Air travel rebounds in Oregon - economist
Air travel passenger counts are about 80% recovered, nationally, and have picked up due to strong household finances and pent-up demand, says the Oregon state economist Josh Lehner, an economist at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.
Lehner looked at passenger counts from Oregon's larger airports. "In keeping with the major theme that it is the lagging in-person activities weighing on urban economies, the PDX passenger counts are still down around 30%, compared with our regional airports which have nearly fully recovered this summer."
Eugene, Medford, and Redmond have all experienced nearly identical patterns over the past 18 months.
However, he pointed out, the Portland International Airport numbers reflect those nationally, even though they are less busy than airports such as Denver (DIA), Salt Lake (SLC) and Nashville (BNA).
Lehner, continued, saying, "Yes, they're 8-10 percentage points lower, but given the broader narrative that has seeped into the conventional wisdom, Portland really isn't lagging too terribly much."
He said surveys show PDX is more dependent on business travel than most airports.
He noted that Denver, Salt Lake and Nashville are naturally busier, being hubs rather than destinations like Portland, and their economies have bounced back quicker from having less COVID restrictions than the west coast, especially when it comes to jobs in leisure and hospitality and education.
Lehner's bottom line is that air travel is continuing to rebound, especially in regional airports. Big west coast cities, however, still have reduced air travel demand because people of the stay home mindset:
"Big, west coast metros continue to lag the recovery in part due to working from home, in part due to the lack of business travel, and in part due to the lack of in-person activities that cities traditionally thrive on. Even so, when it comes to Portland's relative performance, it seems to be much more a matter of degree, not kind."
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