City Manager hopeful extensive vaccination will restore travel numbers at Dayton International Airport

City Manager hopeful extensive vaccination will restore travel numbers at Dayton International Airport

DAYTON — Dayton International Airport prepares to face more challenges as another drop in travel looms.

Travel by air dropped dramatically when the COVID shutdowns began last March. Airports saw a slight rise in travel through the holidays in November and December, but now the new year means another drop.

Prior to the pandemic, Dayton’s city-run airport saw a 2 percent increase in passengers just before the shutdown. In May, numbers dropped 88 percent from the previous year. Even with a spike around the holidays, numbers were still down 65 percent.

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“That accelerated a problem we already had that was created by Southwest [Airlines] leaving in 2017,” said Shelley Dickstein, Dayton’s city manager.

Dickstein said officials were in negotiations with unions representing airport workers when the pandemic hit. While the city offered voluntary separation agreements for some workers, eventually employment had to be significantly reduced as part of the new agreement.

Dickstein called the airport a regional asset. She’s hopeful that recent changes in Washington D.C. will mean more financial assistance for cities like Dayton.

In addition, Dickstein hopes that the distribution of the COVID vaccines will help travel numbers return to what they saw before the shutdown.