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Times are good for the tourism industry in Asheville, North Carolina — a quaint, artsy town in the heart of the state’s Blue Ridge Mountain range.
Asheville, known for its bevy of craft breweries, the Biltmore Estate and burgeoning local art scene, is not only growing its hotel capacity by 40% over the next four years, but also it has a booming aviation market to accommodate waves of new tourists.
Over the last two years alone, Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) increased its flight capacity on weekly departing seats by 33.2%, according to new numbers from aviation consulting group IFC Inc. Direct flights to and from New York, in addition to its tourism boon, have also helped Asheville grow its flight capacity in the past couple years. In late 2016, Allegiant Air added four flights a week from Newark (EWR) to Asheville (AVL), and United made its seasonal EWR to AVL route a year-round fixture that year as well.
Asheville’s growth rate is second only to Florida’s Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS), which edged out Asheville by just a tenth of a percentage at 33.3% added capacity, for the fastest growing airport in the country with at least 5,000 weekly departing seats.
Destin, a popular resort town in Florida’s panhandle, is seeing full flights everyday, local officials say. “These aircraft are coming in slammed full,” Tracy Stage, airports director for Okaloosa County, Florida, told Bloomberg. “Destin used to be a well-kept secret, but it’s ranked in the top five in terms of world-class beaches and fishing.”
The other fastest-growing airports in the US are small regional outposts, too, IFC Inc. reports. Peoria, Illinois (PIA), trails behind Asheville with 28.7% growth of weekly departing seats, followed by Appleton, Wisconsin (ATW) — the home of the state’s regional carrier, Air Wisconsin. Rounding out the top five fastest-growing airports with at least 5,000 weekly departing seats is Trenton, NJ (TTN), which added 26.2% capacity to its departing seat capacity.
Featured image by George Rose/Getty Images.
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