2021 Entrepreneurial Awards

Leisure Travel is Helping Smaller Airports

Smaller Michigan airports outside the state’s major metropolitan centers are getting by with a focus on travel for pleasure.

Although the coronavirus pandemic took a significant bite out of business travel, smaller Michigan airports outside the state’s major metropolitan centers are getting by with a focus on travel for pleasure.

“We have certainly seen a decrease in business travelers here at LAN. Our business has almost entirely shifted to leisure travelers as we see businesses around the region and the world put a stop on any travel,” said Spencer Flynn, marketing manager for the Capital Region Airport Authority. “Overall, however, as a regional airport, we are seeing better numbers than many of the large airports around the country. Many passengers find a midsized airport to be a more comfortable experience, particularly during these times.”

Bishop International Airport in Flint, the third-busiest airport in Michigan after Detroit and Grand Rapids, was down about 40% in 2020.

“We’re actually recouping faster than others,” said Patricia Corfman, director of marketing, public relations and air service development for the airport. “Our numbers are above both the state and nation. I think it’s because we’re outside of a major airport (like Detroit), and we’re mostly leisure travel. We’ve actually been adding flights to cities like Nashville, Las Vegas and Charlotte, so that has helped.”

MBS International Airport, based in Freeland and about 60 miles northwest of Bishop Airport, has seen a huge dip in business travel because of the virus.

“We’re down about 60-63%,” said James Canders, airport director. “It’s been a pretty flat second and third quarter. We usually see a spike in the March and April because of spring vacations. But we expect a bit of a dry spell the next five or six months.”

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