April 30, 2020

The profound effects from the COVID-19 pandemic on general aviation (GA) airports continue to make headlines around the country, as local news outlets are made aware of the devastating impact on routine operations caused by state-level lockdowns.

The Goshen (IN) News profiled Goshen Municipal Airport (GSH) and Elkhart Municipal Airport (EKM), both of which have both seen their general aviation traffic reduced to essentially zero, with the story later picked up for wider distribution by the Tribune-Star newspaper serving the Wabash Valley region of Indiana and Illinois.

“[W]e have never seen anything like this since post-9/11,” GSH Airport Manager Randy Sharkey told the paper.

“Not much, that is what we are seeing,” Dave Pixey, manager of the Elkhart airport, told reporters.

As of December 2016, GSH had 70 based aircraft and averaged 39 takeoffs and landings per day, according to Airnav.com. Elkhart Municipal Airport averaged 88 daily operations through December 2017, with 39 based aircraft. However, traffic within the past month has dropped drastically; for example, on a recent day in April, FlightAware.com tracked just four aircraft flying to those fields.

Elkhart is home to charter operator Traffic Management Co., while charter provider Aircraft Charter Services and charter and medevac operator Sweet Helicopters are based at GSH. Both Pixey and Sharkey reported significant slowdowns in those companies’ operations at their airports.

“There had been a strong demand lately to move families home from spring break vacations who might have gotten stranded,” said Sharkey, noting that since then aircraft have been grounded. “With the business travel restrictions in place, the need for private charters will be slim for the foreseeable future.”