You can also expect to add more flights when passengers return to Willard Airport.transportation

SAVOY — Willard Airport Executive Director looks forward to more travel during the next vacation, but admits that after a 74% reduction in passengers due to a pandemic, there is a long way to go before a full recovery. increase. ..

“We expect more travel during the holidays,” said Tim Banon. “Last year, most of the country was blocked by a pandemic. With vaccinations deployed nationwide, vacation trips could increase significantly year by year.”

In 2019, Willard’s plane had 105,559 passengers. By 2020, it had dropped to 35,874 passengers. (Airplane boarding means boarding an aircraft by a profitable passenger, including the original boarding, stopover, or transit boarding of the aircraft).

Banon predicts that the number of planes in 2021 will reach 46,000 by the end of the year. That’s a 28% increase from 2020, but still less than half the number in 2019. Due to reduced demand, American Airlines, the only airline servicing the University of Illinois-owned airports, has reduced daily flight departures.

Earlier this month, the airline ended service to Charlotte, North Carolina.

“It was a shame to lose Charlotte’s flight because we felt it worked well for our market and wanted to keep it,” Banon said. “Unfortunately, our passenger numbers were too low for the flight. We hope that the route will be reassessed in 2022 and restored when passenger demand for the route returns.”

Flight to Chicago and Dallas-Fort. Value still occurs every day.

“I still think the airport is recovering and on the rise. This is a good indicator of a better time to come,” Banon said.

Willard isn’t the only airport affected by the pandemic, but it was hit harder than most airports because it’s primarily for business travelers. The projected loss of income in 2020 was more than $ 500,000.

Bloomington’s Central Illinois Regional Airport lost about $ 2 million in revenue, with passengers down 70% in 2020.

Peoria International Airport estimates a loss of nearly $ 1 million and reports a 69% reduction in passenger numbers after the pandemic.

“The majority of commercial airports across the country have been struggling for the past 18 months,” Banon said. “Travel demand has declined significantly overall and the types of travelers have changed. Airports and destinations focused on leisure travel are primarily business travel, as leisure travel is stable throughout the pandemic. Much better than the airports supported by.

“Willard Airport primarily supports business trips, which has significantly reduced travel and has been hit harder than other airports in the region. As travel continues to grow, passenger numbers are improving. . “

Last year, the airport received $ 1.8 million under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Financial Security) for airport capital expenditures, airport operating costs and airport debt payments.

Banon called the funding to keep the airport fully functional during the pandemic a “significant bailout.” This money was used for operating expenses such as staff salaries, maintenance, safety, security and other necessary expenses.

During the deceleration, the road at the entrance to the airport was rebuilt and other airfield projects were completed. This is partly due to the additional funding.

But I couldn’t save everything. Bankrupt Hertz closed the facility and Einstein Bagles temporarily closed, but recently reopened.

“Currently, we are open every day except Tuesdays and Saturdays,” says Banon. “The feedback from the passengers was great.

“The next move is to continue to recover to normal flight schedules,” he added. “Currently, passenger demand is shortening our flight schedules. Once we’re back at 2019 levels, we can push destinations for other flights at that point.”

Prior to the pandemic, there was a discussion about adding Washington DC as a destination.

“Washington DC is still working. We believe there is a great demand in Champaign County to maintain profitable round-trip flights, at least every day,” he said.

“We continue to meet with airlines on a regular basis to discuss Washington, DC, but it’s up to the airlines to add destinations in the end.”

You can also expect to add more flights when passengers return to Willard Airport.transportation

Source link You can also expect to add more flights when passengers return to Willard Airport.transportation

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