The Journal Gazette
Saturday, November 21, 2020 1:00 am

Airport expecting holiday travel dip

More planes coming in, but no booking figures: Official


The coronavirus pandemic will mean Fort Wayne International Airport won't be as busy this year as it usually is around Thanksgiving.

But it likely will be a bit busier than it has been in recent weeks, Joe Marana, director of airport operations and facilities, said Friday.

In October, airport traffic had risen to about 60% of 2019 levels, according to Transportation Safety Administration screening statistics, Marana said. Airport officials hoped traffic was recovering from a steep virus-related drop in March and April, but numbers have been dropping again in November, he said.

So, with Thanksgiving traditionally being a very busy time for travel, it's likely traffic will be up from earlier this month.

“I do know I have increased aircraft coming in,” Marana said. “But we don't have booking numbers.”

A recent federal recommendation may put a crimp in some air travel plans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended against travel around Thanksgiving, as the virus continues to spread widely around the nation. 

Both Allen County and much of Indiana this week entered what health officials call the red zone, or most serious zone, for the illness.

“We understand that people want to see their family and relatives and do it (Thanksgiving) as they've always done it. But this year we're asking them to limit their travel,” said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager during a news conference.

“The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members is coming to this family gathering and they could end up severely ill, hospitalized or dying. And we don't want that to happen,” he said.

Locally, airplane boardings dipped to their lowest point, 5,000, in April. They had recovered to more than 22,000 in October. No statistics are available yet for this month.

“We have no way of knowing whether people cancel their plans or not,” Marana said, referring to the CDC's Thanksgiving recommendation.

“We just know we're here, and we're doing our darnedest to keep the place clean and safe for travel,”  he said.

He added travelers should check with their airline and destination for coronavirus restrictions.

Some states and cities, including Chicago, have instituted 14-day quarantines for travelers.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Top headlines are sent daily