LR airport continues business as usual during COVID-19 pandemic


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The largest airport in the Natural State continues business as usual during the pandemic.

According to the airport, they saw a 93 percent decrease for people flying from April 2019 compared to April 2020.

There isn’t much going on at the Bill and Hilary Clinton National Airport.

The airport has shifted their hours of operation around the flights coming and leaving out and airport officials say they expect things to be like this over the next several months.

The background lobby music is all that echos through the Little Rock Airport Thursday.

You typically wouldn’t hear the music because of crowds, but that’s changed since March.

“It’s certainly the lowest we’ve ever seen, you think back to 9/11 and it wasn’t anything like this then,” said Shane Carter, Director of Public Affairs and Governmental Relations for Bill and Hilary Clinton National Airport.

Most of the airport travel here has been grounded because of COVID-19.

Before the pandemic, there were about 45 to 50 flights going out a day and now there are 12.

“You compare that for the month of April and we had a total of 6,100 outbound passengers where before COVID-19 we would easily have 4,500 outbound passengers a day,” said Carter.

Most shops and food spots have been closed since March. The Airport Commission approved rent relief for food, beverage, and retailers inside the airport.

Most of the staff at the front desks are only working a few hours each day.

“While a lot of those entities have furloughed workers, thankfully the Airport Commission has not furloughed anyone involuntarily. We’ve had a few employees that have taken voluntary furlough,” said Carter.

Parking is one of the biggest parts of their revenue. They typically make thousands of dollars but that’s gone down too.

Carter says they’re taking advantage of all this time with less people around.

“While an area could only have renovations overnight, now we’re able to do more of those during the day,” said Carter.

Despite seeing the effects of the coronavirus, airlines will continue to fly, but Carter says they’re prepared when things pick back up.

“We’ve been doing a lot of deep cleaning, and whenever passengers coming back in large numbers we will continue to be committed to that,” said Carter.

Airlines have required people to wear masks to get on planes. The Airport Commission is voting next week on an ordinance to start encouraging people to wear masks around the airport.

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