RGV airports could take one to two years to recover from COVID-19 outbreak

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas- Thousands of people had to put a pause on their vacation plans because of travel restrictions put in place, which is causing a strain on airports and travelers.

Marv Esterly, Director of Aviation at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, said they have seen a 90 to 95 percent decline in passengers due to the pandemic. 

“If you take average out the daily passengers on an annual basis, you come up to somewhere around 1,000 passengers that you’re putting on the plane people coming to the airport and getting on the plane. We’ve seen as low as 49 in a day.”

Several airports in the valley are receiving Coronavirus relief funds totaling at 26 million dollars. 

Three of the biggest airports including Valley International receiving around $20 million, McAllen Miller International receiving around $4 million, and the Brownsville/ South Padre Island International Airport receiving nearly $2 million. 

“It’s important that we keep everything open and the airline still running so we are incurring expenses daily of course and all the airports are,” Esterly said. “This relief will help us pay for those expenses with the lack of revenue coming in.”

According to Esterly, the pandemic is having long-lasting effects on airports, that they may not be able to recover from for a long time. 

“No one knows how long it’s going to affect airports and traveling in public, I suspect it’s going to be a long time,” Esterly said. “Again I think it will be one year to two years before we see the numbers that we’ve seen prior to this event.”

While airports are still up and running, Esterly wants passengers to be aware of the importance of hygiene and social distancing when traveling. 

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