Transportation Secretary Chao: Telework Amid COVID-19 Has 'Tremendous Impact' on Transportation Network

Jets are parked on a runway at the Pittsburgh International Airport in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Due to decreased flights as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, planes are being stacked and parked at the airport.
Photo credit Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
By NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. earlier this year, telework became an immediate necessity for many Americans as the the country took action to mitigate the spread of the virus.

While working remotely has been a saving grace for many industries and businesses, it also hurts others such as the airline industry, as fewer people are traveling for work or pleasure.

"Telework is having tremendous impact on the volume using our transportation network," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao told KDKA Radio Tuesday. "Airlines, for example, are experiencing about a 96 percent drop in passenger volume. Transit has experienced about a 98 percent drop. And we've got airports, that have obviously seen tremendous revenue drops as well because no one's coming through the airport."

Earlier in the day, Chao announced $273 million in federal grant money for airport safety and infrastructure at airports across 41 states and five territories.

She said these funds are needed and helpful at a time like this. Even though passenger volume is not very high right now, Chao said we need to keep the airports open and operating. "Because when the economy comes back, when all the air passenger volume comes back, these airports still need to be there - operational and safe."