Number of flights from Lincoln Airport about 50% lower than before COVID

Fewer departures are part of national trend

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Smaller airports are having a tougher time getting airlines to invest in them.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a growing number of small airports have fewer flights, and some are at risk of losing service altogether.

In total, the WSJ says 30 airports in the U.S. have lost at least half the departures they had in 2019. Lincoln Airport is one of them.

“The demand has came back as far as passengers are concerned, but not the capacity,” LNK spokeswoman Rachel Barth said. “So airlines have been a little more hesitant to add a lot of flights back in.”

Lincoln Airport is still down 50% in terms of departures.

Barth suggests that the pilot shortage and the rising cost of fuel are contributing factors to this trend across the country.

“Going into 2019, we were seeing some of our highest load factors, highest passenger numbers that we’ve seen for a very, very long time,” Barth said. “Then bam, obviously, we all know what happened with the pandemic, and so we’ve been slowly recovering.”

Earlier this month, LNK announced that it will be providing direct flights to Houston.

The money to bring those flights came from a grant, and the airport is also receiving a $3 million investment to lure in more airlines.

“Airlines, they just don’t come knocking. They want to make sure that there’s an incentive there,” Barth said. “They want to make sure there’s insurance if they show up to new community that that your service isn’t just gonna fail. Having that money from the city and the county is going to be so important for us to get new airlines to Lincoln.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the source of the money for the flights to Houston.

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