Local aviation industry taking off again after early pandemic turbulence

DETROIT – Since March the coronavirus pandemic has hurt the American commercial aviation industry.

Slowly, the industry is making a comeback. A lesser known, yet important corner of that business is the general aviation industry.

On Monday in Oakland County Local 4 News got a look at the damage to that sector and the recovery process.

Pentastar Aviation is on M-59 which is part of the Oakland County International Airport. It turns out that this was the first local aviation airport in the entire country, dating back to the 1920s and it has serious impact on Michigan’s economy and also, because of the coronavirus, it has taken quite a hit.

The Oakland County International Airport is the second busiest in the State of Michigan behind Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

It used to depend largely on automotive executive and cargo flights, but that has been changing.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter says Michigan’s general aviation business is a quiet giant.

“Michigan ranks 9th in the nation for number of aircraft based here, number nine, it’s a huge part of our economy. We rank 13 in the number of public and private airports.” Coulter said.

To date, they’re reporting 76,000 takeoffs and landings there, sounds good until you realize there were just under 100,000.

Considering this kind of high end travel accounts for $1.5 billion a year in revenue to the county, it’s a $300 million hit.

“So the airport has had to reduce hours, the number of airport personnel during the stay at home, stay safe program the governor has issued under her orders. But the good news is we are back and working at full strength as well and it’s great news as the economy has rebounded, we’re hoping for a rebound. We’ve brought employees back to the airport,” said Coulter.

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