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April 2022 markedly different from April 2020, challenges remain

May 26, 2022

Travel continues to stabilize at the Quad Cities International Airport. April 2022 traffic reached more than 48,000 passengers, compared to 36,594 in 2021 and a pandemic-era low of 2,734 in April 2020.

“It’s hard to imagine that two years ago we hit rock bottom with the pandemic, bringing in just under 3,000 passengers,” said Ashleigh Davis, public relations and marketing manager, Quad Cities International Airport. “There are new challenges airports and airlines are facing coming out of the pandemic but we are glad that our lowest point seems to be behind us.”

Industry-wide, demand for leisure travel is meeting or even exceeding 2019 levels. Business travel is starting to return, with analysts predicting full recovery by 2023. While demand is high, airlines are grappling with high fuel prices and staffing shortages that are creating roadblocks to full recovery.

Many airlines have yet to restore their full network, instead focusing their limited resources in areas with the highest demand. At the QC Airport, this is evident with the Delta Air Lines route to Detroit still suspended. The route had been successful prior to the pandemic but Delta is focusing its recovery efforts at other major hubs like Atlanta. In general, service to Detroit across many Delta-served airports has been slow to return. The airport has not been given an update on when service might be restored.

QC Airport leaders have been engaging with airline representatives in an effort to restore frequency of existing routes and explore appetite for new routes. The health and growth of the region are major components of these conversations as airlines seek data that supports why certain routes may be a good fit for their network.

Resource constraints aren’t the only watch-out for this summer. With fewer planes flying and rising fuel costs, seats are coming at a premium and costs are being passed to passengers.

“The cost of airfare is going to give many passengers sticker shock especially for those that have traveled over the past couple of years,” said Davis. “There are still some good fares with traditionally ultra-low-cost-carriers like Allegiant but passengers need to prepare themselves for higher costs across most airlines.”

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