Air travel is stirring back to life at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, although passenger counts still remain far below pre-pandemic levels.
About 46,000 passengers traveled through the airport in May. That’s a decline of 87 percent from the 354,000 passengers during same month a year ago. On the other hand, it’s more than two times the number of passengers — 17,265 — who came through the airport in April.
As a result, flights were slightly more crowded. On average, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority planes leaving Reno during May were 30 percent filled, which compares with 13 percent a month.
While airline schedules remain in flux, the number of flights available to travelers from Reno continues to inch up.
During May, 584 departures were recorded at the airport, compared with 499 during April.
And airlines are beginning to cautiously restore flights to their Reno schedule, although the additions sometimes amount to two steps forward and one step back.
Southwest Airlines, which accounts for almost half of the passenger market in Reno, recently added a second daily flight to Denver and a second daily flight to Phoenix. But lingering effects of COVID-19 led it to suspend service to Dallas, Chicago, San Jose and Oakland.
American Airlines this week added an additional non-stop flight to Dallas, began offering service to Chicago four days a week and added a daily flight to Phoenix. On the other hand, COVID-19 led to suspension of American’s flights to Los Angeles.
United Airlines, however, resumed its direct flights to Los Angeles, but suspended service to Chicago and Houston because of the pandemic.
Delta Air Lines added a third flight to Salt Lake City even as it suspended service to Atlanta and said it won’t resume service to Minneapolis this summer.
At the start of the month, Alaska Airlines doubled its non-stop service to Seattle — increasing flights to four times a day — and resumed service to Portland. But in a move that wasn’t related to COVID-19, the airline eliminated its non-stop service to San Jose.
Although passenger traffic remains low, the amount of cargo handled by the airport ticked up slightly — by 0.2 percent — during May compared with the same month a year ago. That’s particularly good news because air cargo is considered by many savvy observers to be one of the best indicators of the health of the local economy.