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West Michigan airports see uptick in Spring Break travelers

Posted at 7:28 AM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 08:35:26-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Spring Break is here which is typically one of the busier times to travel but just like everything else over the past year or so, it looks a bit different this year.

So we went and talked with West Michigan airport officials and travelers about the current travel outlook.

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"We're just excited to be able to get outside and be mask free as much as possible," said Melissa Meiste of Holland who is traveling for Spring Break.

Shane Kellum from Hamilton says the pandemic has not stopped them from traveling.

"We're just going down to Punta Gorda, do a lot of fishing, just spend some time in the beach."

Most of the travelers leaving the Gerald R. Ford International Airport for spring break are eager to take a vacation and don't seem to be worried, or overly concerned with the ongoing pandemic.

"We're sensitive to being cautious," said Dave Ciganick from Bellaire.

Officials at the Ford Airport say they are now preparing for an influx in travelers.

"While it's not quite 2019, it's going to feel a lot like getting the building we're currently expecting anywhere between 50 to 55,000 folks to come through the doors on that first couple of weeks of April, is that traditional spring break period for us so the building's gonna be pretty busy," said Stephen Clark, Director of Commercial Development at the Ford Airport.

The Muskegon Airport is also seeing an uptick in travelers. Newly elected Airport Director Joel Burgess​ says the Muskegon Airport is on track to have Spring Break passenger levels they haven't seen since 2018.

"It’s very apparent that West Michiganders are itching to travel this spring break, and also continuing on in to the summer," Burgess told FOX 17.

The same goes for the Kalamazoo Battle Creek International Airport which is also seeing more people traveling.

"While I don't have any definitive stats I can tell you that traffic is way up over 2020, but still down from 2019," said Craig Williams,Airport Director at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport.

When it comes to keeping passengers safe, Burgess said both the airlines and airport are taking proactive and protective measures to protect the traveling public and employees during the ongoing pandemic. Burgess says the facilities are thoroughly cleaned daily with increased cleaning frequency on high-touch surfaces including counter tops and check-in devices.

"It's really been a process since the beginning of the pandemic for us and ensuring that we have a facility that is safe and healthy for our guests to come through right now," Clark said.

85% of airplanes at the Ford Airport are already full, which is about 15% less than 2 years ago.

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It's exactly why the airport will continue to enforce the usual protocols with their customers when dealing with the pandemic.

"We ask our guests, when they come into the Ford Airport, as soon as they come to the doors, put the mask on, it's the most basic level thing that we can do to ensure we protect everybody," Clark said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that you don't travel at all right now, they say it can increase your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19.

The airports recommend arriving 60-90 minutes before your flight.