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Local airport turned into ghost town during pandemic

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — With travel restrictions in full swing, airports around the country are seeing a massive decline in passengers and travelers.

And the Springfield-Branson National Airport is no different.

KOLR 10’s Frances Lin reports, the number of passengers is down 95%.

Usually, there are about 1,500 people who come through the airport daily.

And now, it’s down to about 100 a day.

“It’s like this in every airport in the country,” said Kent Boyd, airport spokesperson at the Springfield-Branson National Airport, “I hate to use the old cliche, but it’s basically a ghost town.”

“It was a little eerie. A little different,” said Nicole Bristow, a traveler.

“The airplanes are lucky they have 10 people on them,” Boyd said.

“The flights were pretty empty. My Atlanta flight to Dallas was about 10, 12 people,” said Bristow.

Bristow traveled to Springfield to help take care of a family member.

“Coming in and out of Atlanta, quite a bit, being from the area, it’s usually really really crowded, the security lines are long, today there were about two people ahead of me in line,” said Bristow, “most of the restaurants and stuff were shut down. There wasn’t a whole lot of option to get food or drink.”

And Boyd says businesses in the Springfield airport also cut down staff members.

“We know there have been layoffs at the rental car agencies, furloughs with the gift store, the restaurant, there’s one gift store and one restaurant open now, and they’re running barebone staff,” Boyd said, “typically, the rental car lots at this airport are nearly empty. Right now, they’re completely full. If you go out and look on the west side of the terminal building, you can see rental cars to the horizon.”

He said the airport is expected to be okay, financially, “we do have very good cash reserves, and other sources of income and the federal government is promising money for airports to help them. We’ve already gone through three quarters of our fiscal year with lots and lots of money and revenue because past year incomes were so good, so that’s going to provide a cushion for the last quarter of our fiscal year.”

And passengers are curious to see how the airports will be after the pandemic.

“It’s a sure thing that by the time this crisis is over, the aviation industry in the united states and across the world is going to be much much different than it is today,” said Boyd.

“It kind of brought it all home. Just to see how real this all is,” said Bristow.

The airport is also putting projects on hold, such as an addition of entrance and exit lanes of a new parking lot.

The airport won’t be doing that right now because it costs a couple of million dollars.

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