Phoenix airport sees almost 50% drop in number of travelers due to coronavirus


After two record-breaking years of passenger traffic in March, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport saw a 47% decrease in the number of travelers last month, thanks to travel restrictions and concerns caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.

a person walking in the rain: A woman walks past closed businesses at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Terminal 4 on April 24, 2020. Many businesses inside the terminal are closed due to the statewide lockdown under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two million fewer passengers used Sky Harbor last month compared to March 2019, reports The Arizona Republic, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.

March is a busy month for travel in Arizona, with people going on spring break and coming to the Valley for Major League Baseball’s spring training, conventions and other reasons.

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But this spring, airlines have been canceling hundreds of flights per day in the wake of recommendations to avoid discretionary travel, stay-at-home orders and the cancellation of public gatherings.

What Sky Harbor’s March 2020 numbers show

March 2019 saw a record 4.5 million passengers arriving at and departing from Sky Harbor Airport. This broke the previous March record set in 2018, when 4.3 million  passengers traveled.

In March 2020, Sky Harbor had just 2.4 million passengers. Despite that sharp drop, the airport was one of the busiest in the U.S. on March 26, Director of Aviation Services James Bennett told the Phoenix City Council that day.

The numbers for April will almost certainly be worse.

a large body of water with a mountain in the background: As a result of travel restrictions and concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport saw a 47% decrease in the number of travelers last month.

There have been widespread domestic flight cancellations and in April, several international routes were suspended, including American Airlines’ and British Airways’ flights to London, most of Southwest Airlines’ international flights and Volaris’ operations between Phoenix and Mexico. 

Condor and Lufthansa Airlines’ Eurowings brand were scheduled to start their seasonal service to Frankfurt, Germany, in April but that has been delayed indefinitely.

Bennett told the City Council in March that he expects the impact of the coronavirus on Sky Harbor to last a couple of years. His conservative forecast showed the airport likely won’t see record-breaking numbers again until 2023.

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