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Air travel still down from last year, officials report increase in traffic

Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 8:21 PM CDT
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TOWN OF GREENVILLE, Wis. (WBAY) - Air travel is expected to get a boost this winter, with TSA officials reporting the number of people flying across the country hit a high over the holiday weekend.

That high hasn’t been seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and northeast Wisconsin is feeling the impact of the increase in air travel.

Although air traffic at the Appleton International Airport is still down significantly from this time last year, officials at Fox World Travel say there’s evidence of demand coming back.

“We look at the TSA numbers every day. On the TSA website, they post the numbers and on the third of September for the first time since March 17 they exceeded 800,000,” said Rose Gray of Fox World Travel.

Many of those flying are looking for warmer destinations, which is one reason American Airlines is adding a route to Charlotte from Appleton, which will operate daily starting November 5.

“The Charlotte route is perfect for us because it adds another gateway into the southeast United States plus all the great connections it adds into the Caribean, 40% of our travelers head to the southeast of the United States every single day,” said Abe Weber, the Appleton Airport Director.

Many of the most popular destinations are those that aren’t requiring a COVID-19 test after entering.

“Right now Cancun, Riviera Maya is very open to American tourists and we’re seeing a surge of people now traveling there or looking to travel there before the end of 2020,” said Gray.

Action 2 News is also told that many people buying airline tickets are vacation travelers who recently canceled previous plans because of the pandemic.

At least right now, Appleton airport officials say most of their flights are still less than half full on average.

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