There’s a joke about a man who fell off a 100-story building, and, after the first 99 floors of the fall, he said to himself, “Well, so far so good.”
That may pretty much be the situation for officials at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) – which just received flight and passenger stats for February 2020. Those numbers show that, in February of this year, the airport continued the trend it has seen for years, a steady increase of passengers. However, the airport officials are well aware that, while the just released numbers weren’t bad, that’s all about to change since airline traffic around the country fell off drastically in March.
PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker said this week that there was nothing shocking in the airport’s most recent stats, but he added that it’s likely to be the last good report until the novel coronavirus subsides.
“The passenger numbers for February were about what we expected, and were once again strong – up over 6 percent,” Baker said. “Sadly, this will be the end of a long streak of positive growth.”
Like everyone else in the country, Baker is hoping that the American economy – and air traffic – will jump back into strong pre-virus mode quickly once the national threat is mitigated.
“Hopefully, we’re past this soon and the country is re-started,” Baker said.
That 6 percent increase applies to both the 2020 year-to-date stats, versus those in 2019, as well as applying to the month-to-month numbers, which compare February 2020 with February 2019.
That 6 percent increase looks OK, but the growth in airport passengers could have been much stronger if not for the coronavirus. PTIA officials will never know what the numbers would have been.
Cargo flights at PTIA were down, uncharacteristically, 7 percent in February of 2020 compared with that same month in 2019.
At the time of the February report, airline flights in and out of PTIA were expected to be down by about 3 percent in May of 2020, compared to May of 2019 – however, given the extreme nature of the crisis, those numbers may turn out to be worse than anticipated.