First international flights since March arrive at TPA

Starting Thursday, Tampa International Airport will welcome back non-stop international flights for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

The announcement comes as the airport prepares for one of its busiest weeks so far this year.

"This is a big milestone for us and really for this year. We're hoping to trend continues for us over the next year of people feeling safe enough to travel," Tampa International Airport spokesperson Emily Nipps said.

Starting Thursday, JetBlue will begin non-stop service to Cancun, which means the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility will finally be back up and running.

"International flights are really one of our lifelines at Tampa International Airport. We've worked very hard over the last several years to bring on new international service," Nipps said.

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Bringing in more business while keeping people safe is by far the airport's biggest challenge this year. Its total business is down 97% since last year.

Around Thanksgiving week 2019, the airport saw about 80,000 travelers pass through each day. This year, about 45,000 passengers are expected.

RELATED: Tampa International Airport adding 40 destinations in time for holiday travel

To try and avoid the spread of COVID-19, the airport offers self-service boarding pass scanners for outgoing passengers. There's also COVID-19 testing available in the terminal. The airport says 100-200 people get the tests per day.

If you have an international flight coming up, be sure to check with your airline about testing. Some countries may require proof of a negative test in order to enter the country.

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If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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