KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — As fully vaccinated people have been given the 'ok' to travel by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, experts said Monday could be the busiest day at America's airports during the pandemic.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports screening more than seven million people between Thursday and Sunday at airports across the country. That is a 584% increase from last year.
At the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, the airport director said they're seeing a larger number of travelers too.
"We’re seeing things loosen up in terms of passengers are coming back," said Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport's Airport Director Craig Williams. Each month the numbers are better month over month."
It was a holiday weekend topped with fully vaccinated travelers itching to get out and go. Airports across the country were busy.
"The flights are full this weekend," Williams said. "They’re expecting just every seat to be filled. It is that kind of busy weekend."
Kalamazoo|Battle Creek International Airport is busy too, seeing a record number of passengers since the beginning of the pandemic.
Williams said they are seeing flights at a capacity of 90% or above.
"Right now, we are having about 350 passengers is what we expect for the days for the weekend," Williams said. "That is still not where we were in 2019 because of the changes in capacities that the airlines have put in the market."
The airport saw 12,370 total passengers in April 2020 which was up from 881 in April 2020. That's an increase of 1,404%.
"We anticipate it to be higher," Williams said. "We can see based on the TSA throughput from the screening that it is certainly much higher than it was in May of 2020."
While the airport has been busy, it is still not seeing numbers like what was seen in 2019 and before that.
Williams said he is hoping to see it climb as more people gain their travel confidence back.
"For Kalamazoo specifically, as there are certainly more people taking the vaccine and confidence in travel has growing, and as people return to work, here will be more business travel that is happening," Williams said. "The markets and airlines are going to serve the airport with to meet the demand, and we are excited to see that return."
The airport director said he is expecting May to have higher numbers than both March and April.
He also said the numbers kick off a busy start to the summer.