Dayton International Airport Part of a Trend of Dramatic Drops in Flights and Airfare
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a scourge on the global economy, perhaps no industry has been hit harder than the airline industry, especially in the United States. According to the Department of Transportation, airfare and passenger numbers are on a steep decline, “Airlines reported 11.5 million originating passengers in the second quarter of 2020, down from 87.2 million passengers a year earlier.”
Due to the plummeting numbers, airline companies say they have been forced to cut costs, particularly costs concerning labor. At the start of October, aviation juggernauts American Airlines and United made headlines after announcing a furlough for 32,000 employees. The former saying this was due to the failed federal COVID-19 relief package, which was supposed to include aid for the airline industry.
In an October 14 video conversation with CAPA Centre for Aviation, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker stated there was, “no anticipation at American Airlines that air travel demand will return to 2019 levels anytime in 2021, and probably for a year or two after that.” This sentiment echoing a trend seen in past economic crises.
In a CNN opinion piece authored by Philip Baggaley, the managing director at S&P Global Ratings, Baggaley writes, “airlines will, at best, scrape by this year and emerge from the effects of the pandemic in 2021 or 2022 with more debt and reduced earnings capacity.”
According to Baggaley, five years was the time it took for passenger traffic to recuperate after the Great Recession concluded in 2009.
The economic hit has been reflected in airports across the country. At the onset of the pandemic, passengers reported seeing deserted terminals and empty flights. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Dayton International Airport (DIA) saw an 80.5 percent drop in departing passengers in the second quarter of 2020.
The airport is now characterized by vacant parking garages and zero lines at check-in and at Transportation Security Administration screenings. There is still the possibility that the federal government can keep less busy airports, like DIA, afloat. In September, the Federal Aviation Administration awarded more than half a million dollars in funding to DIA as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.