Flights emanating from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in October are expected to be down 32 percent from the same month two years before, while commercial flight totals in the rest of Virginia are slated to be off 11 percent, according to new data.
The trade group Airlines for America each month publishes a state-by-state list comparing pending flight totals to those of the pre-pandemic era. Although Reagan National is located in Virginia, for this ranking it is counted as being in the District of Columbia.
Of all 50 states, only New York state remains down nearly as much as Reagan National; its October 2021 flight total is expected to be off 31 percent from October 2019. Ohio is next, down 28 percent.
On the flip side of the coin, five states – Idaho, South Carolina, Montana and Utah – are showing slight increases in aircraft movements for the month, as they have become favorite locales of vacationers during the pandemic.
(The total number of flights is just a piece of the puzzle in attempting to discern the relative health of airlines and locales, as the comparisons do not take into account the types of aircraft being flown, how filled they are and what airfares are being paid by those in them.)
After a glimmer of hope in spring and early summer that the COVID crisis may have eased, the national aviation scene has settled into its quiet time of year with the number of passengers moving through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints off about 25 percent from the same periods two years before. Much of the shortfall is due to a lack of business and international travel, each of which is lagging domestic leisure travel in a rebound.
An analysis by Airlines for America paints the best-case scenario as having passenger counts and revenue back to pre-pandemic levels in 2022; the worst-case scenario does not foresee that occurring until sometime after 2024.