allegiant -- which is increasing seat capacity.
Allegiant is adding seats on Tuesdays, a day typically slow for leisure travel; and Delta is adding capacity on Saturdays.
In May, the airport will realize a 26.9 percent increase in seats on Tuesdays and 29.6 percent on Saturdays. That trend will continue throughout the months of June, July and August, and represents a sea change at CVG.
"Traditionally, carriers focused on the corporate traffic, specifically Delta," Spann said. "So when it came to Saturday, that's when you got the ghost town conversations on social media, because Concourse B was empty with the exception of some morning and evening flights. It's a totally different picture now, especially with American moving over. And Allegiant has historically put planes on the ground on Tuesdays, but that's changing. With five aircraft (based) here, they're deciding to do something with them.
"We're no longer a Monday-Friday airport; we're a seven-day-a-week airport, especially on Delta's schedule," Spann added. "And that's a huge driver for us right now."
While officials wait for official data for May, they lauded their success in April. CVG served 343,282 local passengers for the month, beating a previous record set in April 2000. CVG also had its best April since 2009 in terms of total enplanements, which measures connecting passengers as well. And all regular carriers experienced year-over-year growth in terms of total passengers served, including Allegiant (up 60 percent), United (up 25.5 percent) and Frontier (up 18.9 percent).
Given those totals and the projections for May -- and beyond -- CVG could come close to hitting a key marker: 9 million total passengers for the year. That's a significant five-year goal officials had hoped to reach by 2021.
It appears CVG is ahead of schedule. The airport served 7.8 million passengers in 2017, its largest volume since 2010.
"I’ll be surprised if we hit it (9 million) completely this year, but things are looking really good," Spann said. "We're going to come real close."
In other airport news:
--DHL continues its "exponential growth" at CVG, said airport CEO Candace McGraw. The cargo giant will lease 68,149 square feet of office space at CVG Centre for its operational support teams as well as a new Certified International Specialist training center for employee learning and development programs.
Travis Cobb, senior vice president, network operations for DHL Express Americas, said the office expansion "will provide a state-of-the-art work environment for employees and enable the next phase of growth at the CVG hub.”
DHL has invested more than $280 million at CVG since 2009.
The company will occupy the third, fourth and fifth floors of CVG Centre and hopes to move in by late summer/early fall.
Most recently, Amazon agreed to rent roughly 13,000 square feet at CVG Centre, the former Comair building. CVG's administrative team also occupies roughly 30,000 square feet there.
The agreement is for five years with one five-year option. CVG stands to make roughly $783,000 in the deal, at least in Year 1. The rental rate increases each year.
--Vacation Express will start service to Cozumel, Mexico, on May 24. It also resumed service to Jamaica on May 22 and will add flights to Grand Bahamas on May 30.
--Frontier celebrated its five-year anniversary at CVG on May 17. The ultra-low-cost carrier started service at CVG in 2013 with six weekly flights to Denver. Frontier now serves 19 markets with more than 80 weekly flights.