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HIA feeling effect of reduced travel because of coronavirus, spokesman says; cleaning increased

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Reduced business travel in light of the coronavirus is already affecting Harrisburg International Airport.

The airport started to see the impact last week and it is picking up this week, airport spokesman Scott Miller tells the Press & Journal.

Indicators of the impact can be seen in reduced revenue from parking and concession sales, and by the number of people going through security in the main terminal.

Anecdotally, travelers known to the airport as frequent fliers are talking about restrictions on business travel that are being imposed by their companies, Miller said.

Combine that with the lesser impact on HIA of reduced international travel and the toll could be a 10 percent drop in passenger traffic for 2020 compared to 2019, Miller said.

“That’s a guess,” he said, as there are too many unknowns to project with certainty. “This situation is constantly changing on a day-to-day basis.”

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced a 30-day ban on travel to the United States by Europeans.

2019 was the best year in HIA history in terms of passenger traffic. That trend was still continuing through January 2020, which was the best January in HIA history, Miller said.

Passenger traffic was still “very strong” throughout February although final numbers aren’t in yet.

Miller sees the travel restrictions put in place regarding Europe as having little impact, as travel to Europe was 1 percent of HIA’s overall traffic in 2019.

International traffic in general makes up about 7 percent of people flying in and out of HIA and most of that is to Canada and Mexico.

International travelers are being screened for coronavirus before they get to HIA, at the major “gateway” airports where people arrive first before connecting to places like HIA.

Otherwise, Miller said cleaning companies that work for HIA are stepping up efforts to keep the terminal as clean as possible, paying more regular attention for example to things like hand rails on the stairs and escalator, elevator buttons, and restrooms.

“We are operating pretty much business as normal but with an added focus on doing everything we can from a cleaning and disinfectant standpoint,” Miller said.