PIA Starts a Strong 2020 – Now Preparing for Covid-19 Changes
General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport kicked off 2020 with 2 more record setting months. January finished with 51,436 passengers compared to the previous record of 48,847 in January 2017. February 2020 saw even more growth with a 7% increase over the previous high mark in February 2019 of 49,094, ending with a new high mark for the month of 52,825 passengers. Accompanying the strong numbers beginning 2020, March began with an additional 20 flights scheduled (132), over 2019's scheduled 112 departing flights.
Although the first two months of 2020 were a promising start to the year, the Covid-19 pandemic is changing all that. While the airlines have not yet reduced any scheduled flights from PIA, passenger loads are down significantly, with some flights departing with passenger numbers in the single digits. The airlines have announced significant cuts to their overall system wide capacity, and it is only a matter of time before schedule reductions happen at PIA.
"Our primary interest is in maintaining a clean and safe facility", said Gene Olson, Director of Airports at the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria. "Our cleaning routines involve antiviral cleaning products, and we're hitting every surface every day. We're hunkering down along with everyone else, and we're hoping for our community to come through the pandemic safely and with minimal impact to everyone. We're hoping for a resolution to the situation that keeps everyone safe, and we look forward to greeting the 'new normal', whatever that may be."
In addition to watching passenger and flight numbers closely at the airport, PIA also announces reduced shuttle service hours. The free parking shuttle will operate only in peak times. If a passenger needs shuttle assistance, they can call the airport operations number at (309) 697-8272, ext. 110. "Our shuttle drivers are all in the high risk age group, and we've asked them to socially distance at home," said Olson. Reduced shuttle hours will continue through March and April, or until the virus abates and passenger traffic picks back up.
Separately, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), located in the Ray LaHood International Terminal at PIA, has announced that all Trusted Traveler enrollment programs are on hold. This means that if a person has an interview scheduled for Global Entry or any other CBP program, that appointment has been cancelled and you will need to reschedule after May 1, 2020.