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The number of scheduled outbound passenger flights departing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in the third quarter of 2021 is expected to be down 35 percent from the same period in 2019 – among the biggest sustained downturns in the nation, but still a sign of incremental progress.
Airlines for America, an industry trade group, on July 21 released a state-by-state comparison of the number of flights scheduled for the July-August-September period, and how they compared to the same period during pre-pandemic 2019.
The 35-percent shortfall Reagan National (which is counted as the lone airport in the District of Columbia even though arguably it’s in Virginia) was second only to New York state (down 36 percent) in the comparison. Rhode Island, Alaska and New Jersey also are seeing dropoffs of more than 30 percent.
(The figures represent only flights, not total number of seats, the percentage filled by passengers or the average fares being paid by those passengers, so it is only one snapshot of the airline industry’s recovery from the depths of COVID.)
Nine states – Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Maine, Mississippi and Colorado – are on track for more flights in the third quarter of 2021 than in 2019. Montana leads the list with a 25-percent spike in flights.
Florida and Arizona passenger flights will be effectively on par with 2019, while all other states see declines.
Locally, Virginia airports (counting Washington Dulles International but not Reagan National) are expected to be down 17 percent from two years before, while Maryland airports are down 23 percent.
According to Airlines for America data, Allegiant, Spirit, Frontier, Midwest and JetBlue are expecting increases in total capacity during the third quarter when compared to 2019, with other major carriers anticipating declines. Both United Airlines and Delta Air Lanes anticipate a capacity drop-off of more than 25 percent.