Airport Traffic Slowly Grows thru June

07/08/2020

Passenger traffic at the Durango Airport dropped to just 5 percent of average when the pandemic hit La Plata in March. It’s slowly inching back up as passengers feel more comfortable about airline travel.

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7/8/20 Airport RecoveryTHE DURANGO LA PLATA COUNTY AIRPORT WAS LOOKING AT A RECORD-BREAKING YEAR OF PASSENGER TRAVEL IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY. AND THEN, THE PANDEMIC ARRIVED. BUT AIRPORT OFFICIALS ARE CONFIDENT THAT AIR TRAVEL IN AND OUT OF DURANGO WILL RETURN TO ITS PREVIOUS VOLUME, IT'S JUST GOING TO TAKE A WHILE. YOU'RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK, BROUGHT TO YOU BY FAST SIGNS OF DURANGO. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE. AIRPORT PASSENGER TRAVEL IN AND OUT OF DURANGO WAS BOOMING IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2020. IN FACT, PASSENGER VOLUME WAS 15 PERCENT HIGHER THAN THE SAME PERIOD THE YEAR BEFORE. BUT WHEN THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ARRIVED AND COLORADO GOVERNOR JARED POLIS SHUT DOWN THE STATE, PASSENGER TRAFFIC DROPPED TO AN ANEMIC 5 PERCENT OF NORMAL. IT'S GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME, BUT AIRPORT DIRECTOR TONY VICARI SAYS THE FASTER THAT AIRLINES AND AIRPORTS CAN MAKE THE TRAVELING PUBLIC FEEL SAFE, THE QUICKER THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY WILL RECOVER. SAFETY STARTS AT THE AIRPORT, WHERE VICARI, AIRPORT STAFF, AND VENDORS HAVE DEVELOPED SOCIAL-DISTANCING PROTOCOLS TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC.
IT'S CERTAINLY A NEW GROUND FOR US TO COVER HERE. SO WE KNOW WE'RE DOING OUR BEST TO FOLLOW AS MANY GUIDELINES AS WE HAVE AVAILABLE. WE'RE ABIDING BY LOCAL SAN JUAN BASIN HEALTH GUIDANCE IN TERMS OF LOCAL INPUT. WE'RE A SELF-CERTIFIED CRITICAL BUSINESS WITH SAN JUAN BASIN HEALTH, AND HERE AT THE AIRPORT, WE'VE PUT INTO PLACE SNEEZE GUARDS AT ALL COUNTER STATIONS ACROSS THE ENTIRE TERMINAL. WE HAVE A LOT OF SIGNAGE THROUGHOUT THE BUILDING INDICATING THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL DISTANCING AND CONTINUING TO MODEL SAFE BEHAVIORS FROM HAND-WASHING TO HAND SANITIZING, ET CETERA, WE'VE ADDED AND INSTALLED NUMEROUS NEW HAND SANITIZING STATIONS. WE HAVE FLOOR DECALS ALL THROUGHOUT THE TERMINAL DESIGNED TO KEEP FOLKS DISTANCED AS THEY STAND IN VARIOUS CUES AT THE AIRLINE TICKET COUNTER OR TSA BOARDING GATES, RENTAL CARS, ET CETERA. ON THAT FRONT, OUR CUSTODIAL STAFF, WE DO HAVE A FULL-TIME CUSTODIAL STAFF HERE AT THE AIRPORT HAS BEEN, YOU KNOW, PROVIDING EXTRA CARE WITH DISINFECTING HIGH-TOUCH SURFACES AND TRYING TO MAKE OUR FACILITIES AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE FOR TRAVEL. ON THAT FRONT, WE FEEL PRETTY CONFIDENT WITH THE MEASURES WE'VE PUT FORTH. AND THANKFULLY, WE'VE HAD NO INSTANCES OF ANY AIRPORT STAFF OR PASSENGERS BEING, YOU KNOW, TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19. UNITED AIRLINES CUT BACK FLIGHTS TO DENVER TO TWO A DAY. AMERICAN AIRLINES OFFERS ONE DAILY FLIGHT EACH TO DALLAS FORT WORTH AND TO PHOENIX. ALL AIRPORT SERVICES, INCLUDING FOOD AND BEVERAGE, THE GIFT SHOP, AND CAR RENTALS, ARE AVAILABLE WHEN AIRLINES ARE ON THE TARMAC. BOTH AIRLINES ARE EXPECTED TO ADD MORE FLIGHTS IN JULY AND AUGUST. VICARI SAID TRAVELERS ARE SLOWLY GAINING CONFIDENCE WITH PASSENGER TRAFFIC  INCHING ITS WAY BACK UP TO ABOUT 25 PERCENT OF AVERAGE IN JUNE. ULTIMATELY, THE COURSE OF THE PANDEMIC WILL DETERMINE HOW QUICKLY THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY RECOVERS.
IT IS GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME. IT WILL BE A MULTI-YEAR RECOVERY, MOST LIKELY FOR OUR INDUSTRY IN PARTICULAR. AND YOU KNOW, THE FEAR OBVIOUSLY IS ESSENTIALLY THAT THAT PROCESS TAKES AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME. RIGHT NOW, YOU KNOW, NOT SURPRISINGLY, THERE'S A LACK OF CONSUMER CONFIDENCE IN A NUMBER OF INDUSTRIES, AND OURS IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THEM IN AIR TRAVEL, AND I UNDERSTAND THE HESITANCE FROM PEOPLE TO WANT TO FLY. OBVIOUSLY, THERE'S THE POTENTIAL FOR BEING, YOU KNOW, IN A MORE ENCLOSED SPACE AND, AND HAVE THOSE POTENTIAL RISKS THAT ARE OUT THERE. THAT'S, YOU KNOW, VERY MUCH A PERSONAL DECISION FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL CONSUMER TO MAKE BASED ON THEIR COMFORT LEVEL, HEALTH CONDITION AND THEIR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. BUT IT ALL, IT'S OUR, DEFINITELY OUR HOPE THAT TECHNOLOGICAL EVOLUTIONS, MEDICAL ADVANCEMENTS, AND THE OVERALL SORT OF RESILIENCE OF OUR POPULATION WILL ULTIMATELY LEAD TO, YOU KNOW, A RESUMPTION OF, OF AIR TRAVEL SOMEWHERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF WHAT WE'RE USED TO SEEING.IF YOU'D LIKE TO KNOW THE LATEST UPDATES ON FLIGHT SCHEDULES AT THE DURANGO AND LA PLATA COUNTY AIRPORT, VISIT FLY DURANGO DOT COM. THANKS FOR WATCHING THIS EDITION OF THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE.

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