Passenger traffic at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif., increased to 8.85 million in 2012, a 2.9% bump from 2011, according to figures released by Orange County airport officials.

“The addition of service to three new destinations in Mexico by AirTran and Interjet helped contribute to this growth,” said airport director Alan Murphy. “The overall increase in passengers, however, reflects both the new international service and improvements in the general domestic travel market.”

The airport completed the first phase of a $543 million capital improvement project in November 2011 that increased Terminal C’s square footage by roughly two-thirds.

The new construction created two new commuter terminals, six new loading bridges and gates, a new baggage handling system, and greatly expanded the terminal’s retail offerings.

That phase included construction of an international arrival facility where U.S. Customs and Border Protection can process international passengers, spurring increased air traffic between the airport and Mexico.

In June, Southwest Airlines, through subsidiary AirTran, began offering the airport’s first nonstop daily flights to Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas. Interjet, Mexico’s second largest air carrier, introduced daily nonstop flights to Mexico City and Guadalajara in October.

Phase two of the capital improvement project, expected to cost $80 million, and currently underway, will bring improvements to the maintenance building, roadway seismic retrofits, completion of a parking structure and other upgrades and improvements to existing facilities and infrastructure.

The airport had $241 million in bond debt as of June 30, 2012, according to its annual report released Jan. 14.

It has AA-minus ratings from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s and an Aa3 rating from Moody’s Investors Service.

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