Officials with North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field said traffic has notably slowed at the airport during the ongoing economic slowdown from COVID-19. Officials with the airport said the has been a noticeable slowdown in air traffic to the airport, but business still continues.
“Of course business is down,” said Mike Livezey, NTRA airport director and general manager of Rise Aviation. “As far as a percentage of business? That is a hard to identify as X percent, but it is a fraction of what we normally see.”
On an average day, Livezey said Rise Aviation, which serves as the fixed-base operator for NTRA, would see about 20 aircraft stop in for services. Since the start of the COVID-19 health crisis, this has dropped to about four or five a day.
As a precaution, Livezey said the airport has closed its main terminal building to the general public. Similarly, the main lobby of the Rise building has also been shuttered to the public.
“The airport for a group of folks is a gathering place, and based on recommendations by the president, and the governor, the county, we took and closed the terminal to the general public,” Livezey said. “We are better prepared for social distancing, but we are still serving customers that need to be served.”
Despite the slowdown, Livezey said flights are still taking place at NTRA. One of the airport’s largest users is US Aviation, a flight academy that primarily focuses on international pilots.
While flight instruction with US Aviation is still taking place, Livezey said he was uncertain about their current enrollment at NTRA. Traditionally, China and prospective Chinese pilots have been one of the largest markets for NTRA.
Livezey said he does not believe that the academy has seen an incoming class of students since November.
“When some go home, the normally get an allotment,” Livezey said. “But if they have sent some home I am willing to bet they haven’t gotten a new allotment.”
Calls to US Aviation for comment Wednesday were not immediately returned.
In addition to the flight school, Livezey said the airport still has seen some general traffic with some cargo transport fuel stops and at least one air ambulance trip.
Livezey said there will be long term impacts to business at the airport, but he could not comment yet, as the full scope has yet to be determined.
“Is it going to extend out that time line for some people? Most definitely,” he said. “How long is that going to take? That takes a crystal ball. That will be based on the overall economy and what the economy does.“
Despite the downturn, Livezey said he is still getting calls from interested prospects who are discussing options of locating at the airport.
“Businesses are nimble position themselves to take advantage of downturns so they can hop out and take advantage of those things,” he said.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.