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Last year, Provo Municipal Airport more than doubled its number of commercial passengers — and jumped from Utah's No. 4 airport to No. 2, leapfrogging over St. George and Wendover.

That's according to final 2014 data about passenger boardings released this week by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Data also show that Salt Lake City International Airport ranked as the nation's 25th busiest airport and saw its boardings increase by 4.9 percent. Officials say that is because of an improving economy and the addition of Alaska Airlines and numerous new flights.

But the jump in traffic out of Provo — where Allegiant Air offers nine flights a week — is dramatic.

FAA data show that boardings more than doubled, from 30,090 in 2013 to 62,011 in 2014.

Provo Airport Manager Steve Gleason said Allegiant added an extra weekly flight to Mesa, Ariz., "and they added destinations like Los Angeles and San Francisco." He said the added flights started a couple of years ago, and new data may be more accurate than older numbers.

"I think the count is just catching up with reality," he said.

Gleason said more people are discovering that flying out of Provo can be cheap and convenient.

"A huge part of the market flying out of Salt Lake is coming out of Utah County. It could be as high as 21 percent. So we know there is a huge market for air travel here," he said. "We just want to give people of Provo a convenient option, so we don't have to make that drive, park in a parking lot and take a shuttle to the terminal."

He adds, "At the Provo airport, you can just park in front of the terminal and you walk right in, and it's easier. … Frankly, some people will drive from Salt Lake County down to Provo because of the ease of travel, and because Allegiant is an ultra-low-cost carrier."

Salt Lake County's population is about twice as big as Utah County's, 1.1 million compared to 561,000.

Alligiant Air said in a written statement, "We're very pleased with our service from Ogden [which it also serves] and Provo and passenger demand for our low-cost flights," and said it has been adding flights as demand has increased.

Another factor in the Provo airport's increasing popularity is extra air traffic created by Brigham Young University.

"Parents can fly to visit their kids in school. Education Week, Women's Conference, all of these things, drives quite a bit of air travel, more than I think a lot of people realize."

St. George — which is served by Delta and United airlines — dropped to Utah's No. 3 airport with 59,321 boardings, up 8.7 percent from the previous year.

Wendover was No. 4 with 51,180 boardings, down by 1.9 percent. Casinos in adjacent West Wendover, Nev., offer charter flights on a rotating schedule from more than five dozen cities in the West and Midwest. For a low cost, passengers receive a round trip and three days at a hotel.

Ogden, served by Allegiant, reported 18,843 boardings, up 21.4 percent. Cedar City, served by Delta, had 14,362, up by 8.7 percent. Moab, served by Great Lakes Airlines, had 9,259 boardings, up 31.4 percent.

Despite the growth of other airports, data show that 98 percent of air travelers boarding in Utah still use Salt Lake City International Airport. It had 10.1 million boardings in 2014, up from 9.7 million in 2013. It is a hub for Delta, and it is served by eight other major airlines. They offer 318 average daily departures to 88 nonstop destinations.

Airport spokeswoman Bianca Shreeve said the increase likely stemmed from a stronger economy and because Alaska Airlines began service there recently.

"I think it's all those things," she said. "We have increased service and increased frequency of service. … The economy also is allowing more people to experience traveling."

The airport is one year into a $1.8 billion Terminal Redevelopment Program that will replace virtually all airport facilities over the next eight to 10 years. She said plans are taking into account the growing numbers of passengers.

Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Halley Knigge said her airline offers 13 average daily flights out of Salt Lake City, is happy with its success so far and has found that Salt Lakers "are excited to be flying with us."

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