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New Service and the 2020 Wrap-up

Feb 09 2021

After a difficult 2020 the Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF) enters the new year with hopeful signs of recovery.

This week Allegiant Air announced new service between Springfield and Houston Hobby Airport (HOU). The low-cost airline caters to vacation travelers and will run the service twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, beginning May 28.

Service to Texas also gets a boost from United Airlines …

On March 4 United will resume service between Springfield and Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH). The airline suspended Springfield service to IAH last May due to the drop off in business caused by the pandemic. Service between Springfield and IAH will be seven days a week, with one daily roundtrip.

And American Airlines is pumping things up …

After months of offering reduced service in Springfield, American is increasing the number of seats for sale in Springfield to levels that are higher than they were before the pandemic. This increase suggests that the airline thinks Springfield passengers will start flying again.

These improvements are a welcome relief. In 2020 the pandemic pushed total airport passenger numbers down 49.6 percent, compared to the previous year. Airlines responded by cutting the number of seats available in Springfield by 35.5 percent.

Springfield Passenger numbers might have been even lower if not for the relative strength of leisure flying.

While the pandemic has been marked by a dramatic decrease in people flying for business, leisure flying has been less affected.

Allegiant Air focuses on leisure travel. During 2020 it decreased the number of seats available in Springfield by 20.5 percent. Other airlines, which don’t focus on leisure travel, cut seats considerably more: American: down 30.4 percent. Delta: down 32.8 percent. United: down 50.4 percent.

When the pandemic subsides both airports and airlines expect to see an unleashing of pent-up travel demand.

The U.S. Travel Association reports research showing that 63 percent of Americans say they “desperately” need a vacation. 72 percent of employed Americans say they’ve “set aside time to plan out vacation days for the coming year.”

But even with a passenger surge in 2021, many in the travel industry think it will be 2024 before airlines and airports fully recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.

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