LANSING, Mich. — The Capital Region International Airport saw a 75 percent decline in passengers in 2020.
In a normal month, the airport would see close to 14,000 passengers, according to marketing manager Spencer Flynn.
"In the worst times of the pandemic, we got down to as low as 450 passengers per month, but now you know we're back to what I would say our current normal is, which is just over 4,000. So, we're seeing that number creep up slowly," Flynn said.
Kevin Wigginton flew back into Lansing Monday morning from Florida. He says he felt safe flying and thinks it's important people get out again.
"I think, with everybody, it's important to get people doing business as usual again to help our entire economy out," Wigginton said.
Last year, a $10 million federal grant helped the airport make sure there were no interruptions in service.
"It really gave us, you know, excuse the pun, but a little bit of runway to really figure out okay this is going to last a long time, how can we handle and be ready for that," Flynn said. "And with that money came a lot of regulations in terms of, you know, not laying anybody off, not reducing service and making sure that money went to continue service, continue employment and keep the economy going."
Flynn says they expect to get another federal grant but not nearly as large as the first.
Even though the airport isn't seeing nearly as many passengers, Flynn said cargo operations are going better than ever.
"We're Michigan's UPS hub, so we've seen a massive amount of cargo coming in and out. We were able to be a part of the crew that shipped out the first COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer," said Flynn.
As the airport looks to rebound in 2021, Flynn said, officials expect to see two waves: leisure travelers eager to go on vacation after months at home and, as the economy picks back up, business travelers, too.
"When it becomes 'safe' or at least when the most people feel comfortable traveling again, we expect to see a big influx of leisure travelers," he said. "That's something that has not been our bread and butter at this airport in the past. We usually cater mostly to business passengers. Of course, there are lots of families going on vacations as well, but they were never our main business."
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