[caption id="attachment_46748" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- Passenger volume at Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport was up by 1.2 percent in December compared to last year, while 2011 ridership overall  increased nearly 10 percent from the year before, according to airport figures.

In December, just over 16,500 passengers flew in and out of the airport, down from about 17,300 in November. But over the year, passenger volume edged upward from the December 2010 total of 16,349 passengers.

For the year, 207,188 passengers came through the airport, up from 188,755 in 2010, an increase of 9.8 percent.

Horizon Air, the sister carrier of Alaska Air, is the airport's only commercial airline and operates five flights daily to Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and Las Vegas from Santa Rosa.

The increase in passenger traffic underscores the airport's proposal for a significant expansion that would extend the runway by 885 feet to 6,000 feet, improving safety and allowing regional jets to land.

The Planning Commission in December voted 4-1 to support the $84 million project. The board of supervisors is set to vote on the project's final environmental impact report Jan. 10.

Federal authorities also must approve of the plan.