By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

Airport officials are breathing a collective sigh of relief to see their passenger boarding numbers at the end of November.

More than 1,000 people boarded outbound flights, pushing the airport's annual passenger boarding number over the magic 10,000 mark that's needed to qualify the facility for a $1 million grant from Federal Aviation Administration coffers.

With its 1,110 outbound passengers in November, the airport has had two consecutive months that hit the four-figure mark.

The figure is 187 passengers higher than November 2005's 923 statistic.

Dan Brattain, Airport Board chairman, called the statistics andquot;a bit of good news.andquot;

andquot;Hopefully the community is starting to see the benefit of using the airport,andquot; he said.

The increase also is seen as an affirmation that the decision to halve the number of Crescent City-Sacramento flights and double those from Crescent City to San Francisco at summer's end was the right thing to do.

andquot;You can start to see as the schedule changed in October, the enplanements start to move up,andquot; Brattain said.

The airport wants to rev its passenger boarding numbers as high as 25,000 per year in hope of convincing the aviation administration that it can support larger aircraft and additional flights.

With only one carrier serving the Del Norte and Curry counties, ticket prices tend to be higher in Crescent City than Arcata or Medford, Ore., thoughpassengers driving to those locations pay for the road trip and car parking fees.