Fresno Yosemite International Airport sees small increase in travelers

Officials believe the travel business will take off once again and the average number of passengers will return within a ye
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Yosemite International Airport is starting to see travel slowly rebound, as officials weigh in on the challenge ahead.

The airport never closed but many planes were grounded as concerns over the coronavirus caused the travel industry to come to a standstill.

Officials remain optimistic as they welcome back more travelers.

The rise in travelers might be incremental but officials say it's still significant.

According to Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle, business at FYI dropped 93% during the height of the 'stay at home' orders.

That's when the airport received $13 million in COVID-19 relief aid to help maintain operations.

The funding was part of the $2 trillion federal CARES act.

"For the next twelve months we're going to use every bit of it to make sure we meet all of our financial obligations," Meikle said.

But as the normally busy summer travel season begins, the airport has learned one of its two international carriers - AeroMexico - has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Airport officials say that for now, AeroMexico will continue to serve passengers traveling to and from Fresno.

"AeroMexico's schedule in July and moving forward is consistent with a normal year. It's consistent with last year and daily flights and daily nightly flights," said Meikle.

Parking, which is another stream of revenue for FYI, has also taken a hit.
But despite the drop in travelers the airport is moving forward with plans to begin construction later this summer on a new parking garage.

"We've already sold those bonds, the financing is done and we've been working on it for the better part of a year. The design is complete and we're ready to start construction," Meikle said.

Officials believe the travel business will take off once again and the average number of passengers will return within a year.

The biggest challenge right now is building back public confidence to fly again.

That's why officials have stepped up protocols within the airport to keep families healthy and safe

"You're going to see signage, TSA signage this way, stickers on the ground for six or more feet apart and plexiglass shields all over the place. You're going to see staff in masks," he said.

While the airport slowly recovers and more passengers continue to book flights, the nearly two dozen planes that were being stored on the north side of the airport are slowly beginning to leave and be put back in service.
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