The effects of social distancing were reflected in a significant drop-off in activity last week at Des Moines International Airport. Compared with the same week a year ago, passenger volume was down nearly 80% last week, said Kayla Kovarna, communications, marketing and air service development manager for the airport. “As more people begin practicing social distancing, we expect this trend to continue,” she said. 

Earlier this month with spring break travel, more than 4,700 passengers boarded or deplaned at DSM on March 4, the busiest day this month. By March 18, however, passenger traffic through the airport dwindled to just 922 passengers during the day. 

Kovarna said it’s impossible to tell the degree to which spring break travel influenced the numbers, though anecdotally, there was more inbound traffic last week than outbound. “We suspect that without spring break travelers this past week, the decrease would have been greater,” she said. 

“It’s important to note, the Des Moines International Airport is open and all carriers are still operating; we also have air cargo operations that continue,” Kovarna said in an email late Friday afternoon. “Following the Governor’s orders, we have closed our restaurants and are now offering to-go food and snack items at Berk & Chester’s, Arugula & Rye (salad bar is closed), and Friedrich’s. Also, Portermill is closed.” 

Kovarna said Des Moines International is beginning to see reductions in its commercial flight schedules as airlines adjust to the drop in demand. 

“So far, we are seeing scheduled flight reductions in April on service to Denver, Houston, and [Chicago] O’Hare,” she said. “We expect service changes on flights to Las Vegas with the shutdown of all casinos, as well.” 
Kovarna emphasized the airport’s commitment to the safety and health of employees and passengers. “We have implemented several operational procedures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at the airport like increased cleaning, disinfecting high touch areas regularly and providing more hand sanitizer stations throughout the terminal,” she said. “We are here and ready to serve you as your hometown airport when you need to travel – now and in the future.  Stay well.”