MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — Harrisburg Int’l Airport had its best month of the COVID-19 era in October, based on a newly-finalized monthly report seen Friday by ABC27. Passenger traffic is, however, down by more than half: down 62 percent compared to October 2019.
The glass-half-full version: Passenger traffic rebounded to 38 percent of year-ago levels, up from just 4 percent in the worst month this year, April, when just 5,030 people used the airport. In October, 53,558 people used the airport.
An airline-by-airline look at October passenger declines at Harrisburg Int’l:
AirlineOctober 2019 passengersOctober 2020 passengersDown how much?American61,23124,092-60.7%Delta29,1519,832-66.3%United23,7948,077-66.1%Allegiant18,94510,792-43.0%Frontier6,605765-88.4%Harrisburg Int’l (MDT) overall139,72653,558-61.7%(Source: ABC27 analysis of airport data)
The decision to fly or not has to do with questions beyond airplanes and airports, an airport official said.
“People are getting more confident in flying,” said Scott Miller, the airport’s spokesman. “But the challenge is, all these state quarantines are that are being put in, and restrictions, are kind of making some other people nervous.”
Miller noted that October is typically the airport’s busiest month. That’s unusual among U.S. airports, which tend to peak during busy summer and holiday travel periods. But because of the lack of holidays in October, October is a strong month for business travel.
Midstate families use the airport for outbound leisure travel, but because Harrisburg isn’t a major leisure destination, it doesn’t peak during holiday travel periods (when leisure travel is strong and business travel is soft). That means the airport relies more than other airports on business-travel demand, such as from the companies headquartered or with large operations here, or those from elsewhere doing business with them.
With leisure-destination attractions either closed or offering fewer hours and services than usual, and with business travel a shadow of its former self (due to slashed corporate travel budgets and companies reluctant to expose their employees to any risks of travel), family-visit travel has rebounded more quickly than other purposes of travel.