After a steep decline in travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is finally starting to see traffic return, slowly but surely.
Sunday marked the busiest day the airport had seen since the onset of the pandemic, with 11,006 passengers passing through the terminal on over 100 outbound flights. This traffic is a shift back toward normalcy, as business had dropped by about 97% in April.
Public information specialist senior Bryce Dubee said traffic has been on a gradual incline for the past few months. A dozen discontinued routes have now been restored and airport traffic is only down by 70%.
"We are seeing a trend in the positive direction, albeit very gradually," Dubee said. "A lot of that's the reflection of just more flights, meaning more passengers."
Dubee said with COVID-19 restrictions, business travel has essentially disappeared, leaving mostly leisure travel coming through the terminal. Traffic is still much lower than it would be during the holiday season, one of the busier times of year. A busy day during the holiday season meant more than 20,000 people flying.
Though the airport is on the road to recovery, Dubee said he doesn't expect the airport to be back up to pre-COVID-19 numbers for years to come.
"Right now industry wide, the overall recovery process is depending on several things and I think the overall recovery at this point is going to be several years before we get back to those numbers that we were seeing in 2019," Dubee said. "We're catching back up to where we were but it's not going to be an immediate recovery. This is going to be a long gradual process to work through for us."
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Citing a 77% decline in new COVID cases nationally since early January, Dr. Martin Makary, a surgical oncologist and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, expects COVID-19 "will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life."
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Travis County is the ninth most at-risk county in the nation for severe vaccine deficits and the second most at-risk in the state, according to a study by data science company Cogitativo.
Late (Tuesday) the City of Austin's outside attorney filed a response to the plaintiffs' (called relators in legal terms) request for a writ of mandamus to force the City Council to amend ballot language for Proposition B.
Proposition B will be on the May 1 ballot as a result of Save Austin Now's petition drive. If voter approved, the resulting ordinance would ban: camping in a public areas, soliciting in designated areas and sitting or lying down on public sidewalks.
Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.