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St. Pete-Clearwater airport passenger count falls 97 percent

Tampa International Airport has seen a matching decline.

CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport saw just 5,799 passengers during April, more than a 97 percent decline from its 205,821 passengers in April 2019.

The passenger total was the lowest monthly count since 2004. The previous low was 9,220 during September 2008 in the depths of the Great Recession.

The drop-off began at the start of the airport’s normally busy spring break and mirrors larger air travel declines both nationally and at Tampa International Airport.

Related: Tampa International Airport projects $30 million budget hit for the year

Allegiant, the dominant airline at the Pinellas airport, is flying on a reduced schedule. Suspended until further notice are Sunwing Airlines’ flights to Canada and Sun Country’s charters to the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino.

The airport, which is owned and operated by Pinellas County, has said an $8.7 million pandemic relief grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will cover payroll costs for its 59 full-time employees.

Starting Tuesday, the airport will use its secondary runway for takeoffs and landings for four days as a contractor begins work on a $24.1 million job to rehabilitate the main runway. That will mean a temporary increase in jet noise for residents of Feather Sound, Largo, Seminole, Pinellas Park, Redington Shores, Redington Beach, and North Redington Beach.

Related: St. Pete-Clearwater airport to switch runways during repaving job

In preparation for flights to ramp back up, the airport is putting new health and safety protocols in place. They include:

• Arriving at least two hours before your flight. Allegiant’s ticket counters are open only during flight operations, but posts updates to allegiantair.com/travel-advisory-more-info.

• People picking up passengers should use the cell phone parking lot and not go inside the terminal. Long-term parking is open. Customers needing to pick up a car from the economy lots, which are closed, can get a ride from United Taxi with free vouchers provided by the airport. More information is posted in the baggage claim area.

• The airport has increased sanitizing operations for all hard surfaces and high-touch areas and installed more hand sanitizing stations and plexiglass shields at work stations. Passengers should cover their faces while in the terminal and follow social distancing instructions and seating restrictions posted in the terminal.

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