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Austin airport sees more than 1 million monthly passengers for the first time since pandemic

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport saw more than one million monthly passengers in May, charting its pandemic rebound. (Claire Partain/Austonia)

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is recouping its passenger volume after months of depressed demand due to the pandemic.

More than 1.1 million passengers flew through the airport in May, marking the first time monthly traffic has exceeded one million since February 2020, according to ABIA.

(Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)

Although passenger traffic was up nearly 746% in May 2021 compared to May 2020, it remains short of the traffic volume recorded in May 2019, indicating that air travel demand has not yet fully recovered.

Industry experts and ABIA officials have said that leisure travel is approaching pre-pandemic levels as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the ongoing reopening. But business and international travel are likely to recover more slowly as businesses evolve their remote-work policies and foreign governments loosen their travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

The rapid spread of the Delta variant may also impact international air travel, with some countries, such as Portugal and Israel, reimposing or extending travel restrictions in an effort to mitigate its reach.

Despite these pandemic-related concerns, the future of ABIA looks bright. Airport officials announced a new expansion program last week that is intended to meet rising demand. The expansion will include building a midfield concourse—with at least 10 new gates and two new taxiways—that is connected to the Barbara Jordan Terminal via an underground tunnel.

Since opening in 1999, ABIA has tripled its passenger numbers. Between 2011 and 2019 it was the third fastest-growing airport in the country. Although the pandemic had a catastrophic impact on airports around the country, with ABIA traffic plummeting 95% last April, the latest traffic report indicates a rebound.

ABIA expects that demand this summer will match or surpass that of summer 2019, according to a press release. The airport set its current record for passenger travel in July 2019.

"The long-term plan for (ABIA) is a win for all customers and stakeholders and will ensure the airport is able to keep pace with rising demand for many years to come," CEO Jacqueline Yaft wrote in a memo sent to City Council on Tuesday.

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What's new in Austin food & drink this week:

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  • Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
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