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Orlando International Airport hit 44 million passengers in the 12 months that ended in October, officials announced Tuesday.The highest 12-month total in the airport’s history comes as officials are expecting a busy end-of-the-year holiday travel season, with about 3 million passengers arriving and departing.
“Indications are, that with record holiday travel predictions, the numbers will continue to rise,” airport leaders said in a news release.
For the month of October, domestic travel jumped 15 percent to about 3.16 million passengers, the release said. The number of international passengers rose 11 percent to about 500,000.
In October, the reason for the increase was because of a 90 percent load factor — most flights were full, the release said.
The airlines responded by increasing their seats in and out of Orlando. Frontier Airlines added 800 flights this year and Spirit Airlines added 700 flights, the release said.
The high numbers are no surprise.
Visit Orlando has said the tourism industry has been strong in Central Florida this year. The organization has said it expects it to continue into the New Year since the unemployment rate is low, the economy is strong and Brazil’s economy is recovering.
For the first nine months of 2017, about 88.2 million people visited Florida — a new record, according to the most recent numbers available from Visit Florida.
The airport opened new parking, Garage C, before Thanksgiving about a mile south of the terminal — at a site that is intended to eventually serve as a train station for Brightline, SunRail and perhaps a train that will run to and from the tourist district. It will also be adjacent to the South Terminal slated for opening in 2020 with 16 gates and eventually as many as 120 gates. Garage C connects to the current terminal via an automated tram with a ride about 3½ minutes long, and the parking proved necessary recently when a garage adjacent to the terminal was full.
Meanwhile, airport officials said Monday that eight flights to or from Atlanta were canceled as a result of Sunday’s power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. On the first day, more than 28 flights between Orlando and Atlanta were canceled.