FLORENCE, S.C. — Operations at the Florence Regional Airport have slowed down radically as the country continues to battle the coronavirus.
The effect of the coronavirus shutdown on Myrtle Beach has also caused the Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority to cancel bus routes from Lake City and Marion to Myrtle Beach effective at 6 p.m. on Monday.
The Amtrak website indicates that neither of the routes serving Florence, the Palmetto and the Silver Meteor, have yet been affected.
Connie Anderson, executive director of the airport, said the airport staff have seen cancellations and a “tremendous” drop in the number of passengers enplaning or deplaning in South Carolina’s Magic City.
“While we don’t have the exact number from American Airlines, the impact is evident,” Anderson said.
American Airlines is the only regularly scheduled passenger airline to serve the airport. The company currently operates three flights a day from Charlotte Douglas International Airport by way of subsidiaries American Eagle and Piedmont Airlines.
“Currently, our schedule reflects three inbound flights a day but that is subject to change as American is taking a look at them daily,” Anderson continued.
Two flights to and from Florence were canceled on Wednesday.
American flights 4973, scheduled to depart Charlotte at 11:18 a.m. and arrive in Florence at 12:16 p.m., was canceled.
American flight 4774, scheduled to depart Florence at 12:47 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, was also canceled, according to a display board at the American Airlines counter in the airport.
American flight 4857, scheduled to depart Florence at 4:05 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, and flight 5011, scheduled to depart Charlotte at 9:16 p.m. Wednesday night were listed as on-time, according to the American website Wednesday afternoon.
As the number of passengers and flights have decreased, so have revenues for other amenities at the airport.
“The impact has negatively affected our rental car businesses as well as the parking revenue,” Anderson said.
According to the latest information from the transportation authority, all other bus routes are currently operating.
The airport, the transportation authority, and Amtrak are taking precautions to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
Anderson said the airport was making every effort to remain open, and the staff is on a rotating schedule to promote social distancing.
“We remain very diligent in providing a clean and sanitized terminal,” Anderson said.
A media advisory by the authority indicates that buses will be operated with windows open to allow for maximum ventilation, more exits will be available to passengers, passengers will be encouraged to spread out, to have exact change ready to minimize time near the bus operator, and to not bring food or drinks aboard.
The authority will also operate larger buses on commuter routes to allow for spreading out by passengers.
Amtrak’s website indicates that some stations may not be staffed due to the shutdowns of routes and some trains may have cafe service suspended. It also adds that the service is enhancing cleaning protocols, increasing its disinfectant supply, and reinforcing good hygiene practices.