RAPID CITY, S.D. — The airline industry has seen significant changes in everyday operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s not even mentioning the financial strain that the pandemic has put on the airlines.
Despite what the pandemic has done to the industry, the Rapid City Regional Airport is doing better than expected.
Although down about 50 percent of its travelers from last year’s record-setting numbers, the airport’s passenger capacity is actually higher than the national average, which has seen a decrease of about 63 percent.
With the passenger count at the airport being up 13 percent from the national average, it makes it even more vital for passengers to wear their masks for the entire trip and practice social distancing.
Travelers are required to wear a mask in the airport, as well as through the entire traveling process by airlines. A spaced-out complex has also allowed travelers to effectively social distance.
“We do require masks here in the building as well,” said Toni Broom, the Deputy Airport Director for Finance and Administration at the Rapid City Regional Airport. “Fortunately, we have a large enough concourse that people are able to socially distance themselves, and what we’re seeing is people are doing a pretty good job of that.”
Broom said that the airport is down 33 percent in its “concessional” revenue, or revenue through car rentals, the gift shop, etc. Broom also said that the airport is using CARES Act funding to be able to fund things like its payroll and any additional costs for its increased cleaning measures, including the purchase of ultra-violet cleansers.
The CARES Act Funding stretches over a five-year period, which gives the airport some added help if needed in the future.
The airport is also hoping that with most people traveling domestically, more will continue to safely visit South Dakota.