Journey bookings nonetheless decrease than final yr, however steadily growing in West Michigan
Gerald R. Ford International Airport has 50% fewer passengers than last year, but in March and April they were down 96%.
GRAND RAPIDS, me. Travel is in decline worldwide, but Gerald R. Ford International Airport sees hope on the horizon.
In mid-March and April, 96% fewer passengers than usual were carried at the airport. Now they are 50% of the passengers compared to last year. Alex Peric, the airport’s chief operating officer, said they were growing steadily towards the end of the year.
“Travel has been positive for the past few months,” said Peric.
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Looking ahead to 2021, the spring break season is the airport’s busiest. Peric said they are tracking passengers and projecting what bookings could be for next spring.
“In 2021 we are conservatively forecasting 85% of our previous year,” said Peric.
He also said that Ford Airport is a little busier than others around the country. Up to this point in the year to date, they are 10% above the national average.
The airport has adapted to the 2020 health and safety guidelines. There are hand sanitizing stations, required masks, and social distancing markings around the airport.
“We surveyed companies in West Michigan and more than half of them expected business trips to return later this year or early next year,” said Peric. “That’s very positive for us. We saw a lot of leisure traffic here at the airport, but we’re looking forward to the business trip back.”
Meanwhile, travel agencies in West Michigan are seeing similar trends. Shelley Kohtz, the vacation travel manager at Witte Travel, said they are seeing an increase in domestic travel.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest in Florida, Disney, Universal Studios, and beach destinations,” said Kohtz. “People just want to get out of Michigan for a while. Also interested in the West, national parks, wide open spaces where people can.” Roaming mask freely with her family and travel capsules and be comfortable. “
Kohtz said right now, a lot of people are looking to vacation travel and spring break next year. Although some universities and schools are canceling the spring break, the demand for travel during this time is still there, according to Kohtz.
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The past few months have been different, however, as the conditions and restrictions kept changing.
“It’s a challenge,” said Kohtz, “we’ve been through things that have never happened in this industry.”
Europe, however, is still closed. She said they don’t have set dates on when Americans are allowed to visit, but their customers, who have pushed back their trips this year, want to rebook.
Last year was a record year in terms of travel. But things are looking up again for 2021.
RELATED: 96% Decline in US Air Travel Recorded in April
“This year compared to last year there is no comparison, it’s still way down,” said Kohtz. “But we are confident that there is a desire to travel, people want to travel, they will come back to it.”
She suggests if someone wants to travel for the spring break to book early. Many hotels and resorts have limited occupancy and fill up slowly. She also recommends, more than ever, using a travel agent who can stick to schedules and adapt to changing conditions and restrictions. Also, be flexible with plans.
“You have to expect that something will change,” said Kohtz.
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