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Friedman Memorial Airport’s commercial traffic fell off 98 percent in May, largely due to COVID-19, but spiking private traffic picked up much of the slack.

Though Friedman Memorial Airport reported a 98 percent year-over-year decrease in commercial traffic for the month of May, overall operations were down only 4 percent last month due to an uptick in takeoffs and landings by private planes.

“In part because of the nicer weather last month, we saw a lot of smaller aircraft flying into the backcountry and pilots out training,” airport Manager Chris Pomeroy said during a Friedman Memorial Airport Authority board meeting last week. “A lot of that activity figured into our overall operations for May.”

Fly Sun Valley Alliance Executive Director Carol Waller said the airport is preparing for a slight increase in passengers next week as daily nonstop flights to Denver begin Saturday, June 20.

“The expectation, of course, is that the demand is not going to be what we’re used to—probably not even close, but that remains to be seen,” she said. “We have less capacity, but still great access.”

Waller added that even though the summer schedule had been finalized last month, schedules could be subject to change.

“It’ll probably be a bit of a moving target as we go through the summer, but we should be pleased that we were able to maintain service to our major destinations,” she said.

In light of COVID-19, Pomeroy said, distancing stickers have been installed on the floor near kiosks, furniture has been reorganized and couches have been moved out of the baggage claim. Passengers will also be asked to complete surveys online by logging into airport Wi-Fi.

“It’s a touchless way to still get very valuable information,” Waller said.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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