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‘It’s happening quite rapidly’: PDX sees drop in passengers, more reductions expected

Several airlines, including United Airlines and Sun Country have canceled routes.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland International Airport saw a 10% drop in passengers last week, as fears surrounding coronavirus continued to grow.

"The economic impact is going to be big," warned Dan Pippenger, chief operating officer for the Port of Portland.

Pippenger warned the port commission Wednesday a reduction in passengers will impact all aspects of airport operations including parking, ground transportation, restaurants, rental cars and revenue from landing fees.

Pippenger said he was surprised how much demand had dropped in recent days.

"It’s happening quite rapidly," Pippenger said.

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PDX has already seen a reduction in flight schedules. United Airlines went from 20 daily departures to 16. Sun Country canceled several routes and Delta's nonstop flight from Portland to Tokyo has been suspended through May 31.

"We do anticipate more reductions in flight schedules, although it is uncertain when those would happen," Pippenger said.

Bookings for future flights through PDX also provide a grim outlook.

PDX had 571,506 bookings in February 2020, compared to 740,389 in 2019, a 23% decline, according to the Sabre reservation booking data.

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Last week, parking transactions were down 14% at PDX, according to the port of Portland.

The Port is looking to reduce expenses to offset a decline in revenue, according to Pippenger.

Additionally, the Port is working with restaurants and retailers to help them deal with a decrease in customers at PDX.

"We don’t know how long it is going to last," Pippenger said. "We think there will be a long-term impact."

In Oregon, the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low, according to officials. At KGW, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: kgw.com/FactsNotFear

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