The Effects of COVID on Westchester Country Airport
As some of you may know, KHPN is my home airport and the airport I train out of. Located on the north edge of NYC’s class bravo airspace, HPN is a hub of corporate and GA aircraft, and also sports a healthy amount of commercial flights from Delta (Previously AirTran), United, American, and JetBlue airlines.
Unfortunately, the current world situation has been very unkind to this lesser known airport, and the effects are being felt across the board.
The Beginning of the End
Luckily, HPN employees remained safe from COVID. Only one worker tested positive, and he was quarantined for 14 days along with 5 other employees who were working the same shift. Due to strictly following all guidelines and regulations, HPN’s employees have fortunately remained safe and sound while continuing their work.
Despite the healthy status of its workers, HPN was losing business and traffic. By March 18, 2020, the airport was practically empty. An airport that once had over 1500 cars in its parking lots now had only 200. American Airline’s CRJ service from CLT was the only flight left. It was at this point that HPN decided to fully shut down the airport. On Monday April 27, HPN airport became the first commercial airport to fully shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this shutdown? Airport renovation!
The airport was planning to repave its main runway (34/16) later in the year, but decided to capitalize on the current world situation and lack of traffic to begin their important work. Runway 34/16, which stretches for over 6500 feet, supports the large majority of aircraft that fly into HPN, including all jet aircraft. Over a three week period of time, runway 34/16 was repaved to perfection!
On May 21, 2020, HPN reopened its doors sporting a fresh new runway and new innovations within its passenger terminal to help reduce the spread of COVID. Namely, an advanced escalator that uses UV rays on its railing to sanitize. Despite these shiny new developments, the airport remained practically empty for the next month. Phase 1 of reopening was in place, but many airlines didn’t have the demand required to continue service into such a small airport. As a result, HPN was only servicing a small amount of GA and corporate aircraft throughout the day.
Another new change which remains today is the reduced hours of control tower operation. HPN Tower and Ground now close at 1600L (2000Z) and open at 0600L (1000Z). During those off-hours, HPN becomes an uncontrolled airport. Traffic levels simply don’t demand ATC attention. Having flown into HPN after closing hours, the airport had only 2-3 aircraft making radio calls and was very empty.
The Current Situation
Good news! Just two days ago on July 8th, American Airlines resumed their service from CLT and ORD. The two aircraft arrived early to the airpot and were greeted by an excited ground crew. Unfortunately, American is the only airline to resume flights into HPN.
Here is the current status of commercial operations into HPN.
|Delta||Atlanta (KATL)||Resumes September 1, 2020|
|Delta||Detroit (KDTW)||Resumes September 1, 2020|
|American||Washington D.C. (KDCA)||Resumes August 18, 2020|
|United||Chicago (KORD)||Resumes August 3, 2020|
|JetBlue||Fort Lauderdale (KFLL)||Resumes August 1, 2020|
|JetBlue||West Palm Beach (KPBI)||Resumes August 1, 2020|
|JetBlue||Fort Myers (KRSW)||Resumes August 1, 2020|
|JetBlue||Tampta (KTPA)||Resumes August 1, 2020|
Note: These dates are subject to change and most likely will as the current situation evolves.