LANSING, Mich. — More mid-Michigan travelers are taking to the skies as COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up.
“We’re starting to see that demand come back up and the airlines are responding,” said Robert Benstein, Capital Region International Airport's interim president and CEO.
In 2019, Capital Region International had 178,000 boardings. Last year, that number dropped to 67,000.
Benstein said Spring Break is driving the airport’s recent travel surge. “We had some airlines actually add some flights due to the spring break demand,” he said.
Some travelers still remember what flying during the pandemic was like this time last year.
“It was like ghost town,” said Paris Thompson.
Thompson believes things are slowly returning to normal.
“The busier airports like LaGuardia have been consistently busy, but at certain airports, it’s just the timing of the day more than anything.”
As airline travel continues to increase, Benstein says Capital Region International is upping its safety protocols by installing some new features. The airport will soon have ionization air filters that kill germs and UV sanitizers on the handrails of the escalators. Touchless devices will also be built into the airport's bathrooms.
Local health experts are still urging people to take precaution as Michigan’s COVID-19 positivity rate climbs.
Benstein expects increased travel to stretch into the next few months
“Airlines are seeing increased bookings over the summer period as well, so I think there’s a lot of pent up demand and people are looking forward to getting out.”
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