Official: Little Rock airport may see 50% drop in air travel | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Official: Little Rock airport may see 50% drop in air travel

March 18, 2020 - 11:28 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The largest airport in Arkansas could see up to half of its passenger traffic reduced over the next two months as people limit travelling because of the coronavirus outbreak, a top official said.

Bryan Malinowski, executive director of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, said Tuesday that parking revenue has dropped by 21% in March compared with the same time last year, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. He added that the Little Rock airport's concession earnings have dropped by 25%.

"At the moment, I don't have any permanent (flight) cancellations," Malinowski told members of the city's Municipal Airport Commission at their monthly meeting. “But as this spools up, we'll see numbers that easily reach into 40% or 50% level over the next couple of months.”

The airport, also called Adams Field, served about 2.1 million passengers in 2019. Malinowski noted that leisure travel accounts for up to 70% of Clinton National's passenger traffic, which is why it can expect to see a considerable decline.

"The first thing people are doing is staying home and not travelling at all," Malinowski said. “We're seeing a lot of people just outright cancelling their flights.”

Malinowski ruled out layoffs for now, pointing out that the airport is financially stable and expressing optimism that the traffic reduction would be short-term.

"Our financials are very strong and our financial situation is such (that) we could operate the airport for a couple of years without having to consider that," he said.

U.S. airlines, which on Monday asked the federal government for $50 billion in rescue aid, have seen international travel dissipate as countries tighten their borders in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.

"The global pandemic to all airport flying schedules have our (airline) network planning officers working in pure survival mode right now," said Rachel Bader, air service development manager for Clinton National.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 210,000 people and killed more than 8,700. The illness caused by the virus, COVID-19, causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 81,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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