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COVID-19's impact on the airline industry

COVID-19 has affected all parts of our lives, but the travel industry has been hit hard in particular.

MIDLAND, Texas — Flying out of Midland International Airport over the last year was a different experience than in previous years. One thing that was immediately noticeable was how quiet everything was. 

However, with spring break in full swing and vaccines continuing to be administered, things are slowly starting to get closer to normal.

"You know, walking through the terminal it seems busier," Justine Ruff, director of airports, said. "It does seem like it’s busier. We've got a lot of cars in the parking lot this week and you can definitely tell it’s spring break."

After a 2019 that proved to be one of the busiest years in the airport's history, 2020 was a dramatic step back.

"2019 was our second best year in history, so it was kind of a blow to lose as many passengers as we did," Ruff said. "In April last year I think we were down about 80 percent. We’ve seemed to have leveled off the last couple of months at about 50 percent less than the same month the year before."

Just like other businesses, Midland International had to accommodate for COVID-19 protocols on top of the general safety protocols.

"We’re certainly a lot more aware," Ruff said. "We social distance a lot more. It’s a federal mandate that we mask in the airport, so in our public areas, you know, the mask mandate is still in place. So if you’re flying, you still have to mask up. We sanitize once a week. We have buttons in the elevators that sanitize themselves."

Even though COVID-19 has forced many changes, one good thing for the airport is that COVID-19 has allowed them to move forward on crucial projects.

"There are some ways that COVID has helped us," Ruff said. "Having less people in the terminal this year, our parking lot project has been able to move along quicker, and because there haven’t been as many cars, we’ve been able to do some of the areas sooner than we thought. We replaced all of our jet bridges this year."

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