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Stimulus bill helps Oneida County Airport amid sharp decrease in trafficSubmitted: 03/27/2020
Stimulus bill helps Oneida County Airport amid sharp decrease in traffic
Andrew Goldstein
Andrew Goldstein
Sports Anchor/Reporter
agoldstein@wjfw.com

RHINELANDER - With flights well below capacity during the coronavirus outbreak, the waiting area at the Rhinelander-Oneida County airport is empty, at a time when airport director Matthew Leitner says twice-daily flights from Rhinelander to Minneapolis are usually pretty full.

"This time of year, we're usually seeing about 60 percent [full]" Leitner said. "Of course, we're pretty far below that now."

According to Leitner, Rhinelander's airport is far from alone.

"Whether it's Chicago or Boston or Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, everyone's down 75 to 90 percent and I don't think we're an exception," Leitner said.


Despite the drop-off, Rhinelander's airport remains open, to service both shipping routes and passenger flights to and from Minneapolis.

Federal government subsidies have kept Delta from scaling back on that route in the immediate future, but Leitner says that's not a long-term guarantee.

"Time will tell what they decide to do, but we haven't received any indication, at least at this very moment, that it will be cut," Leitner said.

Regardless of what Delta decides, the airport will be able to keep going.

The $2 trillion stimulus bill signed into law Friday contains $32 billion for the airline industry.

Enough of that money will likely go to the Oneida County Airport to keep them solvent through the worst of the virus even if there are no passengers.

"From what we could discern, it would be [enough for] about four months, without any passengers, so that would take us into July," Leitner said.

Leitner hopes that once the worst is over, full Delta flights will once again return to the airport.

"They're a great partner and we're willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they're successful," Leitner said.


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