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Minot International Airport see decline in boardings, flights

Minot flights, boardings decline

Kim Fundingsland/MDN The Minot International Airport has seen an expected decline in activity during the current coronavirus pandemic. However, most flights are still flying as usual.

Like many other locations these days, the Minot International Airport is a lonely looking place.

“What I am seeing so far, obviously, is a decrease in passenger traffic. It’s pretty significant,” said Rick Feltner, Minot International Airport manager.

It has not been unexpected as people practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak. Nevertheless, it is a strange sight to see a virtually empty airport terminal and adjacent parking lots with plenty of open spaces. It is very unlike normal operation at the airport.

“We are starting to see airlines cut back on the actual number of flights,” said Feltner. “We pretty much had a full schedule of flights but that’s been whittling down somewhat. We’ll probably see that continue.”

Actual numbers of boardings won’t be known until individual airlines release figures at the end of March. Business travel has come to a halt and the shutting down of Las Vegas has meant an end to popular flights to that destination.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Only a few vehicles were in the parking lot opposite the main entrance to the Minot International Airport Terminal Tuesday.

“This affects everybody,” remarked Feltner. “Who knows where we will be in April. It’s very fluid and airlines are taking it week by week and making decisions about canceling flights.”

Cancellations thus far have been selective, based partially on passenger demand. For instance, there are typically five Delta Airlines flights from Minot to Minneapolis each day. Now, on many days, there are only three. United Airlines and Allegiant also use the Minot Airport and are faced with similar circumstances.

Still, says Feltner, flights continue to come and go from Minot.

“People fly for all different kinds of reasons. Some have wintered in Arizona or elsewhere and it is time to come home,” explained Feltner. “Airlines are an integral part of the national infrastructure. Minot Air Force Base depends on air service to get people in and out. There’s FedEx and UPS operating here too. It’s important to keep things maintained and ready to go. That part of the job doesn’t change.”

What has changed is the approach to cleaning and disinfecting. According to Feltner, the Minot Airport has taken cleaning to a “new level.” The airlines have universally adopted extensive cleaning procedures too, all in the interest of the health and safety of passengers and crews during the current coronavius pandemic.

The Transportation Security Administration, TSA, allows passengers to take disinfecting wipes on aircraft without any restrictions. TSA has also changed the regulation regarding how much liquid hand sanitizer is permitted through checkpoints. For the time being, TSA has waved the 3.4 ounce limit of liquids to permit up to 12 ounce bottles of hand sanitizer.

Further information on airline travel and coronavirus can be found on individual airline websites.

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