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Missoula International Airport seeing impacts of coronavirus concerns

Missoula International Airport Inside
Posted at 2:14 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 16:14:44-04

MISSOULA — The airline industry has taken a big hit with the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Missoula International Airport is a testament to that fact.

March and April are typically a busy time as many leave Missoula during spring break while snowbirds began flying in for the warmer months ahead.

But this spring, the airport looks like a virtual ghost town thanks to ramped up restrictions and fears about the spread of COVID-19.

“The trend has certainly been downward. We’re averaging about 100 passengers a day now across all airlines and all flights,” Missoula International Airport Director Cris Jensen told MTN News.

Thanks to less airport foot traffic in Missoula, across the country and around the world, air carriers are having to make unprecedented adjustments -- including greatly reducing the number of flights to fill seats.

“The airlines are scrambling just like we all are. What we’re seeing is, we’re seeing a daily kind of ad hoc canceling of flights if you will,” Jensen said.

“I think their goal is to generally try to consolidate passengers into a single flight so instead of four daily Seattle flights, you might just see one," he added.

Jensen explained the impact of the reduction of passengers and flights has brought a sudden adjustment in revenue, budgeting, and staff hours.

“This affects us across all areas of the operation. Pretty radical changes unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” Jensen said.

He also expects the reduction in flights and passengers will continue through April and May.

Jensen added that when we do come out on the other side of this difficult time, he hopes people are ready to travel and enjoy those things they can’t right now.