SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s been over two months since South Dakota had its first case of COVID-19. Ever since, people have begun to practice social distancing and are staying home. The virus has impacted many businesses, and the Sioux Falls Regional Airport is no exception.
The airport is predicting a $5 million cut in revenue for the year, and had a 95% drop in the number of passengers for the month of April.
However, things are slowly changing. Dan Letellier is the Executive Director of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport. He says 50 to 60 people a day were flying out a few weeks ago; now the airport is seeing over 100.
“But that’s a far cry from 1,600+ people a day that we normally should see this time of year. But, it’s slowly inching back, but it’s going to take a long time to recover,” Letellier said.
Other airports are seeing a decrease in travelers as well. You can read more about that from KELOLAND’s Grant Sweeter, in the story below.
Previously, the airport administration was looking at installing a parking garage. So many people were traveling through FSD that the parking lots were overflowing. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the timeline of that project.
“There’s two ways to look at it. One, will we need it as soon as we could have used it before. We had in our capital plans to design the garage this year and construct it in 2022. If we’re looking at, at least a three year recovery, the need for that is pushed back at least a year,” Letellier said.
The executive director went on to look at the bright side. He said perhaps with the competitive upcoming construction market, the airport parking garage could possibly be constructed for less.
Letellier also said the board is looking at all their projects to see if anything else should be shifted around, but the parking garage is the biggest one they are in the midst of at the moment.
As far as what the Sioux Falls Regional Airport is doing now? They are following CDC guidelines and social distancing measures. Letellier said no one is required to wear masks, but he thinks organizations will soon start enforcing them. He went on to say that, so far, the airport is not doing any health screenings right now, but he thinks those could be utilized down the road too. But, some airlines are conducting health screenings of their own.
“Frontier, for example, is doing temperature checks prior to boarding. To make sure nobody has a fever is just one way to do a wellness check. Make sure (that) everybody on board are well,” Letellier said.
According to Letellier flight schedules have been trimmed back 50-60%. He said he’s anxious for the day everyone returns to the skies.