Home News Local News Reduced passenger counts continue to impact Air Center

Reduced passenger counts continue to impact Air Center

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Roswell airline service will decrease to one scheduled arrival and departure to Dallas every day starting in about two weeks, according to the director of the Roswell Air Center.

Stark said at a Thursday meeting of the city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission that airline passenger counts right now are about 5% of normal load.

While several flights for the Dallas-Roswell service are still technically on the schedule, he said, most days American Airlines only runs one flight in and one flight out right now, and that will become the set schedule on May 7.

“Other places have it a lot worse, other airports our size,” he said. “We are lucky to have it, lucky and grateful.”

On April 7, the flight service to and from Phoenix was canceled as American Airlines made the decision to discontinue much of its domestic and international service for the time being.

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A request for comment from American Airlines was not received by press time, with an automated reply referring questions to a website. Information on that website showed that American Airlines had planned by March 27 to reduce its U.S. airline service by 70% in April and by 80% by May. International flights have been decreased by 80% to 90%.

During the crisis, the Roswell Air Center has lost money on passenger fees and landing fees but has been able to make money for the storage and parking of airline planes. Since the coronavirus situation began, 270 additional planes have been flown in by American Airlines, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines. That brings the total stored at the airfield to about 420 or 430, Stark said.

Now the Air Center is considering parking mainly smaller commercial aircraft, because staff want to park planes on surface areas that will not be damaged by the weight of the craft and also want to ensure the safety of the planes.

As a result of the aircraft storage, Aersale, a maintenance and repair organization that works with airlines to store and maintain planes, is hiring about 200 temporary contract workers from out of state, said General Manager Randy Phelps.

The Roswell airport also has received federal relief funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It will receive $1.23 million from two different types of funding mechanisms administered through the Federal Aviation Administration.

City and Air Center managers have not yet determined how they will use the funding, but one option discussed would be to use the funds to cover payroll, benefits and debt payments for Air Center operations for a year, freeing up the money that would have been used on those items for other purposes.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.