WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Andrew Stravitz flew into Palm Beach International Airport from Newark, New Jersey on a full flight.
“It was incredibly crowded. Our flight was completely sold out,” he said. “Definitely uncomfortable. We were paranoid, we kept wiping ourselves.”
Stravitz made the trip to Florida for the holidays with his son Sebastian to visit his parents that he hasn’t seen due to COVID-19.
“It’s been almost a year, so that’s why we made a decision. My parents aren’t getting any younger,” he said.
Despite holiday travelers like Stravitz, new numbers and information obtained by Contact 5, shows the pandemic’s painful impact on Palm Beach International Airport.
An airport spokesperson told Contact 5 passenger traffic at PBI is down 55-60%.
It bottomed out in April when passenger traffic dropped 97%.
Fewer passengers also mean a sharp decrease in revenue for the airport, including $1-million a month from parking.
Nationwide, airports face at least $23 billion in operating losses as a result of COVID-19 according to the spokesperson.
Despite the challenges across the travel industry, an airport spokesperson told Contact 5 Palm Beach International Airport is starting to see the return of non-stop routes at reduced capacity as well as new service to LAX and Nashville International.
In a statement to Contact 5, Airport Director Laura Beebe said “While we anticipate the recovery to 2019 passenger traffic levels to take several years, we continue to remain confident that PBI will weather the current situation. In the interim, our focus will continue to be on the health and safety of our passengers and employees as passenger demand begins to stabilize.”