As schools in Hailey—and the Community Campus—go dark this week over fears of coronavirus, the Friedman Memorial Airport will continue operations as usual.
Airport Manager Chris Pomeroy confirmed over the weekend that airport protocol has not changed since the first local diagnosis last Friday, with the exception of increasing “rigorous cleanings” of the terminal and public-use areas and providing passengers with updated information from the CDC.
“We are in communication with our stakeholders including the airlines, TSA, and local elected officials and healthcare experts as the situation continues to develop,” he said.
Neither the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority Board, nor the three Blaine County commissioners—all of whom sit on the airport board—have power to shut down or limit airport activity in Hailey, Commissioner Jacob Greenberg said on Saturday. Any action “will be in conjunction with the FAA,” he said.
Though it may be too early to conclude that second homeowners are returning to the Wood River Valley to weather the outbreak, anecdotal reports and weekend flight data appear to corroborate that activity. Of the six U.S. destinations currently served by airlines at the Friedman Memorial Airport, more passengers from cities with higher number of coronavirus cases—Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco—have been entering the valley.
- According to seat map data from ExpertFlyer.com, an online ticket information aggregator, the airport’s only incoming flight from Seattle on Friday was around 78 percent full, with 59 out of 76 seats occupied. That same day’s SUN-to-Seattle flight was roughly 25 percent full, with 19 out of 76 seats filled.
- A similar imbalance appeared on Saturday: Out of 152 seats on a total of two flights from Seattle to Sun Valley, 93—or 61%—were occupied, seat maps showed, whereas out of 152 seats on outgoing flights from Sun Valley to Seattle, only 66—or 43%—were occupied.
- Flights from SUN to Los Angeles and San Francisco on Friday and Saturday were also less packed than incoming flights from those destinations. On Friday and Saturday, 130 out of 292 seats were filled on flights to Sun Valley from California—around 45 percent—while seat occupancy was only 22 percent on flights from Sun Valley to California.
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