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AZO still has fewer flights than before the COVID-19 pandemic

A photo of the check-in counters at the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek Regional Airport with the logos of American Airlines, Avelo Airlines, and Delta Airlines on the left wall. A pink warbird aircraft hangs above. There are five people in the photo: two employees checking people in, two people getting checked in and one person waiting in line to be checked in.
Kalloli Bhatt
Passengers get checked in for flights at the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport, March 6, 2024.

The average number of flights at the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport is six per day, down from 14 before the pandemic.

Air travel plummeted in the early days of the pandemic. But even when people began to fly again, things did not go back to ‘normal’ at many regional airports.

Some airlines, including United, said they were short on pilots and planned to focus on bigger cities. Craig Williams directs Kalamazoo’s airport. He says United Airlines pulled its service in January 2022.

“So we’ve seen them leave the market entirely, but Delta and American are still here,” he said. “They just have less flights per day than they used to.”

Williams said that instead of making more flights with smaller planes, airlines are opting for fewer flights with larger planes. He added that increasingly, airlines have also opted to fly passengers through larger hubs rather than regional airports.

The airport did gain service in October 2022 from budget airline Avelo, which has seasonal flights to Orlando.

Tamerah Mboup was at the airport March 6 to catch an Avelo flight.

“In the past, I’ve looked at flights from Kalamazoo versus other airlines, and, normally, it is more expensive, but this one was very affordable pricing,” she said.

Mboup said it was her first time flying out of Kalamazoo.

Anita Williams was also traveling from the Kalamazoo airport March 6. She said the local airport has advantages and downsides.

“It’s easier, but when you leave here then you have to go to Detroit because they don’t have no straight connections here,” she said.

Williams said she’s flown from the airport three times in total.