(Paul Sableman/CC)

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."

The challenge for all of us this Thanksgiving is letting go of what we've lost in this tough year and treasure what we still have.

We at Austonia are thankful for you. Since we launched our site in April, we've done our best to connect you to Austin, with stories ranging from the important to the delightfully superficial. Your response has been strong and we are grateful.

At this time of thanks, we have a variety of stories for you. Laura Figi writes about "a greener holiday," food trends, and Friday shopping. Emma Freer writes about a nearby annual Native American heritage celebration. And Roberto Ontiveros brings us a thoughtful piece that looks at the human toll of Austin's gentrification—the often painful flip side to having shiny new bars, restaurants, and apartments—in this case it's displacement of the Black community on East 11th Street. Finally, we ask you how you're celebrating the holiday this year.

Our best to you and your loved ones!

—The Austonia Team

You can now buy earrings designed by UT students at Kendra Scott

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