Less travelers taking to the airlines this holiday as virus surges

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Travelers are taking to the skies and flying out of town for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, but things will look a little different with COVID-19 surging across the country.

Airport officials said those who fly out of Peoria International Airport (PIA) will not see a full parking lot this year as flights have dropped considerably.

Last month, 27,000 people flew in and out of PIA which is about half the normal number.

Many airlines are limiting the number of passengers on a given flight as a means to socially distance onboard. Director of Airports Gene Olson said the virus is primarily to blame as the demand to fly isn’t as high this year.

“The number of flights has decreased by about half so a year ago we were probably seeing around 35 flights a day, that includes both in and out and now we’re seeing somewhere around 15 flights a day,” Olson said.

Olson said the months of November and December are generally slower than other months, but there’s one week of a higher influx. He expects this November to be around the same amount of fliers as October.

“I’m expecting our travel volumes to kind of be in that 25,000-27,000 range. If it’s higher than that I’ll be really tickled, but again that’s half of normal,” Olson said.

Olson said the busier months at PIA are March and April depending on spring break and then June and July for summer vacations.

PIA received over $6.5 million from the CARES Act which Olson said is keeping the operations going.

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