AVOCA, Pennsylvania – The airline industry faces yet another setback amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is obviously the most difficult time that airports across the country have to face in my opinion,” said Derek Martin, executive director of the Erie Regional Airport Authority.
For months, airports have faced a drop in the number of people as fewer people travel due to the coronavirus.
“I think back to the start of the year before it happened and we were on a record pace. We were going to pass 300,000 people through this airport. But today boardings immediately dropped 95%, resulting in less revenue for the airport, ”said Carl Beardsley, executive director of Wilkes-Barre / Scranton International Airport in Pennsylvania.
“It has a more devastating effect on smaller airports,” Martin said.
The latest setback has a major impact on small airports. On July 8, Delta suspended flights for 11 of them across the country for about three months.
Delta’s senior vice president of domestic airport operations, Sandy Gordon, said in a statement that “the suspension of operations at these airports will reduce costs where customer demand is low.
Beardsley hopes this is a temporary change.
“You know a few months ago we were really on the move, we had about 22 flights [per day.] And now we have about six flights. So you can see there’s a huge contrast between where he was and where he is today, ”she said.
At a five-hour drive in Erie, Pa., Martin isn’t sure the service will restart in time.
“We are preparing for them not to come back after the end of September, and it all depends on what happens with COVID,” he said.
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The two airports in Pennsylvania are among 11 smaller airports that no longer offer Delta flights. They still offer American and United flights.
“Delta was our biggest carrier that we lost. They held 42 percent of the airport service market share, ”Martin said.
Martin, who has worked at different airports and airlines for over 20 years, believes the financial impact on smaller airports could be long term.
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“This incident is worse than September 11. Then the airline industry was put on hold by the government for three or four days, ”he said. We knew what the problem was – the problem was that the terrorists, you know, basically wanted to attack America. It took a while for things to get back to normal, but they got back to normal. This pandemic… no one knows what’s going to happen.
According to a press release issued by Delta, the suspension at airports in 11 US cities is expected to last until the end of September. The service could potentially restart in October.