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HEBRON, Ky. — The baggage carousels were noticeably empty Thursday afternoon at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. So were the flights.
The coronavirus pandemic, which prompted government officials at all levels to warn people away from air travel even before businesses and schools began to close, has driven passenger numbers down by over 50%, according to the Transportation Security Aministration.
“Reports from passengers that planes are 20-30% full,” CVG spokesman Seth Cutter said. “So some of those national trends are playing out here at CVG.”
It’s a sharp decline for an airport that saw a record 9 million passengers in 2019 and hoped for 9.4 million in 2021.
Now, Cutter said, CVG is focusing on ensuring the airport is sanitary by consolidating the number of open gates and restrooms, sanitizing high-touch surfaces constantly and closing some of its restaurants to comply with government guidance.
Some non-essential workers have also begun to work from home to minimize person-to-person contact.
Cutter encouraged would-be passengers to monitor their own health closely and cancel or reschedule flights if they begin to feel sick.
“If someone feels sick, do not fly,” he said. “We ask that folks stay home. Work with your airlines. These airlines are responding in real time. Many are waiving change fees for the foreseeable future as the situation unfolds.”
He also acknowledged that a drop in traffic could mean financial challenges for CVG.
“A lot of airport revenues depend on passenger volumes coming in and out of our doors,” he said. “One of the sources of funding for our consolidated rental car facility does depend on how many people are actually taking out rental cars.”
Lately, not many are.