How grounded airlines are actually keeping jobs alive in Clinton County

Posted at 10:04 PM, Apr 25, 2020

WILMINGTON, Ohio — As airports have emptied out, airlines have grounded hundreds of planes they can't fill amid the coronavirus pandemic. Despite all of this, one silver lining can be found at a small airfield in Clinton County.

Delta Airlines has grounded more than 650 planes for the time being as travel has stalled. Nearly 40 of those planes are currently parked at the Wilmington Air Park in Clinton County.

For the last three weeks, the air park has housed three dozen Delta planes, and around 20 additional planes belonging to DHL, UPS and even the New England Patriots.

"No one expected this many aircraft to be on the ground," said Dan Evers, executive director of the Clinton County Port Authority.

While the grounded planes may represent difficulties for airline companies, it's been an unexpected boon for the Wilmington Air Park's 2,500 employees, all of whom have remained steadily employed, since even grounded planes require maintenance and protection from the elements. Evers said none of the air park's employees have been furloughed or fired during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If anything, the hours have been a little longer over the last month," said Evers.

But with the nature of the job, only 100 employees are able to effectively work from home, so Evers said they've had to put a lot of extra thought into how to keep employees at the air park safe while they work.

"Particularly on aviation side, and the logistics and airport operations side ... going to staggered shifts, realigning the workspace, where folks can work virtually," he said.

He estimated the air park could possible accommodate anywhere from 50 to 80 more planes, but he said he hopes it doesn't come to that. While the air park is grateful for the additional work, he said, he hopes for the sake of the greater good, that the current guest aircraft lodged there are just short-term guests.