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Passenger numbers fell 62% at MSP Airport in 2020

The Twin Cities airport was slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a drastic reduction in passengers flying through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 2020.

The Metropolitan Airport Commission on Friday confirmed that 14.9 million passengers passed through the Twin Cities airport in 2020, a 62% reduction on the record 39.5 million who used the airport in 2019.

Air travel plummeted as countries shut their borders and many Americans chose to stay home rather than risk spreading the virus.

Some 38.5% of the total traffic through MSP happened in January and February, before the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Minnesota.

These months saw 2.9 million and 2.85 million passengers respectively, but this dropped to 1.78 million in March and then just 150,000 in April, when Minnesota was under a Stay at Home order.

Things started picking back up toward the end of summer, with more than 1 million passengers passing through the airport each month from August to December. However, this remained about a third of typical traffic.

The airport saw 244,911 takeoffs and landings in 2020, compared to 406,076 in 2019 as airlines slashed routes, with some planes dropping as low as 10% of occupied seats at some points during the pandemic, and haven't since recovered above 60%.

"We experienced the largest drop in air travel demand in aviation history in 2020. It will take years to recover,” said Brian Ryks, CEO of the MAC.

"December 2020 brought some of the busiest travel days since the pandemic began, but still far below normal. We hope to see a significant increase in demand in the latter half of 2021, particularly in leisure travel, as the COVID-19 vaccination program moves forward. It will likely take longer to see meaningful recovery in the business and international travel sectors."

Delta remained the most popular airline through MSP, with 68.8% of the passenger share, followed by Sun Country, American, Southwest, and United.

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