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Santa Maria Airport sees decline in flights, passengers due to COVID-19

Posted at 4:51 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 01:04:56-04

The Santa Maria Airport has seen a decline in flights and passengers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact air travel.

According to a spokesperson for the airport, Allegiant Air is flying to and from Las Vegas two times per week instead of three, with flights only at about 10 to 20 percent occupancy.

Once Las Vegas reopens the local economy, these numbers are likely to increase, said the spokesperson.

United Airlines was expected to begin offering flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver on June 4, but will delay offering those flights until October 1, according to airport officials.

The Santa Maria Airport shuttle service to LAX is closed and airport car rentals have also seen a drop in business, officials said.

Chris Hastert, the general manager of the Santa Maria Public Airport District, says the airport is financially stable despite the decrease in flights.

"We are very hopeful that, as the country starts opening back up, our flights will get going again because we made such great progress in making the announcement for that three-hub service and we ultimately want to bring that to our community and have it be successful," said Hastert.

Hastert says the airport received a grant from the CARES Act which will cover operating expenses.

The Santa Maria Airport is also remaining afloat by collecting revenue from leased agricultural land.