Formerly bustling airports turn to wide open spaces in midst of coronavirus shutdown – Daily News

on Mar26
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With nearly the entire country now on orders to stay home in attempt to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, air travel has come to almost a complete standstill.

Los Angeles International Airport was about as desolate as could be on Wednesday, March 25, as empty buses circled the horseshoe uncharacteristically devoid of traffic jams, car horns, and — well — travelers. Those who have been flying, though non-essential travel is discouraged, posted photos to social media showing empty flight cabins.

“Thanks to @Delta for flying mostly empty planes so I can get back home from a funeral! I know it’s gotta be costly, but it’s greatly appreciated!” wrote Twitter user Wendi @trebleclefme.

Similar scenes played out on flights and in airports around the world, including within the region at Long Beach Airport, John Wayne International Airport in Orange County as well as Ontario International and Hollywood Burbank airports.

Travel on Sunday, March 22, was down 80% compared to the same day in 2019, according to LAX spokesman Heath Montgomery.

Channesha Williams, 26, said she considered herself among the lucky ones still working full shifts driving a bus for LAX-It, the shuttle service that unveiled in October to ferry passengers to an area to pick up ride-shares and taxis. She said the service went from about 30 buses to 15 leading to shortened hours and some layoffs.

“I like working and keeping busy,” Williams said. “It seems like a ghost town around here.”

In February, when the airport first began to see the real impacts from the coronavirus epidemic, international trips were down almost 10% and domestic travel decreased 1.35% compared to February of 2019, Montgomery said.

“With the continued reduction and cancellation of flights in the U.S. and at LAX and directives from the government and public health officials to only fly for essential travel, we know that March will reflect an even greater reduction in passengers compared to the previous year,” Montgomery wrote in a statement.

For travelers such as Anne Santa Elena from San Diego, reduced flight schedules meant several cancelled flights and changed plans. Santa Elena traveled home from the Philippines on Wednesday where the government last week cancelled all Visas to foreign nationals recently effectively forcing thousands to flee the country. Visas issued to foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals remain valid.

“They first said we had 12 hours to get out,” Santa Elena said. “Then they lifted that after complaints.”

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