Airports still open as essential businesses, continuing commercial flights, medical services

Local News

BEAVER, WV (WVNS) — As people are told to stay at home, planes built to carry them are not staying on the ground. With them categorized as essential businesses, airports big and small remain open, but are still coping with a drop in traffic.

“On Tuesday, TSA reported that they, for the first time in their history, screened less than 100,000 passengers in the United States,” said Brian Belcher, Greenbrier Valley Airport manager. “On the same day one year ago, they screened over 2 million.”

Locally, Raleigh County Memorial Airport, which services Contour Airlines, and Greenbrier Valley Airport, which works with United, reported close to a 95 percent drop in commercial passenger traffic over the course of the pandemic.

“There’s a trickle-down effect with everything that we do, whether it’s boarding passengers or sending freight out,” said Tom Cochran, director at Raleigh County Memorial Airport.

Although their in-house restaurants are closed, both airports are not furloughing any workers, as they still service commercial and private airliners, cargo transport, and even medical services.

“We have a LabCorps flight that comes in here daily at night, picking up samples for blood testing,” Cochran said. “Those functions go on.”

Car rental companies located at terminals are also open for business, only with slight changes.

“They have adjusted their hours some,” Belcher said. “Their traffic is way off also — not just here, but all over the country.”

Those with both airports said they are routinely cleaning and sanitizing commonly touched surfaces at the terminals, gates, ticket counters, and security checkpoints, while an industry whose full return to normal remains up in the air.

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