Airport officials cautiously optimistic as number of passengers slowly increase

Airport officials cautiously optimistic as number of passengers slowly increase
Travelers say they're starting to feel safe about flying again. (Source: FOX 8)

KENNER, La. (WVUE) - As sparse travelers pass through the terminal, Aviation Director Kevin Dolliole says traffic is about 69% down from this time last year.

However, that's still an improvement from the last several months.

"May was about 93% down, May over May. April was at the bottom. April was about 97% down. So you see the slow steady improvement each month," Dolliole said.

He expects recovery to be slow with the second spike of COVID-19.

"Where we've seen 10% jumps, we may not see that from July to August, or August compared to August of last year," Dolliole said.

Social distancing stickers and Plexiglass are scattered throughout the airport as some of the safety measures implemented.

"Capacity limits on elevators, we're limited to four people on an elevator, and that signage is there as well. Face coverings are required throughout the facility," Dolliole said.

He says they've also increased sanitizing high-touch areas.

"It's been very safe. Part of that is because the crowds are so small, but also because I think folks have done a great job making sure they social distance, especially over the past few months and how people realize the seriousness of the whole pandemic and everything else," Ernest Siwik said.

He says he works at Children's Hospital, and has been traveling to see family.

"That's probably more stressful for me in terms of infection than traveling at this point in time," Siwik said.

Another passenger says her flight was full flying out, but socially distanced on the way back.

"We flew about two weeks ago. Going out, our flight was full. all three rows on each side of the plane were full. Flying back, we flew two days later coming back, and the whole middle section on each row was empty," Lori Quave said.

She says passengers were mandated to wear their face masks on the flight.

"I was really surprised, it was really full," Quave said.

Dolliole says some retail stores are also opening as they see more travelers.

"As traffic has ramped up, so slowly are the concessions ramping up and there's frequent ongoing constant discussions and airport management and concessionaires as to the proper locations to reopen," Dolliole said.

Airport officials say they may also receive a second round of funding through the HEALS Act, where they could receive 10 billion dollars.

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