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After Turbulent 2020, Regional Air Travel Rebounding

Brian Bull

Regional air travel is inching up towards pre-pandemic levels, including at the Eugene Airport.

About a year ago as COVID-19 cases spread across the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere, passenger jets became less full, and concourses got emptier and quieter. 

Cathryn Stephens, Acting Airport Director for the Eugene Airport, recalled the pandemic’s effects on 2020 travel.

“Right around March is when we really started to see a drop in passengers, and of course by April we were down to 5% of our normal passenger numbers," she told KLCC. 

"So we’ll be comparing back to 2019 numbers for a while until we reach full recovery.”

Stephens said right now, local air travel is at about 51% of 2019 levels, ahead of the national rate of 45%.  She said thanks to CARES Act funding, the Eugene Airport has not had to lay off workers. She’s also optimistic that with President Biden’s aim to have all adults vaccinated by the end of May, that more travelers will take to the skies.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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