Coronavirus impacting U.S. air travel

A 747 plane safely made an emergency landing at McGhee Tyson airport Sunday morning.  (MGN)
A 747 plane safely made an emergency landing at McGhee Tyson airport Sunday morning. (MGN)(WVLT)
Published: Mar. 10, 2020 at 2:58 PM CDT
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Airlines are slashing flights and freezing hiring as they experience a sharp drop in bookings and a rise in cancellations in the face of the spreading coronavirus.

Delta said today that travel demand has fallen so badly in the past week that it expects one-third of seats to be empty this month on flights within the U.S.

Locally, Green Bay's airport director says there are no signs of a reduction in travel, at least so far.

But travelers flying in from around the country say they are seeing the impact.

Ready to leave Green Bay today after a business trip here, Gwendllyn Hoffman feels fear over the coronavirus is a little overblown.

"I kind of watch all the news networks and I think they're kind of hyping it up a little bit, so I carry my Clorox wipes, I wipe down my table, my seat and everything I'm going to touch or use and I'm just going to keep traveling," says Hoffman from Columbus, Ohio.

While airlines are cutting back on flights around the country, Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport is still offering the same amount of flights.

"Locally we're really not seeing a huge impact, yet, I would say it's something we're definitely monitoring and we keep in touch with our airline partners," says Airport Director Marty Piette.

Travelers arriving to Green Bay from Chicago late this morning say their flights were far from full.

"A lot less people on the flights, a few people had masks and everything, hand sanitizer, just precaution for everything, but definitely a lot less people," says Michelle Tabaska from Austin, Texas.

If travel fears do spread to the more regional airports like Green Bay, Piette says there will be a financial impact.

"We'll see that in our ancillary revenue like our parking lot and restaurant, so if passengers decline we'll definitely see that in some of those different business avenues that we have," says Piette.

For now, Hoffman's motto is take precautions and keep working.

"Businesses have to keep going, I mean if we all stay home and don't go shopping and don't go traveling, we're going to ruin our economy," says Hoffman.

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