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At Gainesville's Airport, Flights Continue Amid COVID-19 Shutdown

Despite COVID-19 putting a hold on many travel plans, Gainesville Regional Airport remains operational. (Kayla Price/WUFT News)
Despite COVID-19 putting a hold on many travel plans, Gainesville Regional Airport remains operational. (Kayla Price/WUFT News)

Delta and American Airlines are still flying in and out of Gainesville Regional Airport in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the wake of the spread of COVID-19, travelers internationally have postponed or canceled non-essential trips. In Gainesville, the airport parking lot stands nearly empty most of the time.

“There has been a significant change in passenger loads, and we have been experiencing canceled flights,” said Erin Porter, Gainesville Regional Airport’s marketing and public relations manager.

But both Delta and American Airlines, Gainesville Regional Airport’s two partner airlines, continue to operate at the airport, sending and receiving flights to four major hubs: Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Charlotte and Miami. Flight patterns have not been changed because of the virus, Porter said.

As flights come and go, Gainesville Regional Airport is continuing to take precautions to combat the spread of the virus.

“We take our cues from the Department of Health and the CDC,” Porter said. “We participate in countywide emergency meetings, joint calls organized by various departments in the State of Florida and teleconference calls held by the CDC, the DOH and the Alachua County EOC.”

The airport has posted signs from the CDC and DOH explaining best practices, what to do if patrons experience symptoms and phone numbers to call with any concerns, Porter said.

Gainesville Regional Airport continues to follow its normal practice of strict cleaning protocols, with hand sanitizer dispensaries located at baggage claim, the ticket office, gates and the TSA checkpoint.

“All of our employees practice good hygiene, and if they have symptoms, they know to stay home and what steps to take,” Porter said.

No airport employees have been let go or furloughed, Porter said. Some have been asked to work from home. The airport has 385 full-time and part-time employees.

Gainesville Regional Airport canceled Gator Fly-In and Armed Services Appreciation Day, held in conjunction with University Air Center, which was to be held on March 21. The event was to honor Gator Aviators and all branches of the military.

Delta Airlines is currently waiving change and cancelation fees for flights booked through May 31, 2020. American Airlines is also offering waived change fees for flights booked through May 31, 2020. Both airlines are experiencing high call wait times, and advise their passengers not to call unless they will be traveling within the next 72 hours.

Flight information for departures and arrivals through Gainesville Regional Airport can be found on the airport website.

Kayla is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.