Home > Entertainment > Travel > April passenger traffic at RNO: Scant

April passenger traffic at RNO: Scant

By John Seelmeyer
Published: Last Updated on

The average commercial flight at Reno-Tahoe International Airport during April was 12.7 percent full — roughly the equivalent of 17 passengers on a typical Boeing 737 such as those flown by Southwest Airlines.

While airport officials have been saying for weeks that the facility’s numbers during April were mind-blowingly awful, new data just reported by the airport authority provides a full picture of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given the airport’s $3.1 billion annual economic impact and the 2,600 people who work at the airport, the dramatic decline will ripple through the region’s entire economy.

A total of 17,265 passengers came through the airport during April. That’s nearly a 95 percent decline from the 337,062 travelers who came through RNO in the same month a year ago.

Airlines slashed the number of flights they offered. The 499 departures during the month were only a quarter of the number of flights available a year earlier.

The Reno airport is nearly vacant in late March.
Reno airport traffic was down dramatically in April, and the effects will ripple through the entire region’s economy.
Image: Trevor Bexon

While the decline was bad for all seven airlines that served Reno-Tahoe International during the month, some were even worse than others.  United carried 1,356 passengers, compared with 45,903 a year ago.  JetBlue carried 124 passengers compared with 13,168 a year ago.

Southwest, the dominant carrier in the market, carried 8,335 passengers.  Even though that’s a 94 percent decline from a year earlier, it still represented 48 percent of all the passenger traffic through the airport during April.

Obviously, no airline was anywhere near capacity, but Alaska Airlines’ flights were the most full. Nearly 18 percent of its seats were filled.  That’s about 14 people — and 62 open seats — on one of the Embraer 175 regional jets that the airline flies to destinations such as Seattle.

While passenger traffic fell off a cliff during April, cargo shipments through the airport held fairly strong, considering the economic shutdowns dictated by the pandemic. The 11 million pounds of cargo handled during April was down by only 1 percent from a year earlier.

Cargo carried by FedEx was up by 7 percent, UPS was down by 11.5 percent and DHL was down by about 13 percent.

Altogether, the number of passenger, cargo, military and private flights at the airport during April was less than half the figure from a year ago.

Related Stories