News

Local airports report less traffic due to COVID-19 pandemic

Local airports have been hurting for business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to tight travel restrictions, less people than normal are flying and utilizing the airports during a time that is typically the busy season. (Gretchen Teske, The Union)
Local airports have been hurting for business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to tight travel restrictions, less people than normal are flying and utilizing the airports during a time that is typically the busy season. (Gretchen Teske, The Union)

Although spring and summer are typically the busy season for local airports, numbers have been down and fewer flights are leaving the runway due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been open the whole time but we’ve been impacted greatly by the virus,” said Bob Lyons, manager at the Fairfield Municipal Airport.

Mike Maxted, manager at the Washington Municipal Airport, reported a similar lack in activity.

“Our traffic has been steady to down,” he said.

Maxted said he feels people are not traveling as they normally would due to virus concerns. With social distancing and shelter-in-place orders in effect globally, the urge to fly has been stifled by safety concerns.

The majority of traffic at the Fairfield airport is connected to corporations in the area, Lyons said. Two jets are stationed there and jet traffic contributes greatly to the revenue of the facility. On average 10-15 per month visit the airport but Lyons said that number has dwindled to just a couple most recently.

Meetings being canceled and business leaders not meeting in person has slowed traffic considerably. On Wednesday, Lyons said there had only been one corporate plane arrive in the last 45 days.

“The volume that we used to have before the virus just has not come back,” he said.

Maxted said the Washington airport often gets busy the last week of July when visitors stop to fuel up before heading north to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh air show in Oshkosh, Wis. Throughout the week, a little more than 300 planes stop but with the air show now canceled, Maxted anticipates a quiet summer than normal.

“Usually summer is really busy but like I said, traffic has slowed,” he said.

However, good news has come in the form of a relief package from the Federal Aviation Administration where airports in Fairfield, Washington and Mt. Pleasant all received $30,000 to go toward airport operations and utilities, as previously reported. Lyons said this has been a help and staff are continuing to pursue grants.