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Cincinnati airport gets $43M in federal aid but Allegiant leaves flyers in lurch

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Posted at 6:31 AM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 06:46:58-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

HEBRON, Ky. – There was good news for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Tuesday and potentially bad news for Tri-Staters planning to fly its major carrier in the next few months.

CVG learned it will get a $43 million infusion from the federal government at the same time as Allegiant, the discount airline that helped the rebirth of Cincinnati’s airport in the previous decade, announced major cuts in service nationwide as the industry struggles with a deep loss of passengers due to COVID-19.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the aid to CVG through the CARES Act. He said CVG will get 56% of the $77.2 million earmarked for 55 Kentucky airports. Louisville ($22 million) and Lexington ($9.6 million) get the next biggest shares.

“CVG, like all airports and businesses across the country, has been hit hard by the pandemic,” airport CEO Candace McGraw said in a statement released by McConnell’s office. “I am truly grateful for the leadership of Sen. Mitch McConnell to include airport funding in the CARES Act … Airport relief funds provided by the CARES Act are a lifeline to allow airports to remain operational.”

However, Allegiant passengers were left in the lurch by the airline’s announcement that it "anticipates reducing airline capacity by 80 to 90 percent during April and May, with additional schedule reductions to come for the summer travel season.”

Allegiant flies to more than 20 cities from CVG.

Contacted by WCPO 9, neither Allegiant nor CVG would release which flights or how many Allegiant is cutting here. They said Tri-Staters planning to fly that airline need to check their flight status on the airline's website, allegiantair.com.

A CVG spokesperson, Seth Cutter, told WCPO 9 in an email:

“All airlines operating at CVG, including Allegiant, have seen dramatic decreases in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Each carrier has been and will continue to adjust their flight schedules very frequently based on current demand levels. Passengers should check with their carrier on flight status within 72 hours of departure, especially before heading to the airport.”

Likewise, an Allegiant spokesperson, Sonya Padgett, said:

“Those cuts have impacted all of the 130-plus markets we serve ... The best way to keep up-to-date is to check our website.”

A check of the Allegiant website shows no evidence that it is eliminating all service to any of the cities on the CVG flight list. Some flights are still scheduled, though it doesn’t note if any have been canceled.

Cutter did confirm that Allegiant’s plan to start service to Memphis in June has been changed. The start date is to be announced.

Delta, Air Canada and Vacation Express recently suspended their limited international service at CVG. Delta still provides mainland service at CVG along with American, Frontier, Southwest and United.

“Even if you find another source that indicates a carrier has temporarily suspended service to a market, we have not heard from any carriers that any temporary suspensions will become permanent,” Cutter said.

WCPO reported Monday that CVG has taken steps to cut expenses in operations and maintenance as traffic slowed to a crawl.

Allegiant opened business at CVG in 2014 with flights to southern vacation locales and expanded its seasonal and year-round service over time to such cities as Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Austin. It had announced plans to start service to Denver in June.

Allegiant and other discount airlines revived passenger service at CVG after Delta pulled its hub.

The announcements by McConnell and Allegiant came on the same day that the federal government agreed to $25 billion in aid for the airline industry. The U.S. Treasury Department said it has reached agreements in principle with the major U.S. airlines for federal aid to pay workers and keep them employed through September.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:

Ohio

  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.

Kentucky

  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.

Indiana

  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail epiresource@isdh.in.gov
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.