Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) officials knew that the passenger traffic numbers would be bad for April.
However, when those stats were released on Tuesday, May 26, they were worse than anyone could imagine. In April of this year, passenger traffic was down 98 percent over April of 2019.
PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker delivered the news during a May 26 online meeting of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority conducted using Zoom. When Baker began to deliver his report, his microphone was muted. When the problem was pointed out to Baker and his audio was streaming again, Baker warned that, given the nature of what he was about to say, it may have been better if his audio had remained muted.
“Frankly,” I hope this is the worst report I ever deliver,” Baker told the Airport Authority members before announcing that the April falloff was absolutely horrendous.
He said that Saturday, April 18 was the rock bottom day for PTIA. On that day only 75 passengers used the airport.
“In the past, that would be the number flying on one regional jet,” Baker told the board.
He said the coronavirus pandemic had been devastating to the airport’s business, as it had been in other places.
“We’re just having to ride this wave and see where things are going,” he added.
Cargo flights at PTIA also fell off sharply in April. Those flights were down 40 percent compared to April of last year.
Baker did say there was some reason to be hopeful now because the numbers have been picking up since that rock bottom day in mid-April. He said the passenger traffic was now back up to about 500 passengers a day and – now that the state and other parts of the country were opening back up, the number of passengers seemed to be steadily on the rise.
He said the next goal was to get to 1,000 passengers a day.