SAN ANTONIO – As San Antonio and other cities around Texas continue to see a surge in confirmed coronavirus cases, it seems as though more Americans are feeling more comfortable about getting on planes.
While airline travel isn’t anywhere close to pre-pandemic levels, it did rebound a bit last month as airports and airlines put precautions in place.
“I’m comfortable on flying,” airline passenger Bill Been said Monday morning at the San Antonio International Airport.
He was one of few people who headed onto a flight the day after a major holiday weekend. Been said he and his wife are heading to Kentucky for an event they’ve been anticipating for months.
“We’ve raised American saddlebred horses for 40 years,” Been said.
The airport seems strangely empty these days and there are noticeable changes from just a few months ago.
In “2018 we surpassed 10 million passengers that year, which equated to an average of 30,000 passengers a day, about 15,000 inbound and 15,000 outbound,” said Rich Stinson, the airport’s director of strategic communications.
Then the pandemic hit.
“At the lowest point of the pandemic we were down to just about 100-200 passengers a day, so it impacted us very hard, about a 90%-95% hit,” Stinson said.
Because of the lack of passengers, some flight schedules changed and some even stopped.
“International flights were paused for a period of time but they have now returned and we’re proud at SAT because we think we are the gateway to Mexico,” Stinson said.
But now months into this pandemic, there appears to be a glimmer of hope.
“The month of June we saw that we surpassed 4,000 passengers a day, so we continuously see that increase in passengers every day,” Stinson said.
Other than the lack of passengers, one thing that jumps out is the number of precautions in place, such as sanitation stations all over the airport.
Social distancing markers, cough and sneeze guards, and face coverings for employees are among the safety enhancements throughout the airport.
As for Been and his wife, they are ready and excited for their trip.
“It’s our time to show horses in our breed. Due to the virus, they’ve all been canceled, they’re just now getting fired back up in Kentucky. This is the first opportunity for us to go.”
Here are the safety precautions in place at the San Antonio International Airport.