Passenger numbers at Tri-Cities Airport (PSC) have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 377,971 people traveled through the airport in 2020, down 57 percent from 2019. 2019 was previously the airport’s busiest year on record.
PSC passenger counts began high in January and February—generally the airport’s slowest time—and put the airport on pace to exceed 2019 numbers. In March, the start of the global pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders sharply reversed the trend. In April 2020, 95 percent fewer people traveled than in April 2019. Passenger trends slowly resumed over the summer, and the airport finished the year with a 57 percent total decline.
“As with all airports in 2020, Tri-Cities Airport had to contend with the sudden stop in air travel due to the pandemic,” said Buck Taft, Tri-Cities Airport Director. “Our recovery has been supported by implementing additional health and safety protocols, and we look forward to serving travelers when they are ready to fly again.”
Airlines count their passengers in terms of enplanements, or the number of people who board an aircraft at an airport. The number of people arriving are considered deplanements; the sum of both numbers is an airport’s total passenger number. In 2019, the airport saw 438,123 enplanements, an all-time high for the airport. In 2020 PSC processed 188,959 enplaned passengers—a count not seen since 1997.
One bright spot in last year’s operations was cargo. Enplaned cargo, or the goods shipped from Tri-Cities elsewhere in the world, increased 9 percent over 2019. UPS was primarily responsible for the rise, carrying 840,494 tons of goods in 2019, a 38 percent increase from the year prior.
While a full recovery isn’t expected until after the pandemic is contained and stay-at-home orders are lifted, the nonstop service options at the airport are increasing. Travelers from PSC can already reach Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, and flights to Minneapolis St. Paul will be available beginning March 2.
Additional statistics can be found here on the Tri-Cities Airport’s website.
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