The downturn in airline travel amid the coronavirus pandemic could lead to years of decreased flights to fewer destinations, and a dramatic drop in building improvements, particularly at smaller airports like the ones in Kansas.
The number of passengers who boarded flights in Wichita this year has dropped 57% compared to 2019, the Kansas News Service reported.
At its lowest point in April – when monthly traffic was down 95% compared to the year before – there was a day when only 63 people flew out of Dwight D. Eisenhower Airport in Wichita.
Normally, the airport sees about 2,300 passengers a day, and a lot more during peak travel seasons.
Decreased revenue has led to slashed budgets and layoffs.
The airport let go its customer courtesy staff.
The parking lot operator closed the park-and-ride lot, and laid off some drivers.
Before the pandemic, the Wichita airport had seen seven straight years of growth.
Now, the airport hopes just to keep the routes it has.
There are currently only 22 daily departures, down from about 35 at the beginning of the year.
For smaller airports losing service is an even bigger concern.
Manhattan Regional Airport had three departing and three arriving flights from both Chicago and Dallas-Ft. Worth before the pandemic.
It’s now down to two each way from Dallas.
Boardings are down 56%.