COVID-19 drives 2020 passenger traffic to record low at LVIA

With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping the world shut down for most of 2020, travel was at a minimum. The story was no different in the Lehigh Valley where the Lehigh Valley International Airport saw the biggest passenger traffic drop in its history.

At the same time, with people stuck at home and ordering goods online, e-commerce drove cargo volume at the airport to a record high.

According to Tom Stoudt, executive director of the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority, 390,764 passengers traveled through the airport in 2020. That’s a more than 57% decline from 2019.

On the air cargo side, Stoudt said the airport processed more than 210 million pounds of cargo, the highest volume the airport has ever handled and nearly 15% higher than in 2019.

Even the holidays were slow for air travel.

Passenger traffic during Thanksgiving week declined approximately 53% and Christmas followed with only 27,631 passengers traveling through the airport in December, a 61.7% decrease from December of last year.

Despite the pandemic and the resulting reduction in service, the airport did have some good news on the travel end including the arrival of a two-aircraft Allegiant Crew Base.

That brought more than 60 new jobs to the region as well as new air service to Sarasota and Chicago-Midway.

Also, United Airlines expanded services with daily non-stop service to Washington-Dulles International Airport.

“Adding three new routes during a time of great uncertainty surrounding commercial air service reflects the strong commitment by our airline partners to ensure options for the Lehigh Valley and surrounding communities,” said Stoudt.

Overall, however, each of the airlines at LVIA did see a decline in December. United reported a total passenger decrease of 67.4%, Delta dropped 65.6%, American declined 63.6%, and Allegiant was down 56.1%.

LVIA adds 2 nonstop daily flights to Washington, D.C.

Lehigh Valley International Airport is getting a new destination, and it’s one officials at the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority are excited about.

Starting Dec. 17, United Airlines will have two flights daily from ABE to Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport.

“Dulles remained on our target list, as this service had success at ABE in the past. Beyond the leisure or business travel, the opportunity for more connectivity via United Airlines continues to showcase your neighborhood airport’s role as a growing transportation asset,” said Thomas Stoudt, executive director of the airport authority.

This destination increases United’s options at ABE which currently include Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, which can be accessed through the United’s shuttle bus service.

Stoudt said the addition of the flights is exciting considering the state of the airline industry in the COVID-19 pandemic. “During a time of great uncertainty throughout the aviation industry, this news injects an immediate jolt of positive energy to air travelers in the Lehigh Valley region,” he said.

Prior to the pandemic, Stoudt noted that air travel was on the upswing at the airport. Last year the airport experienced its highest passenger traffic volume since 2004 with 911,970.

The daily nonstop flights are scheduled to depart ABE at 8:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. and will arrive at ABE at 12:11 p.m. and 6: 50 p.m.