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Airport numbers improve

News File Photo Passengers exit a flight into Alpena from Detroit in this January 2019 News archive photo.

The total number of passengers coming and going from the Alpena County Regional Airport continues to tick upward, but it may be some time until enplanement numbers rise to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

Airport Manager Steve Smigelski on Friday announced that last month, there were 741 enplanements at the airport, which easily exceeded the 477 from March of last year, when the nation was in the heart of its lockdown to slow the spread of the virus and traveling was not encouraged.

Through the end of March, there were 1,653 paying flyers, which is a touch behind the total for the same timeframe last year when there were 2,384. The first two months of last year were much stronger than this year, as the pandemic had not yet reached the United States.

Smigelski said in an email that he didn’t want to wait until after the Easter holiday to release the encouraging totals.

“I Just couldn’t resist passing on some promising news,” he said.

If the airport meets its 10,000 enplanement goal, it is eligible for a $1 million subsidy from the federal government. Should they miss that total, finances remain strong, as the airport received nearly $18 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act stimulus package last year. The money will be used to fund operations, and other projects that are in the pipeline.

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