Airport sets annual passenger traffic record, breaking 12-year-old mark

The Indianapolis International Airport says it served 8.77 million passengers in 2017—an all-time record for the airport.

That number includes passengers on both arriving and departing flights. The airport’s previous record was set in 2005, with 8.52 million passengers served.

Full details on the airport’s 2017 traffic—including a breakdown of individual airline performance—aren't yet available, but officials gave a brief overview of the numbers Friday during an Indianapolis Airport Authority board meeting.

“We had five record-breaking months that helped propel us to a record-breaking year,” Senior Director of Commercial Enterprise Marsha Stone told the board.

The airport’s busiest month in 2017 was June, with nearly 434,000 passengers departing the airport.

The 2017 passenger numbers represent an increase of 3.1 percent from 2016, when the airport saw 8.51 million passengers. Passenger counts in 2016 represented 6.4 percent growth over 2015.

New Coke deal

In unrelated business, the board approved a five-year beverage agreement with Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated that’s expected to generate $1.65 million for the airport over the life of the contract.

The agreement means 80 percent of the market share in both vending machines and concessions areas will be available for Coca-Cola products, including sodas, juices, energy drinks and bottled water. Dasani bottled water is a Coca-Cola product. The remaining 20 percent will be available for non-Coke products. 

Stone said the market share will be calculated based on overall airport sales, leaving room for individual vendors to sell varied mixes of beverages. A sizable number of the airport’s retailers and restaurants will see their leases expire at the end of this year, and the airport is actively working to attract new retail brands and concepts as tenants.

Under terms of the agreement, Coca-Cola will pay the airport an annual sponsorship fee of $200,000 from 2018 through 2022, for a total amount of $1 million. The company also will pay a one-time signing fee this year of $100,000. Additionally, Coca-Cola will pay the airport a percentage rent fee on its vending machine sales, which the airport estimates will generate $425,000 over the life of the contract; and an annual rebate incentive worth an estimated $125,000 over the life of the contract.

The new agreement represents a change from the airport’s earlier agreements.

Previously, Coca-Cola had the right to 80 percent of the airport’s beverage cooler space, while Pepsi Co. had an exclusive vending agreement. The Coca-Cola agreement expired in November 2016, and the Pepsi agreement expired in November 2017.

A customer survey conducted in the fall of 2017 shows that Indianapolis airport customers prefer Coca-Cola brand carbonated drinks to Pepsi-brand carbonated drinks by a ratio of nearly 3-to-1, Stone said.

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