ST. CLOUD -- It's probably no surprise that traffic at the St. Cloud Regional Airport was down last year, but not as much as you might think.

Airport Director Bill Towle says they were only down about 25 percent for total passengers in 2020 compared to 2019.

For me, that's pretty darn good.  Of course, we're more of a leisure market with Allegiant and that seemed to rebound faster than some of the business stuff.  As I talk to some of the other airports and look at airline numbers, most of the country is down 50 percent or more.

Towle says looking at the bookings for the next 30 days they are in the 75 percent load factor range. Allegiant Airlines never stopped their regular flights to and from Mesa, Arizona last year. The regular flights to and from Punta Gorda, Florida have always been seasonal and they returned in the middle of December.

Allegiant Airlines is offering the same amount of flights in and out of St. Cloud in the first quarter of this year as they did during the same period last year.  Towle says their goal always is to try and grow the number of flights, but given the difficulties, airlines have had due to COVID-19 he's happy with the status quo. In fact, Towle says Allegiant has even brought in a bigger airplane.

They were flying A319 and A320s for the most part, now it's all A320s for us and it's the extended version so they can fit a few more seats on there, so we're really happy with that.

The Sun Country charter flights to Laughlin, Nevada typically happen once a month, but Towle says the last one was in December and there is nothing on the schedule right now.

The plan to create a Regional Airport Authority was delayed in 2020 due to COVID-19, but Towle says he's hopeful they can get that done by the end of this year.

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