OWB Numbers Climbing Back After Pandemic

April 25, 2022

Apr. 23—After a global pandemic of more than two years brought increased regulations and decreased passengers to the airline industry, Tristan Durbin, Owensboro Daviess County Regional Airport director, is saying those numbers are climbing back toward pre-pandemic levels at OWB.

The airport currently offers passenger service to Orlando, Florida by Allegiant Air, as well as to St. Louis and Nashville by Cape Air.

"The small commuter flights, which tend to be a lot of business corporate travel, of course connecting to St. Louis and Nashville, those flights, we saw the numbers of those dip pretty significantly," Durbin said.

Things started to change at OWB in about March 2021, when the airport began seeing its passenger numbers creeping back up.

According to statistics provided by Cape Air, the airline actually saw a 15% increase in passengers during last March compared to March 2019.

"For the most part, they are about 75-80% back to their pre-pandemic numbers," Durbin said.

A significant part of that boost for Cape Air is the addition of flights to and from Nashville. Durbin said the airline began offering flights to and from Nashville in January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"During that time, Cape Air and the airport were both trying to market and promote a new destination and a new option out of our community into Nashville at the very beginning stages of a pandemic; so it was kind of a really difficult obstacle that we faced...," Durbin said. "It is difficult to promote individuals to travel in the middle of a pandemic, so we backed off some efforts in doing so."

In February, OWB announced a new flight schedule with midday flights to and from Nashville departing about two hours later than the original pre-pandemic schedule.

"We have seen quite a bit of success with the modified flight schedule," Durbin said.

While the change, which affects three daily Cape Air flights that are out and return from OWB, features a lot of moving parts,

Durbin said it essentially has allowed more time for for individuals from other communities or airports to fly from Nashville to Owensboro.

Despite the uncertainty brought by the pandemic, Durbin said he was never in fear of the Owensboro community permanently losing its air service providers.

"We have a great relationship with both Allegiant and Cape Air, both of those airlines have been providing service in and out of Owensboro for a long time and with that have come some strong relationships between the airport, the community and the airline," Durbin said. "We are very fortunate, there were a lot of communities and a lot of airports that did lose a lot of service, and I think the Owensboro/ Daviess County community was very fortunate that we did not suffer any major flight cancellations due to the pandemic."

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