LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The month of April was a time of stark decline for Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport as air travelers stayed home because of the coronavirus.
A 94 to 96% reduction in passengers at airport security screening nationally was reported by TSA in the month of April.
Louisville Regional Airport Authority (LRAA) Public Relations Director Natalie Chaudoin said the numbers mirror traffic in Louisville. But like the heavyweight champion in its name, Louisville’s airport is looking for signs of a comeback.
“Since the month of May though we are seeing a slight improvement in numbers according to the national TSA throughput data,” Chaudoin said. “It looks like screenings are down only about 92% or so and we believe SDF is along those lines given some parking data we have in the last week or so.”
On Monday, one passenger described the airport as a “ghost town.” There are so few people in the spacious public areas that social distancing is not a problem.
“I think this is a very stressful time right now,” arriving passenger Tony Esposito said. “I think that people are very stressed. There's a lot of uncertainty out there and I don't anticipate the travel will ramp back up to where it was recently.”
New plexiglass screens have been installed at airline check-in anticipating a return of passengers.
LRAA reported the airport’s biggest year in 2019 with 4.2 million passengers and American launched daily non-stop flights to Los Angeles. That flight is now suspended along with other routes from other airlines.
With most states currently in varying stages of re-opening, the question is when will passengers come back?
“I don’t know that we know for sure exactly what the next few months are going to look like,” Chaudoin said, “as the airlines continue to shuffle that schedule. We know we’re not going to be at the same capacity we were at a year ago at this time.”