Pictured above is one of the signs advising passengers flying out of the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport about the coronavirus. So far, the virus has not resulted in the a reduction of flights into and out of the airport, but the number of passengers using the airport last week was down about 33 percent from a year ago, according to airport direct Matt Leitner.
3/21/2020 7:30:00 AM Airport sees drop in passenger traffic due to COVID-19 Delta curtails up to 70 percent of flights, cut hasn't hit here yet
As the number of people traveling by air has dropped considerably due to restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport is seeing a drop in passengers flying into and out of the facility.
In an interview with the River News Wednesday, airport director Matt Leitner said the number of passengers coming into and out of the facility last week was down about 33 percent from the same week last year. Earlier in day, Delta Airlines announced it was temporarily halting up to 70 percent of its flights due to a drop in passenger traffic as a result of the pandemic, he added. This will result in 600 airplanes being idle, double what it had announced just five days earlier.
So far, Leitner said the two SkyWest daily flights into and out of the airport haven't been scaled back. SkyWest operates the flights in partnership with Delta.
"So far, they have not been impacted, but that changes minute-to-minute," Leitner noted.
He did say cleaning has been ramped up to do what can be done to protect the flying public.
"I spoke with our custodial organization that does our cleaning at night, we'll be ramping that up, disinfecting all of the surfaces," Leitner said. "They've been a really, really cooperative partner in ensuring that we're as proactive as possible in following the latest guidance when it comes to this (coronavirus). Furthermore, we've been talking about the new secure area; it does have bathrooms and Delta has been distributing hand wipes and sanitizer back there."
He added that there have always been hand sanitizing stations in the terminal, and steps have been taken to make sure that an adequate supplies to keep them filled.
If the county health department or state department of health services issues new directives, the airport stands ready to make whatever adjustments to their operations required, Leitner said.
"All they have done is issue guidance, which has been posted in the terminal," he said. "And I think it is incumbent on me to make sure that we're as agile and ready for whatever may come down, any kind of order or directive. We stand ready to assist and comply."
Leitner said he hasn't seen anything like this in his career, which includes working at Delta's corporate headquarters following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Leitner said Delta will reevaluate the third daily flight, set for this summer, at the end of April.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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