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.
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.
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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