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Pandemic Again Reducing Tampa International Airport Flights

The August decline at Tampa International follows a strong summer that saw a rebound in air travel. Meantime, Orlando International expects an increase in traffic from last year's Labor Day holiday.

Airlines are again reducing daily flights as bookings fall due to the surge in coronavirus cases. The slowdown is affecting flights at Tampa International Airport.

Nationwide, the number of airline travelers fell more than 6% in August. Those numbers weren't nearly as drastic at Tampa International.

Airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps says the airport had a busy summer as the pandemic seemed to wane, but the number of travelers have trended downward recently.

"This September (is) doing a lot better than last September. But we are still down from our 2019 numbers," Nipps said. "So we are definitely seeing the zest for flying cooling off a little bit."

Nipps said this Labor Day weekend, Tampa International is expecting about 48,000 passengers a day. That's down significantly from the last pre-pandemic September in 2019, when the airport averaged closer to 60,000 passengers a day.

The August decline in traffic follows a strong summer that saw a rebound in air travel. Nipps said the real test of whether the industry is rebounding will come over the upcoming holiday season.

Meantime, traffic at Orlando International Airport, Florida’s busiest, is forecast to exceed pre-pandemic crowds during the Labor Day weekend.

Officials at Orlando International said Wednesday they are expecting more than 303,000 departures, a 7% increase above Labor Day weekend in 2019.

If it pans out, that forecast will be more than double what the Orlando airport experienced during the Labor Day weekend travel period last year.

The busiest travel day of the holiday weekend is expected to be on Saturday, when Orlando International Airport is forecast to have more than 53,000 departures.

The official holiday travel period started Thursday and ends next Tuesday.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Copyright 2021 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.