Stakeholders discuss moving the aviation industry forward
Aviation continues to be one of the hardest-hit industries by COVID-19
FARGO, N.D. — With no end in sight to the pandemic and the fear of flying still on people’s minds, airlines and airports are continuing to struggle financially.
But in Fargo, passenger volume has been on the rise quicker than in the rest of the country.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” says Hector International Airport Executive Director Shawn Dobberstein. “Back in April, being down about 96% and now through August and September only being down 52% is certainly encouraging.”
Also encouraging, he says, is the increase in interest in flight instruction and working in aviation.
“Those that want to learn how to fly or some that maybe have taken a little break from flying are going back and getting re-certified. I think that’s all good signs in terms of what’s going to take place here over the next six months to a year.”
National Air Transportation Association Senior Vice President Ryan Waguespack says the Fargo airport is a great example of being an economic engine in the community.
“When you have city officials, local leaders, airport authorities, private sectors, owners, all coming together to move the needle, it’s a beautiful thing,” says Waguespack.
Hector International leaders say they’re hopeful 2020 will end on a strong note.
“At this point, we’re very optimistic that the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the normal holiday travel, I think we’re going to see a surge of passengers again,” explains Dobberstein.
The CDC says travel does increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, but most viruses and germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.
Although it’s difficult to tell when aviation will bounce back fully, those in the industry say there has never been a more important time to work together at the local, state and national level toward a recovery.