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Without Any Passengers, Dayton Airport Struggles

Dayton International Airport.
Dayton International Airport
Dayton International Airport.

Across the country, business and leisure air travel has almost completely evaporated. That’s left local airports struggling — airports like Dayton International.

In 2019, about 74,000 people a month got on a plane at Dayton International Airport. But today, passenger traffic has declined about 95 percent.

That equates to tens of thousands of unbought sandwiches, unchecked bags and unrented cars. And it’s millions of dollars worth of people not paying to park. The airport’s biggest revenue stream is actually its garage and parking lots.

Linda Hughes is the Air Service Manager for the city’s Aviation Department. She says the biggest worry for airports right now is the fact that so much still remains unknown.

"Each state seems to be releasing people back into the flow separately," Hughes says. "Our destination locations, are they going to be open just because our originating location is open? You know, is leisure travel going to come back? There's just a lot of questions out there."

The Federal Department of Transportation has allocated over $14.6 million to Dayton International and Dayton-Wright Brothers airports through the CARES Act. But even though the Dayton City Commission voted last week to authorize the city manager to accept the funds, the airport says they haven’t gotten any money yet.