If you look for light at the end of the tunnel, you might see an American Airlines plane taking off from Kalamazoo.  That’s something that hasn’t happened for the past three months.  As of today, January 5th, the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic hit a bright note as American resumed daily flights.

“We welcome American’s return to Kalamazoo and the access they provide to their extensive network of domestic and international destinations. Throughout the pandemic, American assured the Airport of their commitment to SW Michigan and their return confirms that commitment,” said Airport Director, Craig Williams.

American will operate one flight daily to/from their Chicago O’Hare gateway. The flights are timed to maximize the number of domestic and international connections over Chicago O’Hare.  That’s great news to many West Michigan travelers.

Dan Saber lives in Marshall but is President and CFO of Accurate Ingredients.  The company buys and sells food ingredients internationally, and has offices on both coasts.   Saber is an American Airline frequent flyer and says he often would bump into Kellogg, Kalsec, or Pfizer employees on flights out of Kalamazoo.  “It makes a huge difference in travel, especially if you’re going west,” said Saber.  “Once you get to O’Hare, you have a lot of options, especially to the west.   And flying out of Kalamazoo means you don’t have to fight traffic in Chicago, fight bad weather around the lake, or find a parking spot at O’Hare which costs close to $35 per day.  It’s also very easy to get in and out of the Kalamazoo airport.”

But Saber, who has spent a career traveling on airplanes, hasn’t been on a plane since March.  “With COVID-19 restrictions, there are no more 2-3 day business trips.   Conventions are still canceled.   Business is being done on Zoom.”

Airport Director Williams said the Kalamazoo airport is down 70% from year to year, and they are highly dependent on business travel.   “We hope that as people become more confident in the coming months, that business travel may open up”.   He says he’s hearing that Pfizer employees are flying a bit more, as you might expect.  “Working from home has resulted in increased personal travel,” said Williams. “Since people can work from anywhere, they are taking the opportunities to visit family or friends more often.”

Working from home could also result in more spring travel to warm destinations like Florida or Arizona.  The Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport also offers flights through Delta and United.  Williams says they are always talking with other carriers, but there aren’t any new options for discount flights to some of those warm destinations.   If you’re planning one now, you could do it for about $295 round-trip out of Kalamazoo in early March.  Granted, you could do it a lot cheaper out of Detroit or Chicago, but flying out of Kalamazoo certainly has its advantages.

Courtesy of Google Street View
Courtesy of Google Street View
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