Airports begin to see return of passengers

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WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) — The sky has been pretty quiet for the past few months, and the chirping birds took over the sound of planes rumbling overhead. With the stay-at-home order and business shutdowns, the airline industry found themselves grounded.

The director of Huntington Tri-State Airport says business is on its way back.

"It just hit really hard, and we're seeing decreases of up to 95 percent,” said Huntington Tri-State Airport Director Brent Brown.

From Brown's experience working at an airport throughout the coronavirus pandemic, their primary commercial airlines, American and Allegiant, received an extensive amount of cancellations.

"For example, on the American flights, we’ve seen as little as one to two people on a flight," Brown said.” For Allegiant, we were seeing as little as 25 people on a 180 seat plane.”

With the extremely low demand for airfare, it has been typical to spend the same amount for a plane ticket as you would for a quick bite to eat.

"Before, you could fly to Myrtle Beach for $34 down and $34 to $40 back,” said Human Resources Director Ashley Draper. “Now you can book a ticket to Myrtle Beach for $15 down and $18 back."

Although the efforts of social distancing, masks, and sanitation have continued to be practiced by employees, Brent knew a sense of normalcy wouldn't start coming back for the airport until restrictions began to lift.

With the reopening of many beaches, Brown says the airport has seen an increase in flights during the past two weeks, and no more cancellations so far.

"They're taking advantage of those lower ticket prices over the counter,” Brown said. “You know, people are tired of being locked away at home and want to get back to that normalcy."

While it may take time to reach full capacity, many people are ready to transition back to a sense of normalcy while continuing to protect their health.