Springfield-Branson National Airport travel numbers down 50% in 2020
Travel numbers were down 66% in June compared to 2019 numbers.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Experts with the International Air Transport Association expect a slow recovery for the air travel industry, saying it will take until 2024 to return to pre-pandemic levels.
The Springfield-Branson National Airport is feeling that sting, too. Kent Boyd with the airport said the number of travelers in 2020 is down 50%. In June alone, the number of travelers is down 66% from June of last year.
“I’ll tell ‘ya, I think there’s just a lot of crystal ball gazing,” said Boyd when asked how long it would take the airport to rebound from the pandemic slump. “To kind of put things in perspective, it took this air-market about four-years to recover from the Great Recession, and the economic impact of the Great Recession doesn’t hold a candle to the impact of COVID-19.”
Boyd said the only true time-table is the virus. “People ask me, ‘What’s your business going to be like?’ and I say ‘I don’t know, look at the trend-line for the virus, that’s a pretty good indication.”
In the meantime, the industry is also waiting to see if business travelers ever come back. Boyd explained they’re the main money makers for airlines. “The business traveler will pay the premium fare, the leisure traveler will not,” he said. “‘Does it mean that the business flyer is now the person who does a Zoom meeting rather than jump on an airplane?’”
If business travelers don’t return, leisure travelers can expect price hikes.
Furthermore, if travel numbers remain low, it could hurt the people who work at the airport. “If the virus tends or continues to go up and stay up the rest of the year there’s the possibility we will see layoffs.”
The Springfield-Branson National Airport hauled in more than $9 million in federal aid at the start of the pandemic. Boyd said with that money came the stipulation that there’d be no layoffs until December, if any at all.
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