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Waterloo Regional Airport feels pinch of COVID-19

Waterloo Regional Airport feels pinch of COVID-19

From the Coronavirus update Northeast Iowa series
  • Updated
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WATERLOO — The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused a dramatic drop in activity at the Waterloo Regional Airport.

“It’s pretty quiet out here,” said Airport Director Keith Kaspari. “Even for recreational, flight instruction, private and corporate and business aviation, it’s very quiet at ALO.”

American Airlines, Waterloo’s lone commercial air carrier, won’t submit a March report on passengers until early April. But a number of flights have been canceled due to a lack of demand and others are flying with just a few passengers.

“Just visually, I can tell you that this will be a very difficult month for us, and the worst month we’ve had as an airport operator in many years,” Kaspari said. “Our parking lot is virtually empty, as there are about five vehicles in our lot.”

Airlines across the U.S. have seen precipitous drops in passengers as the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down some international borders and led to recommendations from national health officials that residents avoid travel altogether to keep the disease from spreading.

Those able to secure flights in and out of Waterloo on American Airlines might find more issues with flights getting canceled at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

National reports indicate some airlines are considering grounding flights entirely.

Kaspari said the airport is tightening its belt as revenue from parking fees, passenger facility charges and landing fees are expected to fall.

While some domestic airports handling international flights are reportedly screening passengers for signs of COVID-19, the Waterloo airport has received no directives from the Federal Aviation Administration or local health officials to take such steps.

“While no special screening procedures are or have taken place, we are actively cleaning the terminal even more so than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kaspari said.

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