COLONIE — Albany International Airport is now seeing some of the uptick in air travel that other airports nationwide have experienced in March.
The increase over the first two months of 2021 is not huge, and the number of passengers flying out of Albany each day is still far less than 2019. But the numbers have improved, particularly when compared to the same dates in 2020, when the state economy was put on hold because of COVID.
“People are anticipating an end to the COVID crisis,” Albany County Airport Authority spokesman Doug Myers said Wednesday. “They have been vaccinated. They have seen lower hospitalization rates, lower death rates. And they have more confidence not only in airlines but in the entire travel experience.”
March 18 was the airport’s busiest day so far in 2021, with 2,441 people passing through the security checkpoint. This compares with a daily average of about 5,000 in a non-peak travel period before the pandemic.
Myers said the airport is still fully on a pandemic footing:
- Masks are required everywhere in the terminal and on planes
- Social distancing is maintained
- National Guard members are taking contact tracing forms from arriving travelers
- Sanitizing procedures are extensive for staff and options are ubiquitous for the public
- Tests, quarantines and vaccine are all still recommended for travelers
- And ultimately, travel is discouraged if not necessary
Nationally, the Transportation Security Administration reports performing an average of 1.28 million security checks per day in the two weeks from March 10 to March 23.
This compares with 814,000 a day in January and February.
Checkpoint volume nationwide hit new 12-month highs on March 12 (1.36 million), March 19 (1.47 million) and March 21 (1.54 million).
By comparison, an average of 2.08 million travelers a day went through TSA checkpoints from Jan. 1 to March 23, 2019.
Some of the recent uptick is likely due to spring break travel by students, which the federal Centers for Disease Control has warned against, but airlines are reporting that longer-term bookings also are increasing for the summer travel season.